Chesapeake to poluted to swim in? - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 08-21-2010
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Chesapeake to poluted to swim in?

I saw that disturbing test with water from a clean toilet, a 4 hour feces laiden toilet, and samples of the Chesapeake. In some cases the water from the Chessie was far worse than the unflushed toilet! This is hideous! My Wife and I planned on taking Labor Day week to cruise around the bay, fish, and swim on what would be the first extended cruise (More than an overnighter) for us on our Macgregor. Now I'm considering loading up the truck and towing our Hobie to a campground on a clean lake somewhere. Is there any safe places in the mid to upper bay to swim and fish anymore?

Oysters are filters we need to stop harvesting them and let them catch up, heck I LOVE oysters, but from this fall on out it's only Chincoteagues for me.

Again this is very disturbing!
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Old 08-21-2010
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Clean Lake...?? Within driving distance of Baltimore, MD...where would that be...even some of the diving quarries and lakes still have pollution...

best of luck...
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Old 08-21-2010
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I'd suspect you encountered some kind of overly-simplified "test" conducted by some local media to create a story. It's just fearmongering. I've seen similar tests on the news that claim the water in a just-flushed subway station toilet is cleaner than the water a dentist uses to rinse your mouth out. It might be true in some weird sense, but it isn't the whole picture. Find out if the local authorities recommend/allow swimming and fishing, don't trust someone trying to scare you into watching their advertisements.
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Old 08-21-2010
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I have my concerns about water quality in the Chesapeake and other estuaries as well.
My own anecdotal evidence is that the water quality near shore is definitely suspect as the water is very turbid (lots of suspended particulates) which is consistent with most of the rivers feeding the Chessy from the western shore. Rivers tend to be turbid.
This last spring we crossed the mid-Chesapeake to St. Michaels using the spinnaker. We also trailed lines from the stern and swam in what seemed like very clear, salty water not far from Bloody Point Light.
In high summer there will be jelly fish of different varieties so you ought to be careful no matter where you choose to swim.
While I agree that you should be concerned about the water quality I think your concerns are a little overblown. There is some really 'fresh' ocean water out there in the middle of the bay and then there is river water and the two do mix.
My guess is that the southern Chessy region has saltier and better quality water as it gets flushed out more often. The mid Chessy is pretty good in the deeper channels and the upper Chessy has the Susquehanna River flowing into it which is a problem river.
The Rappahannock River is allegedly one of the cleanest rivers on the western shore, due to the lack of historical commercial uses in its drainage area. Apparently there are still a breeding population of Sturgeon in the James River.
The oysters were the blue crabs of yesteryear and were over fished until they found a way to market blue crabs, which became all the rage almost 100 years ago. Now the blue crabs are also over harvested. The 'bay' is under a lot of stress but I would not turn my back on it just yet or the folks that make a living from working the 'bay'.
300 years ago the Chessy was as clear as a bell all over and covered in Oysters, Mussels and other filter feeders. 300 years later it is just not quite the same place, but it is still a great place to sail. And so we do, and we swim and sometimes shower afterward.
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Old 08-22-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kd3pc View Post
Clean Lake...?? Within driving distance of Baltimore, MD...where would that be...even some of the diving quarries and lakes still have pollution...

best of luck...
I was thinking Raystown in Pa. or Lake Gaston on the Va./NC boarder. Even considered Lake Champlain way up north...Might trailer the Mac up there next year if our Abaco trip doesn't happen. We are not strangers to going long distances to have fun.

BUT I put the decision to the Admiral and she's fine with sailing the bay. So we'll be doing that. Now we are deciding north or south, the south would be clean and salty but have more jellies, the north of course would be less salty with less jellies but may be dirtier. No matter we'll be sailing the bay come Labor Day week.

BTW we went out yesterday and had a blast! After watching schools of bait fish on the surface we threw a line out and trolled a large spoon for a few hours. We were between Rock Hall and the main shipping channel when all the sudden the reel started singing, by the time I got the rod from the holder the line had run out and snapped. It was only a spinning rod with 15 year old line, so we're re-tooling. I'm going to dig out my boat rods and put new line on them.
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Old 08-22-2010
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The Chesapeake Bay Foundation | Save the Bay website has much information about the bay.
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Old 08-22-2010
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This has been done to death. For more information, you can read this discussion:
Swimming in the Bay?

Ultimately, the pollution isn't going to stop you from swimming on Labor Day weekend, the jellyfish (or nettles, if you prefer) definitely will. They are nearly thick enough to walk across the bay on right now, and they won't be gone by Labor Day. If anything, they'll be larger.
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Old 08-22-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by r.furborough View Post
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation | Save the Bay website has much information about the bay.
these are the same folks that just negotiated away a long term solution for the EPA to continue to drag their feet...and neither side has posted the settlement except to say "it is good for both sides"..

Will should have stood by his lawsuit...not settled out with another extension..their information has to be taken with their agenda in mind...if they, like the manatees, "solve" the problem, they will be out of a job.

I have sent will baker several emails, asked for an appointment and made several phone calls for a full disclosure of what was agreed to, as well as an explanation of how they could spend millions of dollars on their HQ building over the water......all donations, I am told...and heard nothing.
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Old 08-23-2010
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Until there is a storm, etc. that 'flushes-out' the Upper Chesapeake, I'd avoid swimming.
Two weeks ago I cleaned my hull and I got a severe total body viral-like major rash; just 'recovered' a few days ago but I still have the major-itches.
What is probably happening is that there is very little flow coming into the bay due to the drought, the water is very 'fresh' and VERY warm in the Upper Bay .... and its become VERY stagnant. The turbidity is so bad that even with a diving mask visibility is only 3-4 INCHES!!!!! Up-wellings bring up the most putrid diarrhea like water .... probably totally deoxygenated.

Im definitely not going overboard again until the bay 'flushes' out. There was an article in this months ChesBayMag (which I read as I lay in bed covered with hydrocortisone cream from head to toe) claiming that since the prevailing winds for the past few months have been primarily westerly the bay isnt turning-over like it does with the typical SouthWesterlies and the lack of turnover is turning the bay into a stratified SEWER. Im not surprised to hear about high bacteria counts ... always happens in stagnant water; and, the upper bay IMHO has become VERY stagnant. Id suggest to stay out of the water on the Upper Chesapeake until a good storm flushes it out, ........ unless you dont mind *severe* skin rashes.
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Old 08-23-2010
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I grew up in Harford County, Maryland near the Chesepeake Bay in the 80's. It was a well known fact even back then that aside from the Susquehanna River near Harve De Grace, Maryland that the Chesepeake Bay was something to stay out of unless you wanted a long term rash like Rich H. Aside from selling some "Bay License Plates" I have never seen any major effort on the state of Maryland to improve anything about the Chesepeake Bay. I can not imagine what it must be like now.
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