Widgeon Grass, another Chesapeake Success Story

widgeon grass
Widgeon grass. Photo credit: Bay Journal

Spurred by a tripling of widgeon grass, the acreage of underwater grasses in the Chesapeake Bay grew 8% between 2015 and 2016 to about 97,000 acres. The expanse, which exceeds the 2017 restoration goals set under the Chesapeake Bay program, was the highest recorded by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science in 30 years of measurements, reports the Daily Press.

The achievement is “fantastic,” says Robert “J.J.” Orth, who heads up the seagrass monitoring and restoration program at VIMS. “It speaks a lot to the fact that … the efforts to clean up the bay, the TMDLs, probably are working.”

TDMLs, or total maximum daily loads, are limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency for levels of nitrogen, phosophorous and sediment allowed into the bay and its tributaries.

Underwater grasses are a critical element in the bay ecosystem, providing habitat for blue crabs, young fish, and other aquatic animals. They also absorb excess nutrients, buffer shoreline erosion and promote water clarity.

Widgeon grass, a food for migratory water fowl, thrives in the moderately salty waters of the middle and lower bay. A “boom or bust” species, the grass can experience rapid growth and dramatic declines. There is a risk that a 2003 die-off that resulted in the loss of half the bay’s widgeon grass could occur again. But the Daily Press says Orth is optimistic that warmer bay temperatures will forestall a repeat next year.

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9 responses to “Widgeon Grass, another Chesapeake Success Story”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    92 lawmakers, 22 states side with Farm Bureau in TMDL appeal

    ” More than 90 members of Congress, along with 22 states and several business trade groups, have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the American Farm Bureau Federation’s challenge to the Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan.

    The Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load, which was developed over several years by the EPA and states within the watershed, set limits on the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment that could enter the Bay. Those limits were then subdivided among states, river basins and different sources of pollution.

    The Farm Bureau contends that setting limits on different sources of pollution, such as urban runoff, wastewater treatment plans and stormwater, in effect regulates land use — authority for which rests with the states.

    Members of Congress from the Bay watershed signing onto the brief include Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania; Reps. Randy Forbes, Bob Goodlatte, Robert Hurt and Morgan Griffith of Virginia;

    Trump administration proposes eliminating funding for EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program

  2. Andrew Roesell Avatar
    Andrew Roesell

    Dear Larry,

    I agree with your support of Chesapeake Bay clean-up and am forced to disagree with the President’s desire to eliminate this EPA program. Hopefully, Congress can keep intact the program and its funding.



  3. LarrytheG Avatar

    legitimate policy issue:?

    ” The Farm Bureau contends that setting limits on different sources of pollution, such as urban runoff, wastewater treatment plans and stormwater, in effect regulates land use — authority for which rests with the states.”

    You know -when you get right down to it – density – outsources it’s pollution – not only storm water and poop… but electricity generated outside the city, food grown on farms that then are said to “pollute” – thus the Farm Bureaus opposition.

    So cities basically expect the areas external to them to subsidize them on pollution..

    here’s another example:

    Fairfax County Sues EPA to Challenge Stormwater Rule

    Suit challenges the EPA’s recently established rules governing Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) limits for Accotink Creek.

    Proposed TMDL limits on stormwater flow provide no reasonable assurance that targets can be attained or that they will correct the underlying problem.
    Rule also will directly affect homeowners and commercial property owners.

    they and Alexandria sound just like the Farm Bureau folks

    so now they’re all gonna get their wish.. the “conservatives” ( a word directly related to conservation”.. will, no doubt, go along with Mr. Trump and his efforts to gut the EPA and then we can all stand by and cluck our respective tongues as the Bay resumes being flushed down the tubes.

    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      One more time. Fairfax County won its lawsuit against the EPA. The court ruled the statute, relied upon by the EPA to support its rules, did not permit the EPA to adopt those rules. The Agency engaged in overreach. Do you think federal agencies should be allowed to regulate things Congress does not allow them to regulate?

      The law allows the EPA to regulate pollutants, including sediment. But that’s not what the EPA did. It adopted a rule to regulate storm water, which is not a pollutant.

      When agencies can exercise power beyond their statutory authority, we are all at risk. We might as well move to North Korea or Iran.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        re: “overreach”… it won on a technical point – to stop the EPA from requiring them to clean up their creeks full of runoff from developed land that contained antifreeze, motor-oil, pet poop .. and all kinds of disgusting trash..

        and you defend that.. without advocating that Fairfax SHOULD be cleaning that stuff up … just as you do advocate that Alexandria clean their runoff up.

        to advocate that Alexandria clean up their poop and claim that Fairfax does not have to – over a technicality is hypocrisy.

