Changing Planet

Reduce Pollution to Our Waterways: The Chesapeake Bay

Last December, EPA issued a science-based diet that—if achieved—would reduce pollution to our waterways. Just as progress is underway, powerful forces are working to derail the recovery effort. All of us who love the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams must make our voices heard.

The Scoop

The Chesapeake Bay watershed covers approximately 64,000 
square miles (164,000 km2) and comprises one of the most important
 estuaries in the North Atlantic. With rapid development along its 
shores destroying vast swaths of wetlands and buffering forest, and
 polluted with a steady increase in agrochemical runoff from the 1950s
 on, this once thriving estuarine ecosystem was headed toward collapse.

Will Harloff, age 10, of Copperstown, New York fishes at the origin of the Susquehanna River. Copperstown, New York, USA. © Neil Ever Osborne/ iLCP

A forty-year campaign by The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and other 
stakeholders has gradually turned the tide, with current political will
 at the point of tipping toward long-term restoration and protection of
 the Bay. The Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Act (H.R. 3852/S.
1816) was introduced to both chambers of the United States Congress 
last October, on its way to mark-up at the end of this year. These two 
bills seek to amend the Federal Clean Water Act (Section 117) to ensure 
that the six states of the Bay watershed, plus the District of
Columbia, develop and implement detailed plans to reduce pollution 
sufficiently to achieve Bay-wide pollution reduction targets for
 nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment by 2025.

Photographers from the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) embarked on a multi faceted expedition in partnership with Chesapeake Bay Foundation to document the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Check out the Chesapeake Bay Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition (RAVE) here.

The Bay Bridge connects the mainland of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed area to the land that leads to the coasts of the Eastern shores. Seen often with a sunny sky, and crowded beaches, this early morning saw almost no people, or cars between bridge and shore. Annapolis, MD. © Karine Aigner/ iLCP



Write your state representatives.

Tell them you care about clean water!

The mission of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) is to further environmental and cultural conservation through photography. iLCP is a Fellowship of more than 100 photographers from all around the globe. As a project based organization, iLCP coordinates Conservation Photography Expeditions to get world-renowned photographers in the field teamed with scientists, writers, videographers and conservation groups to gather visual assets that are used to create conservation communications campaigns to foment conservation successes. iLCP is a 501 (c) (3) organization. Support our work at this link.
  • Verna Harrison

    This is fantastic — both the photography and the graphics. thanks to all who worked on it.

    Now we need to use it.

  • Rachna

    The very best to it ! it caught the persons eye .

    withe the very elevating aspects that would arise from the movement .

    with warm Regards,
    Rachna Saxena

  • Kim Ethridge

    Thank you for sharing this information about iLCP’s RAVE and video! The photographers and iLCP really did an extraordinary job.

    However, your timeline is a bit off. The Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Act (H.R. 3852/S.
1816) was introduced in October of 2009. In December 2010, the bill was incorporated into a package of land and water bills for Congressional consideration. In the waning days of the lame duck session, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) tried unsuccessfully to push the legislation through the Senate but failed to get enough votes to overcome a filibuster.

    Meanwhile, EPA released its “pollution diet,” which outlines the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution each state in the Chesapeake Bay watershed may contribute to the Bay in order to significantly reduce pollution levels by 2025. The states are now working hard to determine, in detail, what steps they can take to meet their portion of the needed reductions.

    Unfortunately, efforts are currently underway both in Congress and by major agricultural lobbying groups to defend the status quo and forestall key Bay cleanup actions.

    The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is committed to supporting these Bay cleanup efforts. Find out more at

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