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CBF is starting a water watcher program.
Here's the flyer I received.



The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is asking boaters, anglers, and other users of the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers to become CBF Water Watchers. The CBF Water Watcher program is an educational, citizen-based project to report suspected water quality problems with an aim ultimately to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams. Improving water quality in the Bay through the reduction of nutrient pollution is the key to solving the oxygen problems in Virginia’s waters and is the highest priority of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Participation is easy. As you spend time on Virginia’s waters, boating, fishing, or enjoying the scenery, take note of any signs of algae blooms or fish kills. If you encounter a bloom or fish kill, please note the following:

• Date and Time of event
• Location of the event (i.e. GPS coordinates, local landmarks)
• Color of water
• Types of fish killed and abnormal physical features on the fish (if applicable)
• Any other information you feel important

You can report what you see by filling out an online survey at www.cbf.org/waterwatch.

Citizens are urged to exercise caution and to avoid contact with water and fish near a suspected algal bloom or fish kill.

If you have a camera, photographs are extremely useful in documenting the size, type and severity of the event. Please e-mail digital photos to [email protected] Digital files should not exceed 400 K and should be small in size for use on the web site.


The CBF Water Watcher Program will be conducting a series of educational and training sessions throughout the lower Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries from in May and June 2006. Training sessions will focus on teaching participants how to identify types of algal blooms and species of fish killed, and informing them of the reasons behind these occurrences and solutions to the water quality problems.

Educational sessions are free and open to anyone interested in Saving the Bay, but participation in the training sessions is not necessary to become a Water Watcher. For more information on the educational sessions, you can contact the CBF Water Watcher program at [email protected] or 757-622-1964.


We need your help to document where these events are occurring in Virginia!!


Although our rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay contain many naturally occurring algae, many of these waters have too much algae or an imbalance of algae species because of pollution. Algae blooms occur when excessive levels of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution spur algae to grow very quickly, creating unfavorable or deadly conditions for animals in the water. The effects of algae blooms are numerous, including blocking sunlight from reaching underwater plants, lowering oxygen levels in the water, and in some instances, releasing toxins that are dangerous to fish, shellfish, and sometimes humans.
Algae blooms may be green, brown, or reddish in color, and usually appear cloudy in the water.


Dead zones are areas of water where levels of dissolved oxygen are insufficient to support many of the Bay’s basic keystone species (i.e. rockfish, blue crabs, oysters). These oxygen-starved areas harm or kill fish, crabs, oysters, and many other organisms. In 2005, more than 40 percent of the Chesapeake Bay’s main stem experienced dangerously low dissolved oxygen levels. Pollution from sewage treatment plants and agricultural runoff are blamed for deteriorating water quality conditions and increases in dead zones in the Chesapeake Bay.


Fish kills have many different causes, but many are the result of a lack of oxygen in the water. Fish that die of oxygen deprivation are oftentimes found en masse on the water’s surface, commonly with open mouths and flared gills.
Fish are also susceptible to various skin and tissue infections that may be fatal; this too may be related to pollution. Fish that die of infection usually have open sores along their bodies or fins. In some cases the fish may appear emaciated (skinny).

Your eyewitness accounts can be a powerful tool to motivate public and legislative support for increased state and federal funding that will make a difference. We will use the information we gather in our fight to secure long-term funding for clean water initiatives in Virginia. So, if you're out on the water and see something that doesn't look right, take notes, take pictures, and go to www.cbf.org/waterwatch or email us at [email protected]
 
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