Proposal to Aerate Bay: Breath of Fresh Air or Pipe Dream?

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Dan Sheer, founder and president emeritus of a Maryland water resources consulting firm, guides his sailboat up Rock Creek, where aerators have been used since 1988. They successfully dealt with low-oxygen conditions there that generated a rotten egg odor. Bay Journal photo by Timothy Wheeler

What if the dead zone that plagues the Chesapeake Bay could be eliminated now, not years down the road — and at a fraction of the billions being spent annually on restoring the troubled estuary?

Fanciful as it sounds, Dan Sheer figures it’s technically doable. Whether it’s the right thing to do is another question. Bay scientists are wary of potential pitfalls, but some still think it’s worth taking a closer look.

Sheer, founder and president emeritus of HydroLogics, a Maryland-based water resource consulting firm, has suggested that the oxygen-starved area down the center of the Bay could become a thing of the past if enough air could be pumped into the depths and be allowed to bubble up through the water.

“It pretty much gets rid of the problem,” he said during a recent presentation to scientists at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. And it’s not just him saying that. The federal-state Chesapeake Bay Program ran his oxygen-bubbling calculations through the computer model it uses to simulate water quality in the Bay, and the preliminary results appear to back him up.

Algae blooms produce dead zone

The dead zone, as it’s called, is produced when algae blooms fed by excessive nutrients in the water die and decay, consuming the dissolved oxygen that fish, crabs and shellfish need to live. This zone of low to no oxygen forms near the bottom in the deep trough down the center of the Bay every spring and grows through summer, until finally receding in fall when algae growth ends.

The Bay Program has been laboring since the 1980s to reduce nutrient pollution and raise dissolved oxygen levels enough to eliminate the dead zone, but the effort has been costly and challenging.

The region missed two earlier cleanup deadlines and is now working toward another target date of 2025, when all projects and programs needed to meet nutrient reduction goals should be in place. That’s looking increasingly unrealistic as well.

Aerating the Bay would be quicker, Sheer contends, and potentially less expensive. His idea: Lay 16 pipes across the deepest part of the Chesapeake at 5-mile intervals from Maryland’s Bay Bridge to the Potomac River, with a series of openings in them to release streams of tiny air bubbles. The oxygen in the bubbles would dissolve into the water and help sustain aquatic life.

Not a new proposal

Sheer isn’t the first to suggest bubbling the Bay like an aquarium. It’s been brought up repeatedly over the last 30 years, only to be dismissed as unworkable and inordinately expensive — harebrained, even.

In the late 1980s, Maryland tested floating aerators in a cove off the Patuxent River, but gave up after they produced a barely detectable change in oxygen near the bottom.

In 2011, the nonprofit Blue Water Baltimore, in partnership with a consulting firm, placed a small aerator in Baltimore’s harbor, with similar results.

Aeration has been used with some success elsewhere in freshwater lakes and reservoirs that suffer from nutrient pollution. And, it has helped water quality in some rivers, such as the Thames in the United Kingdom.

Pumping air into big open bodies of tidal water is more problematic. Scientists in Sweden and Finland have looked at and tested aeration as a possible remedy for severe algae blooms in the Baltic Sea. But they’ve held back from trying it on a large scale, in part because of uncertainty about its costs and effectiveness.

Given that history, reaction to Sheer’s proposal has been mixed.

Lot of questions

“I’m enthusiastic about the idea in a lot of ways, but there are a lot of questions,” said Bill Ball, director of the Chesapeake Research Consortium, a nonprofit that coordinates Bay studies among seven universities and labs in the region.

Sheer, who holds a doctorate in environmental engineering from Johns Hopkins University, said the idea of aerating the Bay mainstem came to him about 18 months ago while listening to a presentation at UMBC about the costs and complications of the federal-state restoration effort. When he stood up and asked why not try bubbling the dead zone away, he said others in attendance ticked off a litany of flaws they saw in his proposal.

