Outreach & Extension: Water Quality
Lawn fertilizer, wastewater, stormwater — the Chesapeake Bay is constantly on the receiving end. Runoff from land and pollution from cities and industries are major factors affecting the Bay’s water quality. The influx of excess nutrients — especially phosphorus and nitrogen — from both point and nonpoint sources is of special concern. Nutrients can alter the Bay’s delicate balance, leading to excess algal production and low levels of oxygen in the water, threatening life in the Chesapeake. Poor water quality is both an environmental concern and an economic problem. Chesapeake Bay fisheries, boating, and tourism — not to mention waterfront real estate — are multi-million dollar activities jeopardized by deteriorating water quality.
To address complex water quality issues facing the Bay, Maryland Sea Grant Extension has mounted a Water Quality Focus Team. This team works to understand the dynamic conditions that support the Bay’s ecologically important underwater grasses, plants, and algae — remember that the right kind of algae and in the right amounts serves as food for oysters, menhaden, and other parts of the Bay’s food chain. In fact, algae make up the very base of the food chain. Because algae can also cause problems, the team addresses issues related to excess algae, as well as harmful algal blooms (HABs) and the lack of oxygen (anoxia or hypoxia) that can result from too much of a good thing.
The same water quality issues that affect the Chesapeake Bay can also affect Maryland’s ponds and aquaculture facilities. The Water Quality Focus Team has developed several strategies to reduce nutrient and chemical inputs to ponds and aquaculture facilities and to mitigate their effects. Through outreach programs geared toward Maryland’s aquaculture community, the Team helps to ensure successful implementation of best management practices for aquaculture.
Learn more about the Water Quality Extension Program’s efforts in the following areas: