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Degraded Healthy

Excessive pollution Reduced pollution

More nutrients (N & P) Fewer nutrients (N & P)

Dying grass Healthy grass bed
Cloudy Dense Moderate Clearer
water algae algae water

Degraded oyster bed
Dying algae Healthy oyster bed

Less fish Less
oxygen More N & P More fish
habitat habitat
Less N & uptake
P uptake More
oxygen
Deep bottom-dwelling Zero Robust bottom-dwelling
communities killed oxygen communities

Restoration Cycle
Distribution of
Submerged Aquatic
Vegetation (SAV) in the
Tidal Potomac

• SAV occupied virtually all
shallow water habitat during
early 1900s in the upper
Potomac; SAV gone by 1940
• SAV now returning to upper
Potomac and tributary creeks

Slide adapted from Walter Boynton, UMD
Map from Chris Jones, GMU

Underwater Grasses Recover
Upper Potomac SAV

• Large reduction in WWTP
discharges of nitrogen
• Diversity of SAV species
increased, including native
species
• Other habitat features also
improved (e.g., waterfowl,
fishing)

Slide courtesy of Walter Boynton, UMD
Adapted from Ruhl and Rybicki 2010

WWTP Upgrades Pay Off
SAV in the Upper
Patuxent River Estuary

Recovery • SAV gone by 1970 in upper
area estuary
• P removal at WWTP in 1986…
no SAV
• N removal at WWTP 1992–1993
• Dramatic SAV response by 1994
and sustained to the present day

Slide adapted from Walter Boynton, UMD
Map from Chris Jones, GMU

WWTP Upgrades Pay Off
100
Oligohaline P N
Tidal Fresh Removal Removal
Begins Begins
80
SAV Coverage, ha

60

40

20

0
1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005

Year
Slide courtesy of Walter Boynton, UMD

WWTP Upgrades Pay Off
Chesapeake Bay Watershed Municipal and Industrial
Wastewater Treatment Facilities Discharged Nitrogen Loads: 1985-2015
120 3000

Industrial

100 Municipal 2500

Municipal Flow
TN EOS Load (million lbs/yr)

80 2000

Municipal Flow (mgd)
60 1500

40 1000

20 500

0 0 Slide courtesy
of Rich Batiuk,
1990

1997

2004
1985
1986
1987
1988
1989

1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996

1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003

2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015

WIP2
EPA

Discharged Nitrogen: 1985–2015
Chesapeake Bay SAV Trends: 1978–2016
Almost
100,000
acres!

Goal: 185,000

SAV Trends: 1978–2016
The Bay’s
Summertime
Dead Zone is
Decreasing in
Size!

Source: Testa, 2017 unpublished
Decreasing Dead Zone
Carlos Roldan
Jay Fleming

Blue Crabs
Jay Fleming

Oysters
Jay Fleming

Rockfish
Chesapeake Bay Watershed Nitrogen Loads: 1985-2015

1985: 318 2015: 242

Where did the nitrogen
2015
2015 reductions come from?
Agriculture Urban Runoff Wastewater+CSO Septic Forest59%
+ NonTidal AtDep
Wastewater
unoff Wastewater+CSO Septic Forest + NonTidal AtDep
39% Agriculture
2% Forest

Nitrogen Pollution