New Physician Assistant Rotations in Progress at UM Shore Regional Health

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UM Shore Regional Health has welcomed five physician assistant students for clinical rotations with UM SRH physician preceptors, William Huffner, MD, senior vice president, Medical Affairs and chief medical officer, has announced.

The students — Rhavi Dholokia, Emmy Estrada, Chidex Eugene-Francis, Kulvinder Singh and Emily Tull — began their first of eight, five-week rotations on May 22, 2017. The physician preceptors and their specialties are: Eric Anderson, MD, Psychiatry; Walter Atha, MD, Emergency Medicine; Kim Herman, MD, Family Medicine; Mark Langfitt, MD, Pediatrics; Andrew Pelczar, MD, Surgery; Aisha Siddiqui, MD, OB/GYN; Myron Szczukowski, Jr., MD, Orthopedics (offered as an elective); and Elena Tilly, MD, Internal Medicine.

UM SRH has welcomed five physician assistant students for nine-month clinical rotations. Shown are (back row, L-R): Emily Tull, Chidex Eugene-Francis, Ravi Dholokia, Kulvinder Singh and Emmy Estrada; and (front row, L-R) William Huffner, MD, UM SRH chief medical officer and senior vice president, Medical Affairs, Kim Billingslea, regional director, Medical Staff Services, and Jennifer Kaminskas, executive assistant, Medical Affairs.

“We are delighted to host this second group of students from the Physician Assistant program offered jointly by Anne Arundel Community College and University of Maryland at Baltimore,” says Huffner. “According to reports from our physician preceptors and from the seven PA students who were with us during the past year, the first round of rotations was highly successful. In fact, a few of those students, who graduated in May, have indicated that UM Shore Regional Health is their first choice for employment once they pass their PA licensing exams. We could not have asked for a better outcome and we are hoping this new group will have an equally good experience with our physicians and their practices, and in our hospitals and outpatient services.”

Mary Jo Bondy, administrative program director of the M.S. in Health Science/Physician Assistant Porgram, shares Dr. Huffner’s enthusiasm. “We are so very grateful to the physicians and hospital leaders at Shore who have welcomed our PA students,” Bondy says. “The first group of students, who are now graduates studying for state licensure, greatly appreciated the opportunity to become embedded in the local community and to work with one physician practice at a time, which enabled them to really focus on their learning. I also was very glad to hear from some of the physician preceptors how much growth they observed in the students over the course of the rotations.”

According to Bondy, most of the students accepted into the AACC/UMB PA program have some work experience, very often in the field of health care. “We find that candidates with a bit of work history and life experience are most likely to succeed in the program, which is very demanding,” she says.

The demand for certified physician assistants continues to grow, especially in rural communities. PAs work in virtually every area of medicine and surgery in the full array of health care settings — hospitals, private and employed physician practices, outpatient services, and long-term care and rehabilitation facilities. PA duties include taking histories and conducting physical examinations, ordering and interpreting tests, diagnosing illnesses, developing and implementing treatment plans, and assisting in or even performing surgery.

As part of the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), University of Maryland Shore Regional Health is the principal provider of comprehensive health care services for more than 170,000 residents of Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. UM Shore Regional Health’s team of more than 2,500 employees, medical staff, board members, and volunteers works with various community partners to fulfill the organization’s mission of Creating Healthier Communities Together.

Celebrating History in Chestertown

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Chestertown’s Civil War monument

Chestertown is known for its history, and at the June 19 meeting of the town council, residents outlined plans for three observances of that rich history.

Coming up this weekend is an observance of the 100th anniversary of the installation of the Civil War monument in the town’s Monument Park. Ceremonies featuring re-enactors and two bands will include a wreath-laying at the monument at 10:15 Saturday, Thomas Hayman told the council.

Monument Park — the Civil War monument is at the far end.

The Fort Delaware Cornet Band will play music of the Civil War era at around 2 p.m., and re-enactors will perform drills and show how Union and Confederate soldiers lived in camp and on campaign. Hayman said there will be no firing of weapons, and the demonstrations will be confined to the park area. Except for a brief period for the participants to march in, from lower on High Street, there will be no interruption of traffic, he said.

The monument itself bears the names of Kent County troops from the Union army on its north side and those of Confederate troops on its south side. It was donated in 1917 by Judge James Alfred Pearce, who both designed and paid for the granite monument.

Nearby is a more recent monument commemorating the more than 400 Kent County residents who served with the U.S. Colored Troops during the Civil War.

Airlee Johnson of the Historical Society

At the same meeting, Airlee Johnson of the Kent County Historical Society requested permits for street closures for Legacy Day, August 19. The event, which includes a parade, a concert in Fountain Park, and a genealogy workshop at Kent County Public Library, recognizes the history of the whole community, Johnson said. In its fourth year, the festival has drawn a large and diverse crowd to town.

This year’s festival honors the teachers in Kent County’s black schools during the segregation era. The teachers will be recognized at a reception at Sumner Hall Friday, August 18, and will ride in the parade. The Legacy Day has contacted as many teachers as its researchers could locate, and many of them will be returning from out of town to take part in the ceremonies.

The concert, Saturday night, featuring danceable music of the Motown era, is in cooperation with Chestertown’s Music in the Park program. For the concert, High Street between Cross and Spring streets will be closed off, and parking will be closed on all four sides of the park. There will be food vendors and several nonprofits will also have booths open to distribute information.

Tess Hogans shows photos from the Stories in Service program. Her daughter Marian watches

Also at the council meeting, Tess Hogans of the Garfield Center asked the council for a letter of support for an event at the theater Friday, Nov. 10, a continuation of the “Stories in Service” program the theater launched along with its production of “Mister Roberts.” The program consisted of interviews and photos of local service men and women displayed in the theater lobby and on the Chestertown Spy. The program got a much greater response than expected, Hogans said, so to accommodate those who couldn’t be included the first time, the theater will post all the pictures in the lobby in November in time for Veterans Day.

Hogans said she was working to get a Marine Corps color guard and a military band – possibly from the U.S. Navy to add to the recognition of the local veterans. She said one of the questions she needed to answer in the application for a military band was whether the program had the support of the local government. The council voted to send a letter of support.

Park to Be Dedicated to Louisa Carpenter

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The recreational area of Chestertown’s Washington Park is to be renamed to honor the late Louisa D’Andelot Carpenter in ceremonies Saturday, June 25.

The Chestertown Council approved the renaming at its meeting Monday, June 19, upon a request from members of the Washington Park Committee and Brant Troup, chairman of the Chestertown Recreation Commission.

Brandt Troup (L) , chairman of the Chestertown Recreation Commission, and representatives of the Washington Park Committee at the town council meeting Monday

Louisa Carpenter (1907-1976)

Carpenter, who died in a private plane crash in 1976, was a DuPont heiress and philanthropist whose projects included donating the land for Camp Fairlee, building the former bowling alley on Church Hill Road, and the creation of Washington Park, for which she donated the property and arranged funding for low-income families.

Councilman Sam Shoge, in whose ward Washington Park is located, put the request before the council, He said the dedication ceremony would be at 9 a.m. Saturday, and open to all. He said the community would install signage to recognize the new name at a future date. The park is at the intersection of Lincoln and Kennedy Drives, off Flatland Road.

Councilman Marty Stetson said he had known Carpenter, who he said “did a lot of good in the community.” He suggested that the committee see if there are any Carpenter relatives still living and extend an invitation to them. He said former mayor Elmer Horsey had worked for Carpenter and suggested contacting him to see if he knew of any relatives.

Shoge said the committee had gone through Horsey to contact the Carpenter estate about the use of her name, for which they received permission, He said they would follow up with him to see if there were any relatives who wished to attend the ceremony.

Troup also reported that the Recreation Commission and the Washington Park Committee are working with Zoning Administrator Kees de Mooy on an application for a Community Parks and Playgrounds grant from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. He said a similar application a few years ago was unsuccessful, but he hoped that the community’s involvement in working to upgrade the park facilities would work in favor of receiving the grant this time. Among the upgrades are the addition of benches, a swing set, and horseshoe pits. Future projects would include a walking trail, a pavilion and some landscaping, and renovation of the small basketball court, He said the application would go out in the early fall.

In the event the grant application is unsuccessful, Troup asked if the Recreation Commission budget would remain stable over the next  couple of years, so as to provide a contingency fund for more gradual upgrades on the park.

Mayor Chris Cerino said that in his experience the Community Parks and Playgrounds grants are very competitive. He said that if the application is turned down, the commission should plan on more gradual upgrades, as were done with the Ajax playground near the rail trail.

Troup also said that the Recreation Commission is planning to team with the Kent Athletic Center to sponsor a kickball league, which he said might draw as much interest as the very successful bocce league.

