Associated Press Published

Air Cleanup Boosts Chesapeake Water Quality

EarthEcho President Philippe Cousteau discusses the health of a trout fishing stream in Grant County W.Va. with Jenny Newland, Canaan Valley Institute executive director, for a documentary about the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Researchers with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science have found a surprising explanation for the