When most people think about the Chesapeake Bay they might think of crabs and oysters, summer vacations or taking the kayak for a paddle in the many estuaries and streams that feed into the Bay (my favorite pastime).
While I’m not one to turn away a good crab feast, the Chesapeake Bay to me means life and opportunity; from the millions of jobs that depend on it, to the abundance of life the Bay supports both above and below the surface of the water. The opportunities that exist to enjoy its beauty are countless, but so are the opportunities for it to either prosper or flounder.
As residents of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, we can determine in what direction that needle points. It means getting to know the Chesapeake Bay at its roots, part of which start right here in Montgomery County.
Recognizing that water is fundamental to our region’s quality of life, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments have supported fellow jurisdictions to designate the second week of June (4th-12th) as Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week.
Montgomery County is participating in Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week by hosting several local events that the public can participate in. But this week is much more than that. It is about truly connecting ourselves to the roots of the Chesapeake Bay.
Montgomery County meets some of the strictest requirements for controlling stormwater pollution in the nation and implements innovative techniques and best practices to protect and sustain our watersheds. We are stewards of approximately 1,500 miles of streams that eventually feed into the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.
Montgomery County has been at the forefront of protecting our local water quality for decades. We have:
The citizens and businesses of Montgomery County have contributed to, and made significant investment, in protecting our local watershed and waterbodies.
After more than 5 years of working together, I can proudly say we have treated 1,774 impervious acres through an array of restoration techniques, including green infrastructure, such as green streets, and stream restoration. Without all of these diligent efforts and willingness to collaborate with partners, including sister agencies and jurisdictions, we would not be seeing the improvements to the Chesapeake Bay like we are today.
While we have achieved great things over the past 5 years, we are not done! Right now, the County has more than 2,500 impervious acres of restoration under construction or in design. Working with our community partners and businesses is the only way we can enhance these programs and address our environmental challenges to achieve success for our County, the region and the Chesapeake Bay.
We can and will continue to do this for decades more but what we need most of all is for every resident and business to connect to the roots of the bay.
Every time you decide not to use pesticides and fertilizers on your lawn; know that you are helping reduce chemicals in our waters and helping the Chesapeake Bay.
Every time you make the decision to take your reusable bag to the grocery store or not use Styrofoam — know you are keeping trash out of our streams and helping the Chesapeake Bay.
Every time you pick up after your pet, instead of leaving it on the ground — know that you are keeping harmful bacteria out of our waters and helping the Chesapeake Bay.
Every time you ride your bike rather than drive– know that YOU are improving local water quality and helping the Chesapeake Bay succeed.
The leadership and volunteer spirit of Montgomery County’s businesses and residents is astounding! This week is a time for us all to recognize our collective accomplishments, how far we’ve come and how much still needs to be done including the challenges we face.
The Chesapeake Bay is now seeing rebounding populations of certain fish and aquatic vegetation that is vital to the Bay’s ecosystem. Those populations started rebounding because of the decisions you and I make on a daily basis right here at home – the roots of the Bay.
I encourage you to celebrate the Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week with pride but by also keeping in mind that these successes do not occur overnight and are not limited to just one week. By working together, everyone living within the Chesapeake Bay can say, I helped bring the Bay back!
-Lisa Feldt, Director of the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection