The Background

The Chesapeake Bay watershed is one of the largest in the United States spanning from central New York to Virginia Beach. As is the rest of the world, the Chesapeake Bay is at the whims of climate change. On a macro scale, the changing climate for the Chesapeake Bay watershed will result in an increase in coastal flooding and the submerging of coastal wetlands, an increase in Bay water salinity, an increase in harmful algae, an increase in dead zones, and altered interactions within underwater ecosystems (Najjar, 2000). The Chesapeake Bay has a profound impact on the 17 million people who live within its watershed (National Wildlife Foundation). Much of coastal Maryland uses the waters of the Chesapeake to fish and crab, and the Bay itself is the host of many recreational activities including boating, swimming and sailing. Within the watershed as a whole, nearly 75% of inhabitants get their drinking water either from the bay itself or from a river or stream that will flow into the bay (Solyst, 2021). For all of these important uses, Bay health is crucial to the livelihood of millions on the East Coast of the United states. The current health of the Chesapeake bay is very much in the hands of the inhabitants of the Chesapeake. Unhealthy practices at home will lead to pollution that will run off into the Chesapeake, and unhealthy business practices can be very harmful to Bay Health overall. Throughout the course of this study I hope to explore current polluters of the Bay and look at their direct impacts on Bay Health, as well as offer solutions for the health of the Chesapeake Bay going forward.

Land Segments and Pollution Point Sources

The first map below shows two layers; the first being the Phase 6 Land-River Segments of the Chesapeake Bay. Phase 6 Land-River Segments represent the combination of land segments, which are primarily based on county boundaries, and river segments, which represent watershed boundaries (Maryland Department of the Environment). In my map, I chose to display the 6 major basins which flow into the Chesapeake Bay. The river basins start in the middle of Virginia with the James River Basin and span as high as the middle of New York with the Susquehanna River Basin. To understand differences in water qualities at different parts of the bay, it is important to know where that water is flowing from. The phase 6 data layer comes from USGS and I manipulated it so that it showed by using different colors, the different major basins of the chesapeake bay. The second layer, visible as black dots, shows different major polluting sources of the Bay. When you click on one of these black dots, it tells you a variety of information including the name of the facility, the Basin which the facility falls within, and the type of waste the facility is producing, whether it be municipal or industrial waste. The concentration of these waste producing facilities is noticeably higher within some Basins as it is in others. Noticeably, within the northeast of the potomac basin in comparison to the Susquehanna river basin. This facility point dataset came from the Chesapeake Bay Program, which is a regional partnership that works to meet the agreed upon goals of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed agreement. The Chesapeake Bay watershed agreement is an inclusive, goal-oriented document that addresses emerging environmental concerns and aligns federal directives with state and local goals to work towards the creation of a healthy Bay (Chesapeake Progress, 2022). This dataset was initially very large, but I had cleaning to do to remove unwanted columns. At the end, the columns that remained were the polluting facility’s name, which Basin it was in, the discharge type, the FIPS number, state, and county.