Boat for the Bay

by : Branden Schroeder

Chesapeake Bay and its many Maryland tributaries offer some of the most beautiful waterfront areas in the country. It's no surprise that this area is popular with the boating population - many home owners here enjoy waterfront access. However, some may be surprised to know that local boaters are actually helping to clean up local waters.

Chesapeake Bay is threatened by a number of sources of pollution that cause excessive levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in the water. This causes rapid growth of algae, known as algal blooms, which blocking sunlight to the detriment of beneficial plant life. The algal blooms present a further threat to shellfish, fish and even humans by lowering the water's oxygen levels and sometimes releasing harmful toxins. Algal blooms are a cause or contributor to dead zones in the Bay - areas where aquatic life cannot survive because there is so little oxygen. These zones were experienced in about 40 per cent of the Bay last summer.

However, home owners and local residents are trying to improve the water. In association with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, boaters are taking a pledge to protect the Bay in order to defend the area's threatened fish, crab and oysters, and to preserve this beautiful area for future generations. Boaters for the Bay is a free program that invites local boaters to take up the challenge to leave waters cleaner and healthier for future generations

As advocates for the Bay, boaters commit to litter free and pollution free boating and keep watch for abnormal water conditions and marine anomalies. The Foundation offers several tips for responsible boating including ideas on how to prevent fuel and oil spills, and safer maintenance ideas. The group also encourages boaters to dispose of hazardous waste, sewage and garbage properly, to use phosphate-free soap, and to reduce grey water discharges. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation offers more tips and lots of information about the Bay's geography, plants and animals on their website.

You don't have to be a boater to help the Bay - we all benefit from a cleaner waterway. Whether you are a thinking of moving to the area, or are a longtime resident, there are many ways that you can get involved. Working together to improve the neighborhood not only increases the value of our properties, it can also increase the quality of our relationships and our sense of community.