“The room sort of turned into a shooting gallery,” he recalled, “and I was the target. I had lots of objections … ‘you’re fixing the symptoms and not the problem,’ ‘you can’t possibly pump enough air,’ ‘it’s way too expensive, takes too much energy’” and more.

After that, Sheer set out to see if his critics were right.

“It looks like it really will work,” he said.

Working at Rock Creek

 

Sheer pointed out that aeration has long been in use in one small corner of the Bay watershed, where he happens to keep his sailboat.

Rock Creek, a tributary of the Patapsco River near Baltimore, has had aerators since 1988. They were put there in response to complaints about the rotten-egg odor given off by the creek in summer.

A 2014 study by researchers with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science rated the Rock Creek aerators a success. They raised oxygen levels near the bottom enough to stop hydrogen sulfide from bubbling out of the sediments — another byproduct of low-oxygen conditions.

“The aerators were incredibly effective at restoring dissolved oxygen to the creek,” said Lora Harris, an associate professor at the UMCES Chesapeake Biological Laboratory and lead author of the study. Water quality improved even downstream, she said, nearly to the mouth of the tidally influenced creek.

Rock Creek is relatively shallow and small, compared to the water bodies where aeration has been tested before. The aerators there also were placed on the bottom, rather than floating on the surface.

Aeration has successfully treated low-oxygen conditions in Maryland’s Rock Creek, where they caused a rotten egg odor and prompted complaints from local residents. Anne Arundel County is currently replacing the original aerators at a cost of approximately $1 million. Bay Journal photo by Timothy Wheeler

The Rock Creek aerators cost $285,000 to install and about $7,000 a year to run, according to Janis Markusic, a planner with Anne Arundel County’s watershed restoration office. The county is now replacing the original aerators, she said, to the tune of $1 million.

Might cost $10-20 million

Doing it in the Bay mainstem would likely cost much more. Working with scientific colleagues, Sheer has estimated that it would cost $10 million–$20 million to install the piping network, bubble diffusers, air compressors, oxygen generators and other equipment. To run it would take another $11 million a year, by their estimates, with much of that spent on electricity to power the air compressors, pumps and other equipment.

While not cheap, that’s far less expensive than the current Bay cleanup tab, Sheer pointed out. In fiscal year 2017 alone, the six Bay watershed states and federal government spent nearly $2 billion on the restoration effort, according to Bay Program figures.

Sheer said the Bay Program model runs showed his aeration proposal would do just as much to raise oxygen levels in the Bay’s depths as the last round of nutrient-reducing cleanup plans drawn up by the watershed states and the District of Columbia.

The model also indicated aeration would actually outperform the Bay pollution diet in another, important way. Artificially increasing oxygen levels would reduce the release of algae-fueling phosphorus and nitrogen back into the water from bottom sediments where they had built up over time. That recycling of nutrients from the sediments has long been viewed by scientists as a potential hindrance to the Bay restoration.

A lot we don’t know

Scientists with whom Sheer has consulted — and Sheer himself — are quick to point out that his proposal relies on some unproven assumptions and could have unintended negative consequences, what engineers and scientists call “revenge effects.”

“There’s a lot we don’t know,” Sheer said. “There’s a lot we think we know that might be wrong.”

Ball, an environmental engineering professor at Johns Hopkins, said that from his experience with aeration in wastewater treatment plants, he’s not sure how well bubblers will work at raising oxygen levels in the Bay’s depths.

“He’s relying a lot on the sloshing of the tides,” Ball said, adding that “there’s a lot more work to do to figure this out.”

Jeremy Testa, an assistant professor at the UMCES lab, called the Bay Program model results “intriguing,” particularly in regard to limiting the flux of nutrients back into the water from sediments. But there are potentially significant downsides, he said.

One is that if the current rate of nutrient pollution isn’t reduced, he said, the phosphorus and nitrogen may simply continue to build up in the sediments, and then pour out into the water in one huge algae-blooming pulse if the bubblers ever shut down, even for a short spell.

