Poor grades dominated the 2011 West and Rhode Rivers Report Card, presented by the West/Rhode Riverkeeper on Saturday at Discovery Village in Shady Side.
Riverkeeper Chris Trumbauer gave the rivers a D grade after gathering data from various research organizations.
“A wet spring and hot summer combined to keep [the grades] low. While this is not good news, we don’t want to get too discouraged about one particularly bad year," Trumbauer wrote in the annual report card.
Last year, the rivers received mostly C- grades on the report card for 2010.
"What is discouraging is that extreme weather potentially may be more common, with years like 2011 becoming the new ‘normal,’” Trumbauer wrote in the report card.
The rivers were graded on six categories: water clarity, dissolved oxygen, nutrients, chlorophyll (algae) and underwater grasses. The rivers’ only positive score of the report came in the dissolved oxygen category, where it received a B. Last year, the rivers received an A in this category.
“We worked hard to make sure it is both scientifically credible and easy to understand,” Trumbauer said.
He expressed hope in the form of solutions to address the rivers’ problem areas. Specifically, Trumbauer said implementing a “pollution diet” is the best way to raise the rivers’ grades.
“We have identified the problems our rivers face and we have strategies to overcome them,” Trumbauer said in a release. “We must insist that policies are put in place to allow these strategies to work.”
About 24 people attended the report card release Saturday and participated in a rain barrel workshop. Joe Ports, a member of the Chesapeake Conservation Corps, led the workshop and taught residents the benefits of controlling stormwater runoff coming from rooftops.
Trumbauer and several other river-advocacy groups support clean water legislation as part of the Clean Water, Healthy Families coalition. The Maryland General Assembly comes to a close at midnight Tuesday morning.