Chesapeake Bay Habitat Health Report Card: 2013
The 2013 Chesapeake Bay Health Report Card provides a scientifically-based, transparent, timely, and geographically detailed annual assessment of Chesapeake Bay. The Health Report Card, released annually since 2007 by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES), provides an assessment of the previous year’s conditions. This report card rates 15 reporting regions of the Bay, using seven indicators, five water quality and two biotic, that are combined into a single overarching index of health. Health is defined as progress of the seven indicators towards established, scientifically derived ecological thresholds or goals. A low score therefore means that very few or no water quality and biological health indicators meet desired levels in the region. Quality of water in these locations tends to be very poor, most often leading to very poor habitat conditions for fish and shellfish. A high score means that all water quality and biological health indicators meet desired levels in the region. Quality of water in these locations tends to be very good, most often leading to very good habitat conditions for fish and shellfish.
The following web site enables you to explore the report card via the 15 Bay regions, by the indicators and indices, and as an overview of 2012 Bay health: http://www.chesapeakebayreportcard.org/
Chesapeake Bay – Overview:
Despite a year of above average rainfall and record heat, the overall health of Chesapeake Bay held steady in 2013. Overall, the Chesapeake scored a C (45%), nearly the same score as the previous year (47%), which was up from a D+ and C- in previous years. The James River at the southern end of the Bay is showing a positive trend. Western Shore tributaries such as the Patapsco and Back Rivers and the Elizabeth River also generally improved last year, following wastewater treatment plant upgrades and a decline in atmospheric nitrogen deposition triggered by the implementation of the Clean Air Act. The Choptank River (C-) and the Upper Eastern Shore tributaries (D), such as the Elk, Sassafras, Chester and Miles Rivers, had poor grades last year, due in part to rainfall in excess of 50 inches on the Delmarva peninsula and the resulting runoff of fertilizer and chicken manure applied to the fields.
For a detailed look at the overall Bay Health Index for all reporting regions check out the Integration and Application Network website.