West and Rhode Riverkeeper

We work with our community to enforce environmental law, to
promote restoration, and to advocate for better environmental policy.
Contact us: 443-758-7797  ♦  PO Box 172, Shady Side, MD 20764

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Waterkeepers Chesapeake seek to lessen impact of Conowingo Dam

by Michael Helfrich, the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper

Conservation Groups Seek to Lessen Impacts of Conowingo Dam on Susquehanna River, Chesapeake Bay

The lower Susquehanna River hydro-dams produce low-pollution electricity, but that doesn’t mean they do no harm to the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay.  The Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper has been working with scientists and other conservation groups since 2006 to find solutions to these impacts so that we can continue to produce efficient and clean electricity while reducing the damage done to our waterways, and reducing the amount of fees and taxes we are paying to try and clean up the Susquehanna and Chesapeake Bay.

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Wetlands are Life Support System

By Kathy Reshetiloff, Bay Journal News Service
July 18, 2013

Diversity is the spice of life. Nowhere is this more apparent than where land and water meet. The blending of terrestrial and aquatic environments creates a wetland, an ecosystem that often supports more life than either the land or water alone.

When thinking of wetlands, many people envision the marshes found mainly along the shore of the Chesapeake Bay and tidal portions of rivers. They recognize the value of these wetlands as spawning and nursery grounds for fish, shellfish and crabs. Waterfowl and wading birds nest and feed here.

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Red crabs could be seafood's next big thing


The cameras were rolling Tuesday when workers at a Hampton fish house wheeled a vat of glistening Chesapeake ray toward celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern, who had come to Virginia for a taste of it.

The cameras weren't rolling a few minutes later when he put a forkful of Atlantic red crab meat into his mouth and proclaimed, "This is crazy good!"

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Eighteen Chesapeake Bay access sites open in 2012

July 9, 2013

Last year, Chesapeake Bay Program partners opened 18 new public access sites across the watershed, putting residents and visitors in touch with the rivers, streams and open spaces that surround the nation’s largest estuary.

Image courtesy John Flinchbaugh/Flickr

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To be safe, surf the Internet before swimming at the beach

Monitoring programs finding dangerous levels of bacteria in Bay and many of its rivers.

Bay Journal, July 04, 2013

Almost every weekend in the summer, sailboats crowd into the inlets of the Rhode River, just south of Annapolis. Teens cannonball off their bows, while younger children splash close to the beach. The grills come out, and the atmosphere is festive, like an ongoing sailing party.

Chris Trumbauer never wants to break up the mood. But as the Waterkeeper for the West and Rhode rivers, he questions whether these swimmers should be in the water — especially the day after a heavy rain. Have they covered up any cuts and bruises? Do they wash themselves off when they get out of the water? Are they aware that, on the hottest summer days, the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers resemble a simmering soup of bacteria, and contact with the water can lead to all sorts of infections?

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Like Watching Ospreys? Make It a Science


Photo by Jerry Hughes
June 7, 2013

You may have read in Bay Daily about the Chesapeake Conservancy’s Osprey Cam, a live, real-time webcast from a camera hovering over the nest of Tom and Audrey, a Maryland osprey pair. It’s a very cool, non-invasive way to watch the family life of some of the most spectacular birds in the world nesting right here in the Chesapeake Bay region.

And if watching Osprey Cam inspires you to learn more -- and do more -- about these fascinating Chesapeake Bay “fish hawks,” here’s the perfect opportunity:OspreyWatch.

OspreyWatch is a global community of volunteer osprey observers who get outside and document nesting osprey in their own part of the world, then submit notes, data, and photographs to the OspreyWatch website for all to study and share. It’s a program of the Center for Conservation Biology, a research group at the College of William and Mary and Virginia Commonwealth University.

According to its website, the purpose of OspreyWatch is to collect information on a large enough scale to be useful in addressing three pressing issues facing aquatic ecosystems -- global climate change, depletion of fish stocks, and environmental contaminants.

“Osprey are one of very few truly global sentinels for aquatic health,” says OspreyWatch. “They feed almost exclusively on live fish throughout their entire life cycle. They are a top consumer within aquatic ecosystems and are very sensitive to both overfishing and environmental contaminants. Nearly all populations breed in the northern latitudes and winter in the southern latitudes, effectively linking the aquatic health of the hemispheres. Their breeding season in the north is highly seasonal making them an effective barometer of climate change.”

Who knew these ubiquitous Bay icons are also “canaries in the coal mine” for global fish populations, environmental pollution, and climate change?

So in addition to enjoying the on-line family life of Tom and Audrey in Maryland, you can go outside and (respectfully and carefully) observe nesting ospreys in your own community and at the same time contribute to an important global science project.

To learn more and to sign up to become a volunteer for OspreyWatch, clickhere. Now get out there!

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Swim Guide 2013

West/Rhode Riverkeeper Launches Swim Guide Website and Mobile App for 2013 Swimming Season

CONTACT:     Chris Trumbauer, West/Rhode Riverkeeper
410-279-7577 or chris@westrhoderiverkeeper.org

May 23, 2013, Anne Arundel County, Maryland – For countless residents and visitors, Memorial Day signals the unofficial start of summer – and the summer swimming season. Getting information about the water quality of our local waterways has just become a whole lot easier with the launch of the Swim Guide, a new, free, smartphone app (available from App Store, Google Play, or www.theswimguide.org).

Provided and managed by member groups within Waterkeeper Alliance, a network of 207 water protection groups worldwide, the Swim Guide helps the user locate the closest, cleanest swimming area, view photos, and get the latest bacteria sampling data so they can determine if the water is safe for swimming.

The Swim Guide was first introduced last year and adopted locally by West/Rhode Riverkeeper and the South River Federation in Anne Arundel County. The Swim Guide is constantly growing and improving – this year the Assateague Coastal Trust joins the list of Maryland organizations and will include such vacation destinations as Assateague Island National Seashore and Ocean City.

"The Swim Guide gives our residents the information they need to make informed decisions about the health of our waterways in an easy, user-friendly application,” said Chris Trumbauer, the West/Rhode Riverkeeper. “Want to know the latest bacteria levels before you jump off of your dock? Now you can just check your smartphone. Empowering people with information will help build stewardship and awareness for our natural waterways.”

For the West and Rhode Rivers, Swim Guide utilizes water quality monitoring data from the West/Rhode Riverkeeper weekly monitoring program to determine the bacteria level at 14 locations representing public and private community swimming sites. The entire Swim Guide monitoring effort includes nearly 5,000 locations across North America with roughly 80 sites in Maryland and 30 in Anne Arundel County. Information is updated as frequently as the water quality information is gathered.

The innovative, free Swim Guide app also includes descriptions and photographs of beaches and employs a tool for citizens to report a pollution problem from their smartphone or through the website. The first 2013 results are now available, and will be updated weekly through the first week of September.

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West/Rhode Riverkeeper works to protect families and communities by stopping pollution. We strive for healthy and safe rivers and streams. We work together with communities to enforce environmental law, promote restoration, and advocate for better environmental policy. www.westrhoderiverkeeper.org 410-867-7171

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Southern Middle Students Plant 280 Trees in Galesville Park

Seventh-grade students planted tress on a half-acre of land in in Galesville Park on Friday.


Southern Middle School students were busy on Friday planting more than 200


About 50 seventh-grade students from Southern Middle School planted approximately 280 trees on a half-acre in Galesville Park. According to Joe Ports, a restoration coordinator, the goal of the project was to transform some un-utilized turf grass into a forested buffer to protect the nearby Lerch Creek that is a tributary of the West River.

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Recreational and Charter Blue Crab Regulatory Proposal

Maryland’s current recreational blue crab license structure has shortcomings which are recognized by crabbers, enforcement officers, and fishery managers alike. Recreational crabbers find it complicated and confusing.  Natural Resources Police have a hard time explaining its multiple catch limits and different gears to help crabbers understand and follow the rules.  And fishery managers do not have the information on recreational harvest needed to make management decisions.  The impact of the recreational blue crab license shortcomings also extends to Maryland’s budding eco-tourism industry and terrapin conservation efforts.

All these problems make it clear that something must be done.  Fisheries Service has identified a way to fix the problems by restructuring the recreational and charter crabbing license structure.  We have developed a draft regulatory proposal which simplifies the recreational crabbing license structure and modifies it to provide better estimates of recreational catch and effort. It would also implement a waterfront property crab pot license and mechanism to notify waterfront property owner’s with crab pots of measures to conserve terrapins. The proposal provides a crabbing charter decal to facilitate development of charter crabbing and eco-tourism businesses, and increases non-resident recreational crabbing license fees to address stakeholder concerns about congestion at boat ramps and on the water.
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Illegal dumping, litter adds up to big problems for water quality

By Wanda Gooden, DVIDS
April 23, 2013
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. - A cigarette butt carelessly tossed out a car window. A fast food bag tossed along the side of the road. An open motor oil container left in a parking lot. You’ve seen it and wondered why someone would do these things. You might also agree that these things are unsightly, but not everyone realizes that litter and illegal dumping add up to a big water quality problem for the Chesapeake Bay region. Trash travels. 

So, what happens to that cigarette butt that is tossed on the ground? Here, in the urban Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, the butts are frequently picked up by rain water and washed into the nearest storm drain. From there, they are given an express ride through the moving water network and ultimately to the Chesapeake Bay where they can remain for a long time. We know that this body of water is already stressed. 

Cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate, a plastic material which is slow to break down. While the butts are hanging around in the water waiting to degrade, substances can leach out of the butts and present a toxic threat to aquatic animals. 

Another big component of the litter waste stream is plastic. Plastic is present in many of the things we use every day: plastic shopping bags, straws, food utensils, as a wrapping for food and consumer goods – the list goes on and on. 

Unfortunately, many of these plastics wind up as litter that finds its way into the environment when it is not recycled or properly managed in a waste landfill or incinerator. Plastics can take years to break down and can persist in water bodies where they can entangle and choke the life out of aquatic animals. 

While littering usually refers to the careless disposal of waste materials, illegal dumping usually refers to the intentional disposal of large amounts of trash, used oil and vehicle fluids, construction and demolition materials (drywall, roofing shingles, concrete) and large items such as tires, appliances, and furniture, into unpermitted areas. Waterways, stream banks and abandoned/unsecure areas are likely targets where people dump their “stuff.”

Pouring certain liquid wastes, or discarding trash down storm drains can also be considered illegal dumping. Illegally dumped wastes frequently contain hazardous and toxic materials that can harm the environment, people and animals. Litter and illegal dumping are both prohibited in virtually every jurisdiction in the Chesapeake Bay region.

Data collected from the International Coastal Cleanup in 2011 indicated that cigarettes were the number one item collected from beaches and inland waters around the world. Plastics were among the other items in the top 10. Over 81,000 items tallied in the “dumping activities” category were collected from the U.S. alone during this same cleanup event. These included refrigerators, washers, 55-gallon drums, batteries, tires, and construction materials. 

Now, what can you do to prevent litter? Changing a common behavior, like littering, starts with you. You must accept responsibility for your actions and influence the actions of others around you and in the community at large. We all contribute to the problem, so we must all be part of the solution. According to the Keep America Beautiful Campaign, you can start with these actions: 

• Choose not to litter. Make the commitment now to join with thousands of other Americans to not be a litter-bug. 
• Join with others on Facebook. Get your friends and family to join. 
• Remind others not to litter and why. 
• Get a litter bag, and if you smoke, a portable ash receptacle to share – keep these in your car. 
• Volunteer in your community to help prevent and cleanup litter — from cigarette butts to illegal dumps. Join the International Coastal Cleanup on Sept. 21, 2013. 

JBM-HH’s Directorate of Environmental Management needs your help in preventing the installation from being a source of pollutants to the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. This involves not littering or dumping waste. Help JBM-HH become the benchmark for lessening the impacts of its activities on the sensitive waters of the Chesapeake Bay. Fort Myer and portions of Fort McNair have storm drain systems that are intended to collect only storm water. Anything that gets into the storm drains at both installations will flow directly or indirectly to the Potomac River. The storm drains are not connected to a wastewater treatment plant. 

While prevention is the key, relying on public reporting can be effective as an anti-illegal dumping measure. DEM asks that you report illegal dumping, pollution, or anything you see on the installation that could impact water quality or the environment. DEM will investigate all reports and take actions needed to keep the environment clean and to protect water quality. You can report your observations in one of several ways: calling DEM directly at 703-696-8055/8513; stopping by DEM, Bldg. 321 on Stewart Road on the Fort Myer portion of JBM-HH; or by downloading and completing an environmental incident eport form, available at the JBM-HH homepage, www.army.mil/jbmhh/web/jbmhh/directorates/environmentalmanagement.html. 

Read more: http://www.dvidshub.net/news/105609/illegal-dumping-litter-adds-up-big-problems-water-quality#.UXaEaRxIRCe#ixzz2RI7B0fHc

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