Chesapeake Bay Report Cites Environmental Justice Disparities – WTOP News

Advertisements

A report on the Chesapeake Bay released Tuesday found stark disparities between communities in different parts of the bay’s watershed in terms of health, economic and social justice concerns.

Advertisements


FILE – A small boat travels along the Honga River near the Chesapeake Bay as the sky lights up at dawn in Fishing Creek, Md., May 14, 2020. A report on the Chesapeake Bay released on Tuesday, June 6, 2023, found stark disparity between communities in different parts of the bay watershed in terms of health, economics, and social justice issues, presenting the challenges of improving the health of the nation’s largest estuary in a larger context. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)(AP/Julio Cortez)

A report on the Chesapeake Bay released Tuesday found stark disparities between communities in different parts of the bay’s watershed in terms of health, economic and social justice concerns.

Advertisements

The findings show a broader context for the challenges of improving the health of the nation’s largest estuary, as this was the first time an integrated Environmental Justice Index was included in the assessment by the University of California’s Center for Environmental Sciences. Maryland. The index considers social factors such as poverty, race, ethnicity, and pre-existing health conditions.

While UMCES has looked at things like walkability and income inequalities in communities in recent years, this year the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added a new integrated Environmental Justice Index that adds a component healthcare that UMCES had not considered before. This includes census-level data from more than 4,000 reporting regions across the watershed.

The bay’s health is a reflection of what’s happening in its six-state watershed, which includes Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

Advertisements

Tuesday’s report indicates that urban and rural areas face greater challenges than suburban areas under the Environmental Justice Index, which includes social vulnerability, environmental burdens such as air and water quality, and health vulnerabilities, such as underlying conditions such as asthma or diabetes.

Rural parts of the bay watershed like the eastern coast of Maryland and Virginia face greater challenges, said Bill Dennison, vice president for scientific applications at UMCES.

What is really evident here is that to have a healthy ecosystem you must have a healthy community. If you don’t have a healthy community, the net result is that the bay will feel the effect, Dennison said. The inequalities that were seen on an economic and social level are also manifesting themselves in the health of the bay.

Advertisements

Similar to last year, UMCES gave the overall health of the bay a C grade on its report card. However, the center noted that the bay has shown improving trends overall.

However, the center’s president, Peter Goodwin, said there is work to be done to reduce nutrient pollution. While having more nutrients in your water might sound like a good thing, in this case it’s actually pollution like nitrogen and phosphorus from agricultural and urban runoff. Pollution acts as a fertilizer and causes excessive algae growth, which produces toxins that can make swimmers ill and harm fish.

We need to accelerate the pace of recovery so we can meet our nutrient reduction goals in the future and ensure our resilience to climate change, said Peter Goodwin, president of UMCES.

Advertisements

It is widely believed that states in the watershed will miss a 2025 deadline to significantly reduce nutrients flowing into the bay.

The Bay’s overall health score has increased by six points over the past two years, according to the report.

Of seven indicators, there were improvements in water clarity, nitrogen, phosphorus and aquatic grasses.

Advertisements

At a press conference announcing the report card, Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen described the bay’s restoration efforts as “trying to get on an escalator that’s going down.

We need to set new and ambitious goals and we need to hold ourselves accountable for getting there, said Van Hollen, a Democrat.

Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, transmitted, written or redistributed.

Advertisements

#Chesapeake #Bay #Report #Cites #Environmental #Justice #Disparities #WTOP #News

Leave a Comment