The Chesapeake Bay Watershed
The largest estuary in the US and once, one of the most productive bodies of water in the world lies just a few miles east of Howard County. Home to crabs, oysters, rockfish, bluefish, shad, terrapin and many other tasty dishes, the bay is a wonderful natural resource, an important economic engine, and a well used recreational destination for all of us in the Mid-Atlantic States.
Howard County lies between the Patapsco and the Patuxent rivers, two major tributaries that drain into the Chesapeake Bay. Rain that falls on the county will run off our lawns, streets, and buildings into local streams and eventually flow into the Bay. These waters carry top soil, silt, fertilizer, and other things high in nitrogen and phosphởrous as well as other contaminants like oil and grease that come from our homes and parking lots. Nitrogen and phosphởrous and these other contaminants can be harmful to the crabs, fish, and grasses in the bay if the rain does not have the chance to filter into the ground and resupply the groundwater table on its way to recharging the streams in this area.
Storm water runoff
The best way to prevent contaminating the bay is for each of us to:
- Eliminate or reduce the amount of fertilizer or herbicides we use on our lawns
- Replace grass with native shrubs and trees
- Drive less and drive hybrid cars
- Buy organic food
- Reduce the amount of impermeable surfaces, such as driveways and walkways
- Capture the rain by installing rain gardens and infiltration systems
- Support the restoration of our storm water management systems
Waste water treatment
The other major source for contamination of our rivers and the bay comes from when we flush our waste down sinks and toilets. The waste water treatment plants can not remove all of our residue. Therefore it is important that each of us helps out by:
- Not disposing of oils and grease down our sinks
- Not wasting water
- Never disposing medicines or other chemicals down our sinks and toilets
- Limit use of garbage disposals
Numerous local groups are dedicated to the restoration of our watershed. They need your help in spreading the word and in restoring the streams right here in Howard County. Go check them out and see what you can do to Save the Bay.
The Howard County Conservancy in Woodstock
Friends of the Patapsco Valley and Heritage Greenway
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation