Study Shows Water Quality Improvement

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Study Shows Water Quality Improvement

Prince Frederick, MD - 4/30/2013

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By Marty Madden

Left to right, Dr. David Brownlee and Dr. Walter Boynton
Left to right, Dr. David Brownlee and Dr. Walter Boynton

An optimistic tone highlighted the latest report from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory (CBL) regarding the water quality of several Calvert County creeks. The report on 2012 data was presented to the Calvert County Commissioners by CBL’s Dr. Walter Boynton during the board’s Tuesday, April 30 meeting.

“This is really terrific news,” said Boynton, who explained less nitrogen is seeping into the waterways, which subsequently empty into the Chesapeake Bay. Levels of algae were also lower. “There are a lot of reasons these are going down,” said Boynton, who noted 2012 was a drought year, a factor that yielded better water quality.

Lab scientists monitored six creeks on the Patuxent River and three east county creeks. “As in years past, highest average concentrations of algae and lowest water clarity were found in the farthest upstream stations on Mill Creek and St. John Creek,” stated Department of Community Planning and Building Environmental Planner Dr. David Brownlee. “Bacterial sampling by Maryland Department of the Environment [MDE] was reported in the report. At the three stations in the [Solomons] Harbor, only one value exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] standards for Class 1 primary contact (swimming rafting and kayaking) and two measurements exceeded the standard for shellfish harvesting.”

“I’m really happy to see we’re moving in the right direction,” said Commissioner Susan Shaw [R], who added county government needed to do a better job of reminding area boaters of the importance of using marina pump-out stations and alerting waders about the dangers of vibrio.

Commissioner Gerald W. “Jerry” Clark [R] wanted to know if county leaders could use the encouraging data refute the contention of EPA officials that Calvert needs to spend over $1 billion to comply with the Watershed Implementation Plan requirements for reducing maximum daily loads of nitrogen.

“You ought to use this data in any form you wish to,” said Boynton.

Commissioner Evan K. Slaughenhoupt Jr. [R] asked Boynton if the 2013 report could include “comparable data for Parkers Creek.” Boynton indicated that was doable.

The executive summary of the report proposes county government officials take several actions. The list includes encouraging the use of biological nitrogen removal for septic systems; establishing, maintain and expanding riparian buffer zones, the aforementioned boater pump-out facilities encouragement campaign and support for environmental education. The commissioners unanimously approved adopting the strategy and budgeting $27,427 in the fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget for the 2013 study. That amount represents a $1,372 increase from the FY 2013 budget amount. The funding comes from the Department of Community Planning and Building’s budget.

Contact Marty Madden at

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