Even scientists were surprised by the good news in a recent study about Chesapeake Bay Watershed protection, which showed that the Clean Air Act has helped to improve water quality in the area. Actions taken to combat acid rain also reduced nitrogen pollution in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed in ways that no one expected.
Chesapeake Bay sunset photgraphed by Matt Haddaway.
The study focused on water quality trends over 23 years in 9 watersheds, along the Appalachian Mountains from Pennsylvania to Western Virginia. According to the EPA, nitrogen oxide emissions from power plants and other human sources had declined 32% over that time due in part to the Clean Air Act of 1990, which responded to concerns about acid rain.
What no one anticipated was how much improvements in air quality would affect water quality. The authors explained the importance of these events. In addition to increasing the acidity of precipitation, excess nitrogen also increases algae in waterways which can harm water quality and marine life.
Of course, there is still much more work to be done and many ways to get involved. These are just a few examples:
The Appalachian Laboratory: Private philanthropy helps to support the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, where this study was conducted. Since 1962, their research has improved the understanding of the consequences of environmental change and helped to manage natural resources, restore ecosystems, and foster ecological literacy.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation: This foundation promotes education, advocacy, litigation, and restoration. A recent project brought 75 volunteers together to plant trees to protect a stream from storm runoff from a nearby farm.
Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay: They’re always looking for citizen participation for innovative projects involving on-the-ground restoration and monitoring activities.
And hey, there’s us! Creeklife is a grassroots company created to bring local people and their watershed environment together. Start learning more about how you can identify environmental problems and raise money for the outdoors.