The Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint: A Model to Reduce Global Dead Zones?

Wednesday, July 15, 2020
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM



Dead zones are areas in the water that lack sufficient oxygen to support aquatic creatures. They are caused by high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus. These areas have expanded tenfold around the globe since the 1950s and are growing in size every year, with one outlier—the Chesapeake Bay. Despite an increasing population in the watershed, warming waters, and more intense rain events, the size of the Bay’s dead zone is trending downward.

Estuaries like the Chesapeake Bay,  Washington's Puget Sound, and the Midwest's Great Lakes are more susceptible to dead zones than the open seas.  However, even open waters like the Gulf of Mexico (which has a dead zone larger than the state of Massachusetts) are degrading. Nutrient-laden tributaries have contributed to growing dead zones around the world. They also have caused effects from the inconvenience of closed beaches to serious issues like the fouled drinking water supply in Toledo, Ohio.

Rich Batiuk, retired from the Chesapeake Bay Program, most recently as the Associate Director for Science, Analysis and Implementation, is our guest speaker.  He has visited many countries since his retirement and will share his experiences and insights into water quality issues and solutions around the globe. He will also discuss how the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint—a multi-state effort to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus entering the Chesapeake Bay—is affecting the dead zone in the Chesapeake Bay and restoring the health of this once incredibly productive estuary

If the Chesapeake Bay watershed meets its Blueprint cleanup goals by 2025, its success could serve as an example within the U.S. and around the world.

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