2017-2018 Chesapeake Bay Barometer:
Encouraging Signs for Water Quality but with Challenges Ahead
The Bay Barometer is a timely reminder that the Chesapeake Bay Cleanup effort is working, but that we have much work ahead to meet our 2025 goals. The annual Bay Barometer is produced by the Chesapeake Bay Program and provides a science-based snapshot of Bay health and progress towards Bay restoration goals. Watershed-wide, the Bay partnership has exceeded the 2017 targets for phosphorus and sediment, while falling short on nitrogen reductions. Climate change is resulting in increased air temperatures, warmer stream temperatures and Hampton Roads is experiencing the greatest increase in relative sea level rise across the Bay. Still, the Bay Barometer indicates investments in watershed restoration are working, resulting in the best water quality since monitoring began in 1985, along with improved acreages of underwater grasses in the James River and across the Chesapeake in 2017.
At the James River Association, we remain committed to maintaining the momentum toward a fully restored James River and Chesapeake Bay. JRA recently restored 18 acres of riparian stream buffers and planted almost 4,500 trees in the James River watershed, removing over 700 pounds of nitrogen and 100 pounds of phosphorus from the James each year. We continue to push for increased funding at the federal and state level to help farmers put conservation practices like riparian buffers to work for their farms and for our rivers. Riparian buffers are a critical, cost-effective tool for treating agricultural run-off and keeping pollution out of our water.
Later this month, Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will release the draft Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan, which will outline how our state plans to work with partners at the federal and local level to reach our water quality goals by 2025. We look forward to reviewing the draft with the Bay Barometer in mind to make sure we keep Virginia on the right path toward cleaner water for the James and for the Commonwealth.