That’s what Lora Harris said that she, Testa and other colleagues found at Rock Creek. They also found that the creek was emitting significantly more nitrous oxide — a climate-warming greenhouse gas — than other comparable water bodies.

There’s even a possibility, Harris noted, that pumping oxygen into nutrient-enriched waters could increase the formation of toxic methylmercury, which can build up in fish and is already one of the top two causes for fish consumption advisories in the Bay.

There’s also some concern that a series of aerators would create “bubble curtains” in the water that would impede fish movement.

“You never know what’s going to happen when you start manipulating the environment,” Testa said.

Treating the symptoms

Others say that even if technically feasible, aeration is just treating one of the symptoms of a distressed Chesapeake without fixing the causes of its woes.

While aeration could engineer a remedy for low dissolved oxygen, Testa warned that if nutrient pollution isn’t reduced, “we’re still going to have problems” with algae blooms, sediment-clouded water and important habitat like sea grasses not getting enough light to grow.

“Frankly, from a policy perspective, I think it’s a horrible idea,’’ said Beth McGee, director of science and agriculture policy with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. It would “let people off the hook,” she contended, weakening public and political pressure to make pollution reductions that would benefit the whole Bay watershed, including its rivers and streams — not just the dead zone.

Indeed, the 2014 Bay Watershed Agreement lays out 10 different goals that go beyond improving water quality to seeking such things as sustainable populations of fish, shellfish and black ducks, increased conservation of land and enhanced public access to the Bay and its tributaries.

‘Horrible idea’ or worth a try?

Sheer acknowledges that aeration is not a substitute for the nutrient and sediment reductions states are having to make under the Baywide Total Maximum Daily Load set in 2010 by the EPA. But rather than sap public interest in saving the Bay, he suggested that it could actually boost it. “If you have a big success,” he said, “maybe you’ll increase momentum to finish the job.”

Lewis Linker, acting associate director of the EPA’s Bay Program office, said that model runs testing Sheer’s proposal are very preliminary and need much more study. But he said “no way, no how” would he see aeration replacing the restoration effort’s current multi-goal approach.

At best, Linker suggested, aeriation might serve as an “add-on,” after all needed pollution reductions have been made, to help maintain healthy oxygen levels in the Bay’s mainstem even under extreme weather conditions.

The only way to find out if aeration can help, Sheer said, is to test the idea someplace in the Bay, with a pilot project costing around $2 million.

“This is not ripe to go out and do,” Sheer said, “but it is ripe, really ripe to go out and do a pilot. … I really think what we need to do next is put a station out there and see what the hell happens.”

Some of the scientists with whom Sheer has consulted agree that for all its potential pitfalls, it’s still worth further study.

“It’s not necessarily the complete solution,” Harris said, to the Bay’s nutrient overenrichment. But, she said, “It’s potentially nudging one of the symptoms that we do care about. …We have an obligation to think about all sides.”

By Tim Wheeler

Tim Wheeler (twheeler@bayjournal.com)is associate editor of  Bay Journal, published by Bay Journal Media, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, to inform the public about issues that affect the Chesapeake Bay. 

ShoreRivers Seeks Development & Events Coordinator

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ShoreRivers seeks a Development & Events Coordinator to join our team and help fulfill our mission to protect and restore Maryland’s Eastern Shore waterways. The position manages all ShoreRivers events and assists with development and communications activities. The ideal candidate will be an energetic, outwardly social self-starter who is organized, detail-oriented, and enthusiastic about the environment and the communities we serve.

The position reports to the Director of Development and works primarily out of Easton, MDat the Eastern Shore Conservation Center, with frequent work out of our Chestertown and Galena offices. This is a full-time position; the employee must be flexible to work weekends, evenings, and longer hours, and to travel when necessary. The employee must be willing to live in the communities we serve. Salary is commensurate with experience; competitive benefits package included.

