Many of our Waterkeeper members publish a yearly water quality report detailing the health of waterways in their jurisdiction, often including the appearance of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), bacteria levels in the water, and even populations of animals commonly found in our waterways. Several 2019 report cards have been released this spring, with many showing similar findings that unusual levels of rainfall continue to impact our waterways. At the same time, these programs are now figuring out how to run their vital water quality monitoring programs under the safety guidelines due to the pandemic. These water quality monitoring programs provide an essential public health service and need to continue. This year, many have delayed the start of monitoring programs. It will be difficult for them to conduct their monitoring without the assistance of volunteer citizen scientists.
Your Anacostia Riverkeeper regularly posts water quality information for the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. You can follow the Water Reporter app for more information on the waterways in your area, and you can also download the Swim Guide app to explore recreational water quality. They took over 550 bacteria samples in 2019 alone, and sampled from 29 sites across DC and MD. Anacostia Riverkeeper also regularly updates their social media with water quality data, so be sure to follow their Facebook page for more information! Your Anacostia Riverkeeper is Trey Sherard. Reach out to the Anacostia Riverkeeper with any questions you may have regarding the health of the DC-area waterways!
Assateague Coastal Trust regularly monitors water quality and bacteria levels during the swim season. They post their results on Swim Reporter and list bacteria levels on their website. They also regularly update their social media with water quality information, so be sure to follow their Facebook page for more information! Your Assateague Coastkeeper is Kathy Phillips. Reach out to Assateague Coastal Trust if you have questions regarding water quality on the lower Eastern Shore!
Arundel Rivers Federation posts water quality information for the South, West and Rhode Rivers. They produce a combined Water Quality “Report Card” every year, detailing SAV found in the rivers, oyster health, bacteria levels and more. They cover the area surrounding Annapolis and southern Anne Arundel County. In 2019, historic levels of SAV were observed in the South and Rhode rivers, and all three rivers improved in bacteria, temperature and pH scores. Be sure to follow their social media, where they post regular water quality updates. Your South, West and Rhode Riverkeeper is Jesse Iliff. Reach out to Arundel Rivers Federation with any questions you might have regarding the health of the waterways in the Annapolis area and southern Anne Arundel county.
Blue Water Baltimore collects water quality data for 49 sites through the Patapsco River watershed. You can follow their reporting on the Baltimore Water Watch website, where they regularly post water quality updates. You can also view their 2019 report card here, which shows that heavier than average rainfall in the Baltimore area had significant impacts on water quality. Follow their Facebook page, where they regularly post about water quality and pollution levels in the Inner Harbor. Your Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper is Alice Volpitta. Reach out to Blue Water Baltimore with any questions you have regarding the health of the Baltimore-area waterways!
Your James Riverkeeper publishes an interactive “State of the James” report card every year, where you can click through and see the health of the waterways, animals that frequent those waterways, and even statistics on land protection. For 2019, they observed increased stream health, but heavy losses for both oyster and American shad. They also have the James River Watch, a water quality monitoring program that communicates river conditions to individuals across the James River basin. Be sure to follow their Facebook page, where they regularly post staff updates and new content. Your James Riverkeeper is Jamie Brunkow. Reach out to James River Association with any questions you may have about the health of the river and the communities that surround it.
Potomac Riverkeeper Network produces water quality reports as part of their “Swimmable Potomac” campaign. They have a volunteer program in progress to report updated water quality data, and even have citizen science opportunities available. In 2019 they observed that higher than average rainfall triggered combined sewer overflows and stormwater pollution. Be sure to keep an eye on their Facebook page for messages from their Riverkeepers, and information on when it’s safe to swim! Mark Frondorf is your Shenandoah Riverkeeper, Brent Walls is your Upper Potomac Riverkeeper, and Dean Naujoks is your Potomac Riverkeeper. Reach out to the Potomac Riverkeeper Network with any questions you may have about the health of the rivers!
ShoreRivers reports on water quality data for several rivers on the Maryland Eastern Shore. They produce a combined yearly report card, including water quality data from the Chester, Choptank, Sassafras, Miles and Wye Rivers, and Eastern Bay. They include information about SAV growing in the rivers, and report on yearly bacteria levels in the water. In 2019 they reported that unusual levels of rainfall caused an increase of nutrient pollution in the rivers, but also observations of increased SAV in some areas. Follow their Facebook page for frequent updates from their staff and upcoming opportunities on the Eastern Shore.
The Chesapeake Bay is slowly improving, but it still has a long way to go! Visit the overall Chesapeake Bay report card to see what improvements must be made to improve all of our local waterways. You can also view our Water Quality Monitoring page for updates on our Waterkeepers.
Please reach out to your local Waterkeeper for more information on the water quality in your area. And while you are out enjoying your favorite waterway, use The Water Reporter app to send pollution reports to your Waterkeeper.