The Chesapeake Bay Watershed is that vast area (64,000 sq. miles) within which all surface water drainage—ditches, creeks, streams, rivers, tributaries of all sorts—ultimately empty into the Chesapeake Bay. The watershed extends from Western New York State, though Pennsylvania, Maryland, the District of Columbia, parts of Delaware, West Virginia and central and northern Virginia. The human population of the watershed is approximately 18 million. Every one of these people contributes in some way to the flow of water into the streams and rivers, and to the Bay itself. This could be by taking a shower, flushing a toilet, watering a lawn, washing a car, paving a driveway, running a factory or irrigating crops.The condition of the water in the rivers and the Bay depends to a very large degree upon the actions of everybody. Find out conditions of your local watershed through a variety of tools collated here on this watershed tool. Click here to find out "Who's Protecting Your Water".
The Health of the Bay
With all of this drainage ending up in the Bay, the Bay is the recipient of whatever enters the system upstream. A rain storm in Pennsylvania, a sewer malfunction in DC, a huge new church parking lot in a Maryland town, or over-application of fertilizers on a Virginia farm can all affect what flows into the Bay. For many decades the water quality in the Bay has been deteriorating. Aquatic life—plants, fishes, oysters, crabs—have been suffering. Whole areas are “dead” in summer. Public and private agencies have advocated, educated and legislated changes designed to reverse the trend; however the Bay’s water is still unhealthy. With severe reductions in number of crabs and oysters, the livlihood of Chesapeake Bay watermen is threatened. In some places, the water is so contaminated that it is unsafe to swim.
God Still Calls It Good
The Genesis story of creation concludes with the assertion that God looked at what he had created and declared it to be "very good." It is still very good, very beautiful, life-giving and spirit-uplifting. We know that natural systems have great powers of regeneration and regrowth under the right conditions. Our stewardship responsibility calls us to work with all our energy and knowledge to create those conditions and to address the challenges.
For more detail on the current state of the Chesapeake, here are some good sources: