Environmental Economic Impact Of Pollution In The Chesapeake Bay

2859 words - 12 pages

The Chesapeake Bay is the nation’s largest estuary with six major tributaries, the James, the Potomac, the Susquehanna, the Patuxent, the York, and the Rappahannock Rivers, feeding into the bay from various locations in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia (Chemical Contaminants in the Chesapeake Bay – Workshop Discussion 1). These areas depend on the Bay as both an environmental and an economic resource. Throughout the last 15 years the Chesapeake Bay has suffered from elevated levels of pollution. Nitrogen and phosphorous from wastewater treatment plants, farmland, air pollution, and development all lead to reduced water clarity and lowered oxygen ...view middle of the document...

The heightened awareness of diseases that can be contracted through consumption of contaminated fish also has an economic impact. Therefore, the excess levels of nitrogen and phosphorous have fueled an overabundance of algal blooms, which has reduced water clarity and lowered oxygen levels, affecting many species within the bay and ultimately the industries that rely on these species.

The signing of the 1987 Chesapeake Bay Agreement marked the first joint venture between Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Chesapeake Bay Commission to improve water quality by reducing point and non-point source pollution (The Chesapeake Bay Watershed 1). The goal of this program was to reduce the level of nitrogen and phosphorous flowing to the Bay by 40% by the year 2000, from their 1985 levels (Blankenship 2). The first step in this program was to reduce the amount of nutrient pollution from point sources (end-of-the-pipe) such as wastewater treatment facilities that feed into the many tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay (The Chesapeake Bay Watershed 1). However, the results of these cleanup efforts were not enough to reach the goal of the program. Therefore, the areas involved now had to target the non-point sources of nitrogen and phosphorous. The non-point sources are storm water run off from agricultural and developed sites, air pollution, and the development of sensitive forests that act as buffers for tributaries and the Bay (1). The Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act of 1989 took aim at these sources in Tidewater Virginia by requiring resource management practices in the use and development of environmentally sensitive land (1). The Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Ordinance of 1991 also took aim at these non-point sources by designating environmentally sensitive areas in Virginia Beach as Resource Protection Areas and Resource Management Areas which are intended to protect the integrity of the lands that effect the Chesapeake Bay (2). The States involved also enforced tougher car emissions policies so that the air pollution contribution would be reduced (2). These ordinances were aimed at reducing the pollution of the Chesapeake Bay by reducing high levels of phosphorous and nitrogen. The government’s policies effect the economy in the Chesapeake Bay by changing the ways in which industries distribute their waste.

The pollution and over-harvesting of the Chesapeake Bay have greatly effected the economy of the area. The net economic condition of the region is caused by the downward swing of fishery output and sales due to the pollution in the Bay as well as the businesses that are effected by the government mandates. There has been a significant downturn in the net profit of the fisheries due to sewage runoff and development around the Bay. The government has recognized the pollution as a problem for economics and bio-diversity. Stated governments, mainly Maryland,...

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