A River Runs Through It

Let’s be honest, how many of us would have moved to Ocean Pines were it not for its waterways?? The Isle of Wight Bay and the St. Martin River feed our canals and provide all of us with endless water-related enjoyment. Wait – did I say “endless”? Not quite so. The recently released Coastal Bays Report Card for 2011 reveals that the health of our coastal bays remains tenuous at best. The Isle of Wight received a score of C while the St. Martin River graded out at D+. Neither of these scores improved over 2010 and the St. Martin retained the lowest score of all the coastal bays’ regions.

Water quality is impacted by weather incidents such as high-spring runoff, summer droughts and tropical storms. However, what we put on top of the ground and directly into our waterways can have a greater effect over a longer period of time. Farmers using fertilizers containing nitrogen are typically blamed for polluting waterways but all of us who aspire to green lawns and perfect gardens and golf courses can be similarly at fault.

So, what can we do as individuals to ensure that we are not contributing to the demise of the waterways we depend on sustain our quality of life in Ocean Pines? Think “less is more.” Water your lawn only once a week early in the morning. Mow your grass only as short as 3 inches and leave your clippings to fertilize. If you must use a man-made fertilizer, choose one that has at least ¼ of its nitrogen in a slow release, water insoluble form and do not apply it within 50 feet of a water body. If you must use pesticides and herbicides, use them sparingly and not near the water. If you live on a canal or the open water you can take additional steps to improve water quality. Direct rainwater towards a vegetated area; check your crab pots frequently to keep captured wildlife from dying; and never throw yard waste into a canal or waterway. If you would like more information on the Coastal Bays Report Card for 2011 and what you can do to protect our waterways, check the Maryland Coastal Bays website: www.mdcoastalbays.org. Once you are there, if you click on News and Releases and then Publications, you will find a wealth of information.

Remember – If you are lucky enough to live near the water, you are lucky enough!

Barb Coughlan
Environment & Natural Assets Advisory Committee

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