        If Fairfax was putting the crap into gutters and sewers they’d have to clean it up .. but since they do not have the combined sewer system – you’re essentially using that as an excuse for not cleaning it up.

        I’m FINE with your point about the technicality of the law. I’m NOT FINE with you not advocating that Fairfax clean it’s crap up as part of your “advocacy”.

        this is hypocrisy.. and it ruins our politics because we’re advocating double standards based on discrepancies in the law that should not be there in the first place. The law should require cleanup whether the crap is in the combined sewer system – or just running off directly into creeks.

        the result is the same – crap in the Potomac and the Bay – and the “defense” is basically using a quirk in the law to defend it.

        1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

          Larry, I understand your view. But I’m not sure I’d want you on a jury. Laws are important. The words in the statutes are important. The obligations and standards set forth in a law are important.

          A and B are in an altercation. B dies from a gunshot or stabbing. If the Commonwealth can prove A had a plan to provoke and kill B, A is guilty of 1st degree murder. If the Commonwealth cannot prove that, but can show A intended to kill B when he pulled the trigger or stabbed B with a knife, B is guilty of 2nd degree murder. But if A can prove B pulled a gun and A was in fear of his life, A may well be acquitted of murder based on self defense. The facts and the standards are important. The words in the statutes are extremely important to both A and the Commonwealth. They are not mere technicalities.

          The law is full of differences. Federal agencies have certain powers and limitations on those powers. Apparently, the Obama EPA thought it could not achieve the result it wanted by regulating pollutants (here sediment). So somebody probably said, “Let’s do it indirectly by regulating water flow.” And likely one or more career EPA lawyers stood up and said, “We don’t have the statutory authority to regulate storm water because it’s not a pollutant. If we make this rule and have to defend it, we are likely to lose in court.”

          But the EPA did it anyway. And, as counsel likely predicted, the EPA lost. Obama could have had his minions in Congress introduce a bill to expand the law. But he didn’t.

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            @TMT – I understand the Law and Fairfax was right on the law and the EPA wrong -but Fairfax STILL HAS THE RESPONSIBILITY to do the same thing that Alexandria is be held accountable for – which is to keep pollutants out of the river – even if you can evade that responsibility through a loophole in the law.

            Fairfax had the opportunity to do what was right – and instead they chose to exploit a hole in the law to evade doing what they have a responsibility to do – and that is – address the runoff problems that are polluting the Potomac with much of the very same crap that Alexandria is putting in the river.

            I give credit to EPA to TRY to get some level of accountability – they had a duty to do that. Having done their duty and lost – they will try to go back and address the flaw in the law.. that allows Fairfax to CHOOSE to not be responsible on their own – and to wait until an external authority comes to force them to do what they should have done without having someone else force them.

            You seem to delight in the fact that Fairfax was right on the law and got away with continuing to pollute the river.

            so there are two parts here 1. the law and 2. what is right

            I think both need to be satisfied. Fairfax is doing exactly what the Farm Bureau is doing by refusing to do their share of the cleanup – while at the same time pointing fingers at Alexandria and farmers.

            shame on you guys.. there’s just not much to admire about you on this issue. Not guilty and not innocent!

          2. TooManyTaxes Avatar

            Larry – Fairfax County is doing a lot on storm water management issues, including those related to Accotink Creek. The County levies a special real estate tax to fund storm water programs. And it’s has a major effort to address Accotink Creek. It has 600 page management plan. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes/watersheds/publications/ac/01_ac_wmp_full_ada.pdf

            The County publishes an annual report on storm water progress. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes/publications/stormwater/2016-stormwater-status-report.pdf

            Contrast this to the City of Alexandria.

      2. djrippert Avatar

        You keep dissembling on this lawsuit and I keep calling you out. Here a line from the judge’s written opinion …

        “Both parties agree that sediment is a pollutant and stormwater is not.”

        Nobody claimed stormwater was a pollutant. Well, nobody except you and Ken Cuccinelli.

        The EPA contended that stormwater overflowing from the ecological disaster that is Accotink Creek could be used as a proxy for sediment since the run off from storms ALWAYS carries sediment with it.

        I live in Fairfax County and I’ll pay the extra taxes required to clean up disgusting pig styes like Accotink Creek. I will pay the extra taxes because I am a conservative and I believe in property rights. It is not acceptable to me that the pigs living in Fairfax County can pollute the water of others. It shouldn’t be acceptable to anybody.

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