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Maryland scientists have been warning of a growing 'dead zone' in the Chesapeake Bay. Now the numbers are in, confirming their dire warnings were correct.
Natural Resources Department data shows an area with little to no oxygen spread to 2 cubic miles (8 cubic kilometers) by late July, making it one of the worst in decades.
Comparison - July - Zones - Miles - Kilometers
By comparison, July dead zones averaged about 1.35 cubic miles (6 cubic kilometers) for the past 35 years.
The worst section includes the lower Potomac and Patuxent rivers and much of the Bay, from Baltimore to the mouth of the York River.
University - Maryland - Scientists - Rains - Wastewater
University of Maryland environmental scientists say heavy rains washed wastewater and agricultural runoff into the bay and produced oxygen-stealing algae. Scientists fear it could harm crabs, oysters and the state's seafood industry.
As negotiations drag on, the lack of agreement about curbing runoff pollutants following the wettest year on record imperils hard-won gains in restoring the Chesapeake Bay.
Barrier - Conowingo - Dam - Inventory - Muck
Behind the 94-foot (29-meter) high barrier of the Conowingo Dam lies a massive inventory of coal-black muck - some 200 million tons (181 million metric tons) of pollutants picked up over decades from farmlands, industrial zones and towns.
How big a threat this sediment stockpile poses to the Chesapeake Bay or whether anything can even be done about it depends on who one talks to.
Estuary - Crabs - Oysters - Cleanup - Program
The iconic estuary famed for its blue crabs and oysters has been gradually rebounding under a federal cleanup program launched in 1983 that put an end to unbridled pollution.
But the 200-mile (325-kilometer) long bay is increasingly being ravaged by runoff-triggering downpours, including record-setting rainfall in 2018 and this year's soggy spring.
Cycles - Downpours - Pollutants - Chesapeake - Sewer
Intense cycles of downpours are washing pollutants into the Chesapeake from municipal sewer overflows, subdivisions and farms where manure often isn't effectively handled and nitrogen and phosphorous-rich fertilizers are used.
Experts say climate change is accelerating the...
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