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Chesapeake Bay Action Plan Sets Clear Goals For Cleaning Up Polluted Waters

The Clean Water Act, ennacted in 1972, established goals to eliminate high levels of toxic substances in the water by 1985, and to make surface water safe for human recreation by 1983. Three decades later, the Act seems little more than a good intention. While some bodies of water have seen improvements- like the Charles River in Boston or the Hudson in NY, a large number of major rivers, tribuataries, and estuaries continue to be polluted.

The source of the pollution varies- from pesticides and herbicides, industrial solvents, detergents, and food processing waste to tree and brush debris from logging operations. Thermal pollution caused by industry and rising global temperatures- exacerbates the problem by raising water temperatures, which decreases oxygen supply, killing fish and increasing algal growth. Every year, about a quarter of beaches across the country are under advisories or closed due to unsafe conditions.

One group working hard to implement change for our waterways is the signatories of the Chesapeake Bay Action Plan. The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the country, connecting to the Atlantic Ocean and surrounded by Maryland and Virginia. While noted for its beauty, the bay has experienced the effects of extreme pollution in the last few decades, mostly in the form of nitrogen and phosphorus build-up, resulting in loss of marine life that affects entire ecosystems.

While the EPA and local and federal politicians have vowed to have the Bay cleaned up by 2025, the CBAP has formed partnerships with bay scientists, award-winning journalists and authors, and other policymakers to ensure the cleanup target is met. Its detailed 25-step action plan specifies what needs to be done to clean up the Bay and protect its waters and ecosystems for future generations.

To learn more about the Chesapeake Bay Action Plan, view this link:

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