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Chesapeake Bay Gets D+, But Quality is Improving

Environmentalist group says the bay's health is still "dangerously out of balance."

Chesapeake Bay Gets D+, But Quality is Improving

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) again gave the bay low marks this year for pollution levels, but said some of the fruits of federal guidelines are beginning to show.

"While the Bay is still dangerously out of balance, I am cautiously optimistic for the future. The federal/state Clean Water Blueprint for the Chesapeake Bay is in place and beginning to work," said CBF President William C. Baker in a press release.

The CBF regularly evaluates 13 levels of the bay's health and grades them accordingly. This year, the Chesapeake Bay's overall score was 32 percent, which the CBF labeled a D+. That's up one point from the last State of the Bay report in 2010, and four points since the report in 2008.

"While hopeful, a Bay health index of 32 on a scale of 1 to 100 should be a sobering reminder that there is a great deal left to do," Baker said.

The largest decline in this year's evaluation was due to deterioration of underwater grasses. The largest increases were in dissolved oxygen and the number of crabs, which according to the report are at the highest winter population in more than a decade.

Here are this year's grades, along with a note on the change from the previous report:

NAMEGRADESCORECHANGENitrogen/phosphorous F/D 16/27 0/+4 Dissolved oxygen D 25 +6 Water clarity F 16 0 Toxics D 28 0 Forested buffers B 58 0 Wetlands C 42 0 Resource lands D 32 +1 Underwater grasses D 20 -2 Rockfish A 69 0 Oyster F 6 +1 Crabs B+ 55 +5 Shad F 9 0

The complete 2012 State of the Bay report can be downloaded from CBF's website for free.

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