NCCOS Research Highlights Water Quality Management Challenges in Chesapeake Bay
National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science scientists, in collaboration with partners at USDA, USGS and the University of Maryland, recently published findings characterizing water quality in the Choptank River estuary, an important tributary of Chesapeake Bay. This work provides a baseline against which to compare future changes in water quality and may be used to design future monitoring programs needed to assess restoration strategy effectiveness. Results indicate that agriculture is a primary source of nitrate in the estuary and that both agriculture and wastewater treatment plants are important sources of phosphorus. Concentrations of copper in the lower estuary consistently exceeded water quality criteria, possibly due to use of copper in antifouling boat paint. Observed concentrations of herbicide residues did not approach established levels of concern for aquatic organisms. Results of this study highlight the importance of continued implementation of best management practices to improve water quality in the estuary.