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Nitrogen pollutants in the Chesapeake Bay

Chesapeake Bay watershed pollutants increase
Chesapeake Bay watershed pollutants increase
Anna Renault

What does nitrogen do when it enters a river, stream or the Bay? It robs the water of oxygen. This in turn allows algae-blooms. Large algae-blooms cause further damage by blocking needed sunlight that allows subaquatic vegetation (SUVs) to grow. SUVs provide a healthy habitat for fish, crabs, oysters and other aquatic life which is essential to a healthy and balanced water system.

It was noted in Part 1, that the Maryland Board of Public Works approved a $17 million grant to upgrade the Blue Plains sewage treatment plant. This plant is the largest single source of nitrogren pollution within the Bay's watershed.

The Blue Plains plant is located directly on the Potomac River which divides Maryland from Washington D.C. and also runs through part of northern Virginia where it drains into the Chesapeake Bay

A second grant was also approved by the Maryland Board of Public Works. A $600,000 grant was approved to pay for sewer upgrades within the city of Frostburg. Frostberg is located at the northern end of the Potomac watershed. The design of these upgrades will focus on reducing overflows during storms which has continued to add excessive amounts of nitrogren into the Bay's watershed.

Other sewage treatment plants, such as the Back River Solid Waster and Sewage Treatment Facility, are being investigated. Some reports indicate that pollutants above the allowed limits are spewing into the watershed at times other than during storm overflows. This is having a seriously negative impact on the Bay's environment. Major overhauls may be required in treatment facilities throughout the entire watershed. This will cost millions of dollars!


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