Researchers Say Chesapeake Bay Dead Zone Surprisingly Large

Bad news for Chesapeake Bay crab and oyster lovers. This year's extremely wet spring and summer washed a lot more manure and fertilizers off farm fields into the Susquehanna River basin that leads into the Chesapeake Bay. This caused a large void of oxygen that makes poor living conditions for crabs, oysters and other bay wildlife. The Allegheny Front's Ilana Yergin has more.

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If you're one of the many whose Delaware shore beach vacations include meals of Chesapeake Bay crabs and oysters, well, there's bad news. This year's extremely wet spring and summer washed a lot more manure and other fertilizer ingredients off farm fields into the Susquehanna River basin. And THAT leads into the bay. The result? A big void of oxygen that makes poor living conditions for crabs, oysters and other bay wildlife. The Allegheny Front's Ilana Yergin reports.

YERGIN: This year's dead zone is on track to being the largest ever. It already covers one third of the bay. The watershed area that drains into the bay includes Pennsylvania and five other states as well as Washington D.C. In Pennsylvania, the Department of Environmental Protection continued to work this week on its federally-mandated bay restoration plan. Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency's Jeff Corbin said there are measures that average people in the watershed can take to give the bay a break.

CORBIN: The type of home you live in, the type of lawn you grow, the type of car your drive, all those things have impacts and if you change your way a little bit, it doesn't seem like a big deal, but 17 million little bits add up to a whole lot of pollution reduction.

YERGIN: Water coming from Pennsylvania through the Susquehanna River amounts to approximately half of the water flowing into the Chesapeake Bay. Corbin believes that nothing in any of the EPA's plans to minimize the dead zone is out of reach for states and residents. He says major improvements should be seen in the coming years.

For The Allegheny Front, I'm Ilana Yergin.