At the start of July, Gov. Martin O’Malley applauded the Watershed Implementation Plan and declared that Maryland met two-year milestones in restoring the Chesapeake Bay.
But following the announcement, South River Riverkeeper Diana Muller showed hesitance to celebrate alongside the governor due to what she called “internal problems.”
Many may assume that as the Chesapeake Bay improves, it will naturally benefit its tributaries, but it’s an assumption that’s far from the truth, Muller said.
During their analysis of the South River, Muller, her husband and Naval Academy professor Andrew Muller and intern David Nematollahi gathered evidence that the South River actually gets worse the further it is from the Chesapeake Bay.
In fact, the bay’s “dead zone” has a dissolved oxygen level of .3 milligrams per liter (mpl), but the South River’s levels are even lower—hitting the .2 mpl range, resulting in completely anoxic waters. As the scientists moved up river away from the bay, the color change was significantly noticeable, Andrew Muller said.
Upstream, Andrew Muller called the South River “a primordial soup—hot, nutrient enriched water.” He added that “low dissolved oxygen spreads like a disease throughout the area.”
The Riverkeeper added that the South River’s goals and numbers are unique from the bay’s, and to address them, each health gauge must be looked at exclusively.
For example, the local river’s “healthy underwater grasses” goal is 455 acres. Currently, the South River only has 8 acres.