About 100 concerned local residents attended the 10th annual State of the Magothy meeting Wednesday at Anne Arundel Community College (AACC). The information presented by the guest speakers about the condition of the river was a mix of good and bad news.
In his opening remarks, Magothy River Association (MRA) President Paul Spadaro noted several positive ongoing activities by MRA volunteers such as beginning the restoration of Beachwood Park in the upper part of the river, the water quality monitoring program, oyster gardening and the dive program that monitors oyster beds.
The MRA also awarded its annual E. Gordon Wiley scholarship to AACC student Alyssa Fisher. For more than a year, Fisher has worked closely with Dick Carey of the MRA on his weekly water quality monitoring trips, collecting and analyzing phytoplankton samples, and recording the data from their work.
Unfortunately, the Magothy once again received a D- grade in terms of overall health—the same grade the river received in 2011. In his presentation, Dr. Peter Bergstrom of the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office stated that levels of dissolved oxygen, especially in the creeks, and submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) increased from less than two acres in 2010 to approximately seven acres in 2011. He added that these gains were offset by a decline in water clarity.
Bergstrom said there is hope that, due to lower levels of salinity in the river from last year’s heavy rainfall, we could possibly see more dark false mussels in 2012 that help filter the water and improve its clarity.
Dr. Sally Hornor, professor of biology at AACC, made the point during her presentation that water quality in the main stem of the river, as well as beach areas, can be negatively impacted by increased levels of bacteria after rainfall of a half-inch or more especially during summer months.
Hornor also clarified information concerning the incident last summer when a swimmer became ill by the microorganism vibrio.
Vibrio is a naturally occurring organism found in ocean water, which flows into the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries as water temperatures rise in the summer. Hornor recommended that anyone with any type of skin abrasion or compromised immune system avoid contact with water in the river.
While it is disheartening that the Magothy River once again received a D- grade for its overall health, the good news is that more people are becoming aware of the river’s problems and are taking steps to help improve its water quality. It will take time, effort, and money to reverse the damage that has been done to this wonderful resource we have in our area.
But to paraphrase the words of Spadaro, he would not continue to engage in trying to save the Magothy River if he thought the efforts of the MRA could not restore the health of the Magothy for future generations to enjoy.