To apply, send cover letter and resume to Rebekah Hock, Director of Development, at rhock@shorerivers.org

RESPONSIBILITIES

Events (50%) – manage ShoreRivers’ more than 15 annual fundraising and outreach events, including staff and board coordination, event logistics and budget, volunteer coordination, partner liaison, vendor coordination, and event promotion.

Development (25%) – assist the Director of Development in implementing ShoreRivers’ annual fundraising strategy, including coordinating with the Governing Board, Advisory Boards, and Development Committee, working with our membership database, conducting grant research, and coordinating events and stewardship activities.

Communications (25%) – assist with planning and logistics for our suite of communications, including print, web, social media, press, annual appeal, and branded merchandise.

POSITION REQUIREMENTS AND QUALIFICATIONS

• A minimum of a Bachelor’s degree and 2+ years’ work experience in a relevant field of event coordination and/or development.
• Belief in our mission to achieve clean local waters.
• Excellent written and oral communication skills.
• Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite.
• Experience with donor database; Blackbaud’s Raiser’s Edge preferred.
• Experience with managing budgets preferred.
• Experience with managing volunteers preferred.

SHORERIVERS

ShoreRivers seeks to protect and restore Eastern Shore waterways through science-based advocacy, restoration, and education. We work collaboratively with our community yet maintain an uncompromising voice for clean rivers and the living resources they support.

We have a dedicated staff of educators, scientists, restoration specialists, and advocates focused on policies and projects that will improve the health of our rivers. Our staff includes four Waterkeepers who regularly patrol and monitor our waters and serve as key spokespersons. Our staff also includes a team of environmental educators and a team of agricultural restoration specialists.

Read more about ShoreRivers at shorerivers.org.

Phillips Wharf Celebrates 9th Oyster Planting Day

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On Saturday, June 1st Phillips Wharf Environmental Center celebrated its 9th Oyster Planting Day.  Staff and volunteers collected oyster growing cages from participating residents in the Bay Hundred area and planted the oysters in the Harris Creek Oyster Sanctuary to aid in oyster restoration efforts. Phillips Wharf, located in Tilghman, Maryland hosts the Tilghman Islanders Grow Oysters Program or TIGO for short, which is a part of the Marylanders Grow Oysters Program (MGO).

Oyster Planting Day was well attended with 57 volunteers consisting of youth programs from The National Aquarium and Digital Harbor High School as well as staff and members of Phillips Wharf.  Together they collected, organized and prepared the oysters for their final destination in Harris Creek. This year an estimated 478 cages were collected allowing 73 bushels of oysters to be planted.

As part of the TIGO program, Phillips Wharf Environmental Center is actively looking for residents with waterfront properties to host oyster growing cages for an 8-month period. This allows the spat to grow in a protected environment before they are released on Rabbit Point in early June. The oysters require minimal care for participants as they are suspended below docks in small cages. Anyone interested in hosting cages or participating in the Tilghman Islanders Grow Oysters program is encouraged to call Phillips Wharf at (410) 886-9200 or email oysters@phillipswharf.org.

Phillips Wharf Environmental Center is located in Tilghman Island, Maryland and looks to provide education and aquaculture training programs to excite, educate and engage generations of stewards through interactive experiences showcasing the Chesapeake Bay and its inhabitants. Phillips Wharf is funded through public support, education programs and sales from its aquaculture business Fisherman’s Daughter Oysters. Guests are encouraged to visit the campus located just over the Knapps Narrows Bridge in beautiful Tilghman Island or visit www.phillipswharf.org.

ShoreRivers Announces Tour the Shore Public Paddle Series

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Tour the Shore paddlers explore Cambridge Creek. Photo credit: George Norberg

ShoreRivers’ Tour the Shore summer kayak series begins this month, with a monthly paddle on one of four rivers through September. Tour the Shore gives novice and experienced paddlers alike an opportunity to explore creeks and rivers with small groups led by ShoreRivers’ experienced, certified staff. Paddle routes are chosen to highlight the Eastern Shore’s most scenic riverscapes and natural features, including great blue heron roosts, underwater grasses, and flooded forests.

