July 2, 2011

Chesapeake Bay waters not so beach-worthy?

Just in time for the 4th of July, the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) published its annual report this week and the results are not pretty if you are planning on being on Virginia’s 48 coastal beaches any time soon. Looking at the number of beach closures due to yucky water in 2010, Virginia ranked 12th nationally. We exceeded the EPA’s water contamination standard 5 percent of the time. That’s an increase from 3 percent in 2009. So we are not trending in the right direction. Maryland ranked 16, violating recommended bacteria standards 7 percent of the time, also up from 3 percent in 2009. Can you say Chesapeake Bay?????

The beaches with the highest percent violation rates of bacteria standards in 2010 were Festival Beach in Mathews County (38%), Hilton Beach (32%) and King/Lincoln Park (28%) in Newport News, Fairview Beach in King George County (25%), Chick’s Beach (13%) and Lesner Bridge East (13%) in Virginia Beach, and Anderson’s Beach in Newport News (13%).

According to the report, Mathews County had the highest bacteria exceedance rate (38%) in 2010, followed by King George County (25%), Newport News (22%), Virginia Beach (3%), Hampton (2%), and Norfolk (1%). And I’m in a sailboat off a Mathews County beach as I write this. Yuck!

And yet, many of our legislators (both in DC and Richmond) are clamoring for the EPA to be neutered? How many of them get political contributions from the National Home Builders Association? I’ve always looked at farmers—at least the small independent farmer—as being patriots and a part of the American backbone. But the agri-business folks at the American Farm Bureau Federation are anything but patriotic as they fight pollution limits in the Bay.

OOPS, we forgot to display the stars and stripes on the stern as we rushed out on the Bay this morning. Excuse me as I go below and get our flag.