'SevernStat' shows dead zone in river
By PAMELA WOOD, Staff Writer
Taking a cue from the governor's "BayStat" program to track the health
of the Chesapeake, the Severn Riverkeeper Program is unveiling "SevernStat."
According to the report, much of the Severn River is deprived of oxygen
in the summer months, threatening aquatic life such as fish, crabs and
Severn Riverkeeper Fred Kelly said he hopes the report will spur action
from the county and state government.
"If you don't put money and resources into the Severn River, it's going
to die," he said.
Throughout the summer of 2006, volunteers and workers with the riverkeeper
program regularly sampled water from 18 locations on the river, which
begins in Millersville, flows southeast and spills out into the Chesapeake
Bay near the Naval Academy and downtown Annapolis.
The monitoring showed severe oxygen depravation at the bottom of the
river, though oxygen levels usually were acceptable near the surface.
The lack of oxygen - a phenomenon known as the "dead zone" - is well
researched in the main stem of the Chesapeake Bay, but less so in the
"Everyone knew there were dead zones in the Chesapeake. No one knew the
same thing was happening in the tributaries," said Allison Albert, an
intern who did much of the monitoring for the riverkeeper program.
Dead zones are caused when too much nutrient pollution flowing into the
water fuels the growth of algae blooms. When the algae dies, it sucks
the life-sustaining oxygen in the water.
Mr. Kelly said the only way to reverse the pollution and dead zones is
to invest money in fixing what has gone wrong in the watershed that drains
into the river.
Mr. Kelly is a champion of a proposal to add a fee of roughly $60 a year
to county property owners to pay for new stormwater controls. The idea
has failed to gain much political traction, however, and has never been
introduced before the County Council.
In the SevernStat report, Mr. Kelly calls for the state to match any
money raised if the county adopts a stormwater fee. And the report also
asks the state to cut down its approval of riprap and bulkhead shoreline
projects, and instead adopt a policy to require natural, "living" shorelines
"The Severn Riverkeeper's position is the Severn River is dying and we
need $500 million to $750 million to retrofit the whole community," he
Mr. Kelly delivered his report to Gov. Martin O'Malley's office on Thursday.
Published March 11, 2007, The
Capital, Annapolis, Md.