Finally, Troup said his term as chairman of the commission expires at the end of the month, and the bylaws prohibit his return in that capacity. He said he has a prospective candidate to replace him, and would give the name to the council to consider. He said he would be glad to continue on the commission as a regular member.

 

AAM and THS Sponsors Lecture on Maryland’s Black Soldiers During the Civil War

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On Tuesday June 27 at 6 p.m., the Academy Art Museum and the Talbot Historical Society will host a lecture, “Forgotten Warriors: Maryland’s Black Soldiers During the Civil War,” by noted Maryland historian Daniel Carroll Toomey.

During the Civil War 186,000 Black men served in the Union Army. The small state of Maryland, divided in its loyalties, contributed six regiments or about 9,000 men to the Union war effort. An additional regiment was organized in Norfolk, Virginia, but composed mostly of men from the lower Chesapeake Bay region and those who served in the United States Navy. Approximately half of these men were free when they entered the service, the other half slaves who gained their freedom as a condition of enlistment.

Segregated into regiments known as United States Colored Troops and commanded by White officers, these Marylanders of Color forged combat records equal to any units formed after the Emaciation Proclamations took effect. Of the 16 Black soldiers who were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Civil War, seven were Marylanders. Toomey will explain the evolution of these men from slave to soldier and recount their many accomplishments both as soldiers on the battlefield and veterans after the war.

Daniel Carroll Toomey is a graduate of the University of Maryland and the author or co-author of over a dozen books including “The Civil War in Maryland” and “Baltimore During the Civil War.” He has lectured for a number of historical organizations and colleges including the Smithsonian Institution and Johns Hopkins University.

The lecture is free and open to the public. For additional information and to register, visit academyartmuseum.org.

Indivisible to Host a Protest Artwork Event in Chestertown

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 “A Mile In Our Shoes” installation artwork responds to the American Healthcare Act.  The event will be held Thursday, July 6, at 7:00 PM in Fountain Park in Chestertown.

KQA Indivisible is partnering with other groups in the region to have a public installation artwork highlighting the human cost of the AHCA.

The organization has a goal to collect 900 pairs of shoes for this installation, representing the roughly 900 individuals projected to lose health care coverage in Kent County alone under the American Health Care Act. Nationally, around 24 million people are estimated to lose health care coverage. After the event, the collection of shoes will be donated to charity organizations.

The event will begin with opening remarks from KQA Indivisible and testimonials regarding health care from community members followed by a candlelight vigil.

The event is open to the public.

Shoes can be donated at drop-off boxes located at the Democratic Club table at the Chestertown Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings or by mailing via the US Postal Service to 104 Spring Ave. PO Box # 781, Chestertown, MD, 21620

About KQA Indivisible – The Indivisible Movement is a national movement organizing to demand accountability from congressional representatives and prevent the Trump administration from dismantling American democracy.

Indivisible of Kent and Queen Anne’s Counties strives to build a movement of inclusion, equity and justice, and will further this mission with four goals in mind:

  • Maintain elected Representative vigilance. We demand that the actions of our local and state Representatives are fact-based, science-based and data-driven. We demand that our Representatives vote in the people’s best interests, not for special interests.
  • To be a resource in our community to inform, organize and support the people of Kent and Queen Anne’s Counties. We seek to do this by providing fact checked information and legislative developments, coordinating acts of resistance, and increasing voter participation.
  • To build relationships and alliances in our community across lines of race, class, gender identity, generation, faith, citizenship status or political party, utilizing our collective power to work for liberty and justice for all.
  • Work to seat progressive candidates in the Maryland 1st congressional district and in other local and regional elections.A Mile In Our Shoes” installation artwork in protest of the Republican “American Healthcare Act”Thursday, July 6, at 7:00 PM in Fountain Park in Chestertown.  All are welcome.  For more information see Kent & Queen Anne Indivisible website or Indivisible’s FaceBook page.  Email to KQAIndivisible@gmail.com.  

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Mid-Shore Pro Bono Celebrates New Maryland Bar Foundation Fellows

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Mid-Shore Pro Bono and other Mid-Shore legal professionals were proud to celebrate with Andie Ross and Maureen Keough as they became Fellows of the Maryland Bar Foundation at the organization’s annual meeting in Ocean City. This honor recognizes legal professionals for their outstanding dedication and contribution to maintaining the honor and integrity of the legal profession, the improvement and facilitation of the administration of justice, and the work of the organized Bar of Maryland and civic leadership. Just 2.5 percent of the membership of the Maryland Bar Foundation are welcomed as fellows. Pictured are Cappy Callahan, Christine duFour Esq., Sandy Brown, Maureen Keogh Esq., Andie Ross Esq., Judge Karen Murphy Jensen, Connie Kratovil Lavelle Esq., Robin Henley Esq. and Tom Yeager Esq..

The YMCA of the Chesapeake “The Best Summer Ever”

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Over 200 counselors from across the Shore, some returning and some new, gathered at the Richard A. Henson Family YMCA for extensive training to skillfully serve 1,000 kids a day this summer at YMCA of the Chesapeake locations. Robbie Gill, CEO of the YMCA of the Chesapeake, opened camp training and welcomed staff to the #bestsummerever. As CEO, a parent and a former camp counselor he understands the experience everyone is looking for with camp whether you are a camper, parent or staff. He addressed the assembled group.

“We get moments in our lives where the opportunity to give back and make a difference appear before us. This is one of those moments. As much as we all would love to be a camp counselor for the next 20 years, that’s just not how life works out. But, here you are, a camp counselor, this summer, with an opportunity to make a lasting positive impact in the lives of children every day. Make the most of this opportunity. There will be kids who are so excited to meet you; they can’t sleep the night before camp starts. Let’s be ready every day, to make this the best summer ever. Your best summer ever, the Y’s best summer ever and the kids we’re blessed enough to serve, let’s make it their best summer ever.”

We are ready and waiting for your children to come to camp. Every child deserves to just be a kid during the summer. Here are five reasons why children and teens should attend summer camp:   

1.    ADVENTURE: Summer camp is all about a wide variety of new experiences and exploring the outdoors. YMCA camps have a new adventure for every child and teen. Visit www.ymcachesapeake.org for details.

2.    HEALTHY FUN: Day and resident camps offer fun, stimulating activities that engage the body and mind, and also help children and teens learn the importance of nutrition to help improve their healthy eating habits. 

3.    PERSONAL GROWTH: While in the welcoming environment of camp, youth have a chance to learn new skills, and develop confidence and independence by taking on new responsibilities and challenges. Camps offer cognitive learning and social-emotional development opportunities for achievement.

4.    FRIENDSHIPS: Amidst the fun of camp games, songs, swimming, canoeing and talent shows, campers meet new friends and strengthen existing friendships. The bonds formed at camp are important and lasting for many youth.

5.    MEMORIES: Summer camp is an unforgettable experience that will give each camper memories (and camp traditions) that will last a lifetime. Youth return to school with plenty of camp stories to share!

And, to ensure that all youth have the chance to experience camp, the YMCA of the Chesapeake offers financial assistance to those in need. If you’re interested in helping send kids to camp this summer, you can donate to the Y at ymcachesapeake.org or contact your local branch of the YMCA of the Chesapeake.

The “best summer ever” is right around the corner and the YMCA of the Chesapeake is offering a variety of camp to make sure kids and teens on the Eastern Shore are adventurous, active and healthy this summer. YMCA camp programs offer youth fun and unique experiences with an opportunity to explore the outdoors, meet new friends, discover new interests and create memories that last a lifetime. The Y has Traditional, Specialty, Sports and Outdoor camps. There truly is something for everyone. We have ten different locations that, when combined, offer over 400 different camps. Come and register for camp at your local YMCA of the Chesapeake branch. Make this the best summer ever!

About the Y

The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits and the largest Human Service organization on the Eastern Shore of Maryland; strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the Shore Ys engage over 27,000 members; men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the shore’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors.  In 2016, the YMCA of the Chesapeake provided over $1,226,000 in assistance to over 12,422 community members, turning no one away due to inability to pay. www.ymcachesapeake.org

Pennsylvania Starts to Draft Plan to Address Bay Shortfall

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Pennsylvania’s effort to write a more robust Bay cleanup strategy was launched last week in a packed hotel auditorium where more than 200 people gathered to offer their initial thoughts about what a new — and more implementable — plan would look like.

The state is so far behind its Bay cleanup obligations that it is jeopardizing Chesapeake restoration efforts as a whole. All states in the Bay drainage have to write new Watershed Implementation Plans in the next year and a half to guide cleanup their efforts through the 2025 cleanup deadline, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has singled out Pennsylvania’s plan-writing process for increased scrutiny because of its shortfall.

“The challenge is great, but we can do it together,” Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell told the gathering, noting that efforts to clean the Bay will also benefit state waterways.

It will indeed be a challenge. According to the EPA’s most recent review, Pennsylvania needs to control 34 million pounds of nitrogen runoff from 2016 through 2025 — about 70 percent of the total remaining nitrogen reduction for the entire Bay watershed.

Nutrient pollution spurs algae blooms in the Bay that clouds the water, blocking sunlight from critical underwater grass beds. When the algae die, they deplete water of the oxygen needed by fish, crabs and other species.

Because of its gaping shortfall, the EPA recently warned state officials in a letter that the agency was ramping up oversight of Pennsylvania’s cleanup efforts and could take further actions if the state doesn’t come up with a viable cleanup plan —one that specifies beefed-up regulations and new funding — in the next 18 months.

“I think everyone in the room is aware of the consequences of us not meeting our obligations,” McDonnell said. Those consequences could include more EPA inspections of farms and municipal stormwater systems, specific nutrient-reduction goals for large-scale animal feeding operations and stormwater dischargers, and mandatory upgrades of wastewater treatment plants, among other actions.

State officials anticipate — at least for now — that 80 percent of the needed nitrogen reduction will come from the more than 33,000 farms in Pennsylvania’s portion of the Chesapeake basin, which they acknowledge will be a challenge.

“I worry every day about the 80 percent and the pressure on agriculture to get this done,” Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said in an interview.

He said more of the nutrient reduction responsibility may ultimately have to be shifted to other sources. But that won’t happen unless the agricultural sector can show that farmers are stepping up.

As part of that, many county conservation districts, along with state agencies, have ramped up farm inspections since last fall to check that farmers have required conservation plans — and, ultimately, are implementing them. That effort is critical, Redding said, to showing others that the agricultural sector is addressing its challenge.

“You can’t have an intelligent conversation about changing [the 80 percent number] until you really get folks who have a current obligation to do the plan,” Redding said. But it’s a massive job, he said, noting that Lancaster County alone has 5,500 farms. Still, he added, farmers are beginning to accept the oversight, noting that complaints about the increased farm inspections have been fewer than expected.

“There hasn’t been hostility to that,” Redding said. “I’ve had one phone call out of the 1,194 visits that the farmer was really pushing back on why this is happening.”

For any program or new initiative, the key issue will be funding. The EPA, in its letter, said the state needs to show how it will come up with the funds needed to implement the updated Bay cleanup plan. Gov. Tom Wolf has called for $45 million in increased funding over the next three years to help support Bay efforts, but that’s well short of what is needed. EPA officials have estimated the state needs a $50 million to $80 million increase just its agricultural cost-share program.

McDonnell said the governor’s proposal was only a “down payment.” The legislature is considering several proposals that could generate more money for clean water projects, but the viability of those efforts is uncertain, and they are unlikely to be part of the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Funding for state environmental programs has declined over the last decade, and budget deadlocks between the legislature and the governor in recent years have made the situation even worse.

Ensuring that the General Assembly comes up with additional funding, said Cindy Dunn, secretary of the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, will be a critical to making any new plan a reality. “Even as we sit here, across the river important decisions are going to be made that will affect our ability to carry out the aspirations of today,” Dunn said, referring to the ongoing General Assembly session in Harrisburg.

Leaders emphasized that while the need to meet Bay cleanup goals is driving action, state water quality will benefit from the work. “This is a clean local water plan for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” McDonnell said.

Indeed, Dunn said the state has enough woes of its own so that water quality conversations “don’t have to include the words Chesapeake Bay to be effective.”

Pennsylvania doesn’t touch the Bay itself, but half of the state, including all or parts of 43 of the state’s 67 counties, drains into the Chesapeake, primarily down the Susquehanna River.

“Tragically, on some of the hottest days of the summer, after a rainstorm, we have to close beaches at parks because the E. coli levels are too high,” Dunn said.

At the June 5 event, about 240 people gathered to share ideas, more than had attended any meetings during the development of earlier Bay cleanup plans developed in 2010 and 2011 — which many considered a top-down exercise that resulted in unrealistic plans.

Repeatedly, officials emphasized that the new plans had to be, in McDonnell’s words, “realistic and achievable and gets us where we ultimately need to go, which is cleaning up local water quality.”

The meeting drew representatives for agriculture, local government officials, conservation districts, watershed groups and others to present ideas — the type of inclusion state officials had hoped to see. So many people wanted to be part of the process that organizers had to turn away several requests to register, said Veronica Kasi, coordinator of the DEP’s Chesapeake Bay Office.

They met in small groups to discuss topics as varied as funding, roadside drainage management, local goal-setting, citizen science, messaging and new approaches to riparian forest buffers.

