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PA EPA RELEASES REPORT ON THE CONDITION OF THE MID-ATLANTIC ESTUARIES

Release Date: 12/04/98
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FOR RELEASE: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 4, 1998
EPA RELEASES REPORT ON THE CONDITION OF THE
MID-ATLANTIC ESTUARIES


EPA released a report combining scientific research on the Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Estuary and Delmarva (Delaware-Maryland-Virginia) coastal estuaries. Estuaries are bodies of water called transitional zones where salt water from the sea mixes with fresh water flowing off the land. These bodies of water provide habitats for a wide variety of birds, mammals, fish and other aquatic life. The report focuses on the current condition of the Mid-Atlantic estuaries, and how they have changed over the years and the reasons why. It also identifies specific geographic problem areas, and estimates the percentage of estuaries that are in good condition, moderate condition or degraded condition based on various measurements. A key issue across the Mid-Atlantic Region is the decline in shellfish, especially oysters. Oyster harvests are less than 1 percent of what they were 100 years ago. Other issues include water quality, sediment contamination, habitat change, fish contamination and other aquatic life affected by pollution. Although high nutrient levels are declining, they continue to be a problem in the Chesapeake Bay and contribute to low levels of oxygen in the water which can kill fish and other aquatic organisms. The Delaware Estuary has both high nutrient levels and areas of chemical contamination. The coastal bays appear to be the most healthy estuaries in the Mid-Atlantic but are threatened by increasing urban development. To receive more information and to obtain a copy of this report, “Condition of the Mid-Atlantic Estuaries,” contact EPA’s Community Based Assessment Team at 410-573-2749 (after January 1999, 410-305-2749) or visit EPA’s website at: www.epa.gov/emap/html/docs.html.


R-163 ###