The Chesapeake Bay watershed supports thriving agricultural, fishing, and urban communities, as well as an abundance of aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Ensuring the watershed’s future economic and environmental sustainability requires taking steps to enhance the quality of waterways flowing across the region and into the bay. Between 1980 and 2017, the region’s population increased by 43%. At the same time, increasing levels of sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorus have runoff from urban and agricultural lands and into the Chesapeake’s waterways. This runoff endangers freshwater habitats and has nourished large algae blooms in the Bay, which in turn deplete oxygen levels and leave large areas of water uninhabitable to marine life.
A Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for the Chesapeake was set in 2010, establishing targets for reducing nutrient runoff into the Bay by 2025. Since then, numerous stakeholders have come together to restore the Chesapeake Bay watershed and meet the TMDL targets. Their efforts have already met with initial successes. Between 2014 and 2016, a near-record 40 percent of the Chesapeake Bay and its waterways met clean water standards. However, more work is needed to produce the same results in the remaining 60 percent.
Our project aims to contribute to this goal by working collaboratively and bringing together different forms of knowledge and expertise to ensure the future economic and environmental sustainability of the watershed.