McDonnell said that participation by “everyone who’s partnered with us” on the plan will been necessary to make it a reality.

“Sometimes I walk into a room and conversation shuts down,” he said. “So engaging with conservation districts and engaging with some of the ag associations is essential in getting this done. The encouraging thing to me is that they’ve wanted to be actively engaged as a partner.”

By Karl Blankenship

Karl Blankenship is editor of the Bay Journal and executive director of Chesapeake Media Service. He has served as editor of the Bay Journal since its inception in 1991.

Chesapeake Bay’s ‘Dead Zone’ Expected to be Larger than Average this Summer

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A year after experiencing its best water quality in decades, the Chesapeake Bay is expected to have a larger than average “dead zone” this summer, where fish, crabs and shellfish will struggle to breathe.

Researchers with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) and the University of Michigan are forecasting that the volume of oxygen-starved water in the Bay will grow to 1.9 cubic miles, enough to fill nearly 3.2 million Olympic-sized swimming pools.

“Dead zone” is the popular term for water that’s low in oxygen, or “hypoxic.” Fish often avoid or leave such areas, but if they’re trapped — or are immobile, like shellfish — they can suffocate.

“The forecast is a reminder that the improvements such as we saw last year are subject to reversal depending on weather conditions—two steps forward, one step back,” said UMCES President Donald F. Boesch.

Last year, dissolved oxygen concentrations in the Bay mainstem and the tidal portions of its rivers were the best they’ve been in three decades. Many areas maintained levels high enough to sustain fish and other aquatic life, and no place experienced “anoxic” conditions, in which there is virtually no oxygen in the water. The diminished dead zone came on the heels of a robust rebound of Bay grasses and improved water clarity in much of the Chesapeake.

But last year’s good conditions stemmed in part from below-average rainfall. This spring, scientists say, heavy rains fell in Pennsylvania and New York, flushing an above-average amount of nitrogen down the Susquehanna River.

Scientists expect an above-average volume of hypoxic water, while the smaller anoxic zone is expected to be average in size early in summer – 0.35 cubic miles — before it grows to slightly larger than average by late summer, at 0.49 cubic miles.

“Although the higher forecasts for this summer seem to buck a recent trend toward lower anoxic volumes in Chesapeake Bay, they are consistent with known links between high river flows and oxygen depletion,” said Jeremy Testa, assistant professor at the UMCES Chesapeake Biological Laboratory.

The Bay’s chief water-quality problem stems from nutrient pollution. Excessive amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus from farm, urban and suburban runoff, and from sewage treatment plants, among other sources, feed massive algae blooms in the Bay and its tributaries. The algae then die and sink to the bottom, where their decomposition consumes oxygen in the water. Typically, a large area of hypoxic water forms each summer, stressing fish and shellfish, while a smaller area experiences anoxic conditions.

This spring’s heavy rains in Pennsylvania and New York delivered 81.4 million pounds of nitrogen to the Bay via the Susquehanna, a little more than the long-term average. The dead zone forecast is based on mathematical models developed with funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and it relies on nutrient estimates provided by the U.S. Geological Survey. Scientists say that notwithstanding the return this summer of a worse-than-average dead zone, the Bay’s water quality does appear to be trending better overall.

“Despite this year’s forecast, we’ve made great strides in reducing nutrient pollution from various sources entering the Chesapeake Bay, and we are starting to see positive long-term signs,” said Rob Magnien, director of NOAA’s Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research. “However, more work needs to be done to address non-point nutrient pollution, from farms and other developed lands, to make the Bay cleaner for its communities and economic interests.”

The Trump administration has proposed eliminating federal funding next year for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program, in addition to deep cuts in other federal programs that contribute to the restoration effort.

Boesch said the forecast shows why the federal government can’t let up on the Bay restoration effort, which began in the early 1980s. After slow progress and repeatedly missed cleanup deadlines, the EPA imposed a “pollution diet” in 2010. The six states in the Chesapeake watershed and the District of Columbia have until 2025 to take all the steps needed to reduce nutrients and maintain good oxygen levels year-round — which in turn benefits the plants and animals that depend on that oxygen.

“This underscores the critical importance,” Boesch said, “of continued investments by federal agencies in science and monitoring as the states continue to implement the Bay’s pollution diet.”

by Tim Wheeler

Timothy B. Wheeler is managing editor and project writer for the Bay Journal. He has more than two decades of experience covering the environment for the Baltimore Sun and other media outlets.