Great Writing on Chesapeake Bay

There a lot of flaws with the Washington Post, starting with its relentlessly elitist editorial page. 

However, you have to recognize excellent writing which combines objective facts, personal observations and a larger picture.  The Post’s series by David Farenthold on the Chesapeake Bay — which continues to be a “dead zone” for aquatic life — is just that.

There has been a lot of political double-talk over the years about cleaning up the Bay and restoring native populations.  Talk, talk, talk.  There has also been much money spent.  I remember 2005, when a flush economy allowed Virginia’s Assembly to pump $50 million into Bay restoration. 

What did we buy?  Not enough. 

The problems are simply the same.  Human life and animal life create waste which runs off into the tributaries feeding the Bay.  This nutrient-rich effluent in the watershed creates algae in the Bay which suffocates native species of plant and shellfish.  This changed plant life also disrupts the feeding cycle of fish and crabs which call the Bay home. 

As the reproductive process is stifled, overfishing and overharvesting reduces the remaining populations so that the Bay — while appearing the same on the surface — is denuded of the aquatic life that has historically sustained the Bay states (Virginia and Maryland). 

You can find a number of culprits, starting with development which creates human waste and impervious surfaces accelerating runoff into the watershed.  You can also blame agriculture, as farmers in the watershed continue to allow their cattle to wade into streams and send waste into the Bay.  You can blame the watermen who have continued to harvest oysters and crabs without giving them a chance to replenish.

You can blame them all.  Or you can blame none of them.  It may be that it is not possible for a Bay to receive the pollutants for the greater Mid-Atlantic region and still sustain its own natural life. 

Because right now that model is not working. 

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