Pollution regulations help Chesapeake Bay seagrass rebound | Science News

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Pollution regulations help Chesapeake Bay seagrass rebound

The bay’s nitrogen concentrations have dropped 23 percent since 1984

3:00pm, March 5, 2018

LUSH LAWNS  Once dwindling seagrasses and other underwater plants in the Chesapeake Bay have rebounded in recent years, providing important habitat for animals such as this blue crab.

Underwater grasses are growing back in the Chesapeake Bay. The plants now carpet three times as much real estate as in 1984, thanks to more than 30 years of efforts to reduce nitrogen pollution. This environmental success story shows that regulations put in place to protect the bay’s health have made a difference, researchers report the week of March 5 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Rules limiting nutrient runoff from farms and wastewater treatment plants helped to decrease nitrogen concentrations in the bay by 23 percent since 1984. That decline in nitrogen has allowed the recovery of 17,000 hectares of grasses, the new study shows — enough to cover roughly 32,000 football fields.

“This is one of the best examples we have of linking long-term research data with management to show how important that is in restoring this critical habitat,” says Karen

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