Director of Education and Outreach Suzanne Sullivan, describes how the paddles serve ShoreRivers’ vision of health waterways across the Eastern Shore.“The Tour the Shore paddle series provides an opportunity for residents and visitors alike to get to know our rivers intimately. The more that individuals connect with a waterway and experience its value firsthand, the more they are going to want to protect that natural resource.”

Paddlers may bring their own kayaks or rent ShoreRivers’ kayaks. Space is limited. Contact Suzanne at 443-385-0511 or ssullivan@shorerivers.org to reserve seats. Tours are $20 for ShoreRivers members, $30 for non-members; kayak rentals are an additional $30. Bring your lunch!

2019 Tour the Shore Dates and Locations

Friday, July 12, 10am to 1pm– Robbins Creek (Choptank River)
Departs from Two Johns Landing in Preston. This paddle helps beat the heat as it meanders alongside the forested Lynch Preserve, property that was donated to Eastern Shore Land Conservancy.  Paddlers might just flush some wood ducks!

Friday, August 23, 10am to 2pm – Wye Island (Wye River)
Join the Miles-Wye Riverkeeper for a paddle that explores the peaceful coves around Wye Island Natural Resource Management Area. With over 85% of the island managed by Maryland State Park Service, this paddle-plus-hike showcases old growth trees and brightly colored song bird species.

Thursday, September 13, 10am to 1pm – Turner’s Creek (Sassafras River)
Join the Sassafras Riverkeeper for a paddle on Turner’s Creek in Kennedyville. Explore the famous tidal pond, see the magnificent lotus blooms, and witness one of the last working waterfronts on the river; a quintessential day on the Sassafras!

Friday, September 27, 10am to 1pm – Chester River
Late September is prime paddle time as the air cools and marshes and forest edges change colors on the upper Chester. For the final paddle of the season, kayakers will be joined by the Chester Riverkeeper, launching from Shadding Reach Landing in Crumpton, and exploring the narrow upper reaches of the Chester.

ShoreRivers protects and restores Eastern Shore waterways through science-based advocacy, restoration, and education.

shorerivers.org

ShoreRivers Announces “Tour the Shore” Public Paddle Series

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Press Release–ShoreRivers’ Tour the Shore summer kayak series begins this month, with a monthly paddle on one of four rivers through September. Tour the Shore gives novice and experienced paddlers alike an opportunity to explore creeks and rivers with small groups led by ShoreRivers’ experienced, certified staff.  Paddle routes are chosen to highlight the Eastern Shore’s most scenic riverscapes and natural features, including great blue heron roosts, underwater grasses, and flooded forests.

Director of Education and Outreach Suzanne Sullivan, describes how the paddles serve ShoreRivers’ vision of health waterways across the Eastern Shore. “The Tour the Shore paddle series provides an opportunity for residents and visitors alike to get to know our rivers intimately. The more that individuals connect with a waterway and experience its value firsthand, the more they are going to want to protect that natural resource.”

Paddlers may bring their own kayaks or rent one from ShoreRivers’. Space is limited. Contact Suzanne at 443-385-0511 or ssullivan@shorerivers.org to reserve seats. Tours are $20 for ShoreRivers members, $30 for non-members; kayak rentals are an additional $30. Bring your lunch!

2019 Tour the Shore Dates and Locations

Friday, July 12, 10am to 1pm – Robbins Creek (Choptank River)
Departs from Two Johns Landing in Preston. This paddle helps beat the heat as it meanders alongside the forested Lynch Preserve, property that was donated to Eastern Shore Land Conservancy.  Paddlers might just flush some wood ducks!

Friday, August 23, 10am to 2pm – Wye Island (Wye River)
Join the Miles-Wye Riverkeeper for a paddle that explores the peaceful coves around Wye Island Natural Resource Management Area. With over 85% of the island managed by Maryland State Park Service, this paddle-plus-hike showcases old growth trees and brightly colored song bird species.

Thursday, September 13, 10am to 1pm – Turner’s Creek (Sassafras River)
Join the Sassafras Riverkeeper for a paddle on Turner’s Creek in Kennedyville. Explore the famous tidal pond, see the magnificent lotus blooms, and witness one of the last working waterfronts on the river; a quintessential day on the Sassafras!

Friday, September 27, 10am to 1pm – Chester River
Late September is prime paddle time as the air cools and marshes and forest edges change colors on the upper Chester. For the final paddle of the season, kayakers will be joined by the Chester Riverkeeper, launching from Shadding Reach Landing in Crumpton, and exploring the narrow upper reaches of the Chester.

###

ShoreRivers protects and restores Eastern Shore waterways through science-based advocacy, restoration, and education.

shorerivers.org
Media Contact:
Ann Frock
afrock@shorerivers.org
443.385.0511
(EASTON, MD) July 1, 2019

 

 

 

Smokestack Repair Begins at Last Remaining Phillips Packing Co. Factory

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On Monday, June 24, Structural Preservation Systems began long-awaited renovations to the two street-facing smokestacks of the former Phillips Packing Company’s ‘Factory F’ – the most visible reminder of the canning operation that once employed thousands in Cambridge. Soon to be known as The Packing House, this 60,000 square foot warehouse has sat vacant and deteriorating for decades.

A revitalization project spearheaded by Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) and Baltimore’s Cross Street Partners, The Packing House will become an active, mixed use facility for office and food related innovation. The revitalization project aims to support and grow regional economic opportunities connected to agriculture, aquaculture, environmental technologies, and tourism – all of which make up the leading industries of the Eastern Shore.

“We are elated to share the start of the smokestack restoration,” shares ESLC’s Katie Parks. “Through funding support from the Department of Housing and Community Development, Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Cross Street Partners, and the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, the long-awaited restoration ensures that this historic viewshed will be preserved.”

The repair and stabilization of the iconic 90’ smokestacks, scheduled to take approximately 80 days to complete, is “Phase 1” of the renovation project. Due to the fragile condition of the smokestacks, the project’s development team selected Structural Preservation Systems to complete the restoration – a firm recognized as the industry leader in developing innovative repair solutions for historical structures and the most challenging problems.

To remain up to date with the progress of The Packing House revitalization project, or for more information about the Phillips Packing Company and its historical significance within the Cambridge community, please visit thepackinghousecambridge.com.

NOTE:  Due to safety concerns please stay outside of the marked area. There will be a future press conference scheduled. In the meantime, do not hesitate to send any questions to the contacts above.

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit land conservation organization committed to preserving and sustaining the vibrant communities of the Eastern Shore and the lands and waters that connect them. More at www.eslc.org.

DNR: Species of Carnivorous Plant Found in Maryland

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Dwarf Sundew Expands its Range North

Photo of dwarf sundew

Photo by Chase Howard

Botanists from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and The Nature Conservancy recently confirmed the discovery of a new plant species in Maryland — the dwarf sundew (Drosera brevifolia). Local volunteer botanist Chase Howard discovered and reported the plant growing in open areas with wet, peaty sand in Worcester County.

This is the first record of this species growing in Maryland. Prior to this discovery, Virginia was the northern range limit.

Dwarf sundew is an insectivorous plant with a unique way of catching its prey. The paddle-shaped leaves of the sundew form a rosette at the base and are densely covered with hairs that exude a clear, sticky liquid, which attracts and traps various kinds of insects. It then uses the nutrients from the prey animals as fertilizer. 

Photo of dwarf sundew next to a dime

Photo by Chase Howard

“This clever plant has adapted to life in very nutrient-poor environments,” Maryland Department of Natural Resources community ecologist Jason Harrison said. “Discoveries like this continue to show that we’re not done learning about Maryland’s biodiversity.”

Dwarf sundew is now the smallest of four sundew species known to Maryland. One of the more common sundews is Spatula-leaved sundew (Drosera intermedia), which is known to exist in open wetlands in southern and eastern portions of the state. Two other sundews, Pink sundew (Drosera capillaris) and Roundleaf sundew (Drosera rotundifolia), are much more rare and usually found in very acidic wetlands with peaty soils.

People Land Water – Review of a 6 Year Study

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Fisher and Lewis in Lewis’ farm field.

The Horn Point Laboratory invites you to join a half-day technical meeting, open to the public.  The meeting will review 6 years of data gathered to evaluate the impact of best management practices implemented by farmers to improve water quality.  The meeting will be held on Friday August 9, 2019, from 1-5 pm in Public Hearing Room #110 of the Caroline County government offices in Denton, MD (403 S. 7th Street, Denton MD 21629). Parking is available around the building.

The meeting agenda includes; information on impediments to BMP implementation, a farmer panel reflecting their perspective on BMPs and water quality, and results of water quality monitoring on farms where BMPs are installed, at intermediate streams draining several farms, and at the watershed outlets.

The research project is called “People Land Water” to emphasize that people living and working on the land contribute to the quality of the water leaving the land. Horn Point Laboratory professor, Tom Fisher, and his research team lead this project.  The project is funded by the National Science Foundation, the United States Dept. of Agriculture, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Chesapeake Bay Trust, and the Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology.  The goals of the research are: (1) to obtain the cooperation of farmers to add BMPs to four small watersheds with long-term monitoring, (2) to evaluate farmers’ attitudes towards BMPs and water quality, (3) to examine the economic efficiency of BMPs, and (4) to test the biogeochemical efficiency of BMPs to retain N, P, and soil on farms and out of groundwater and streams.

Jim Lewis, University of Maryland Ag Extension agent shared this comment about the long-term study, “It increases the confidence of farmers like me that the water quality data being collected by Tom Fisher’s research team is accurate because it is right at the site of our farms on the Choptank River. This is the kind of work on Best Management practice that the farm community wants to collaborate on.”

This meeting is an important element of the overall research project. The team will provide attendees with information they have gathered on the people living and working on the land, and the water quality of these four heavily monitored agricultural watersheds. Project leader, Tom Fisher Professor at UMCES – HPL, “My great hope is that we can figure out which Best Management Practices at least make sense and figure out how to properly compensate farmers to implement the ones that work best.”

Please add this event to your calendar and join the discussion of this project and its results.

For more information, contact Anne (410-221-8238 or abgust@umces.edu).

Register to this FREE program via EventBrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/water-quality-agriculture-in-the-choptank-watershed-tickets-63393297058. Space is limited to 110.

People Land Water Science Team: Tom Fisher, Rebecca Fox, Kalla Kvalnes, Anne Gustafson, Erika Koontz, Jim Lewis, Jon Winsten

Interior Announces $6 Million Grant for Blackwater Refuge

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The US Department of the Interior announced yesterday that the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Dorchester County will receive just shy of $6 million to conserve 2,500 acres of habitat to protect migratory birds.

The funds were approved by the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, which allocates funds to the Interior Department to acquire and conserve migratory bird habitat in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The commission meets twice a year to allocate funds and Blackwater Refuge was one of only five projects nationwide to receive grants in the announcement.

The Blackwater grant is aimed at protecting “migrating and wintering American black ducks, mallards, Canada geese and greater snow geese, as well as habitat for black rail, salt-marsh sparrow and other wetland-associated migratory birds. The project will add over 2,600 acres to the refuge’s public hunt program, expanding public opportunities for white-tailed deer, sika deer, turkey, and waterfowl hunting,” according to a press release on June 19.

The funds are made possible from the Duck Stamp program and will go directly to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to manage the project. The stamp program was established in 1934 and 98% of the revenue goes to buy and protect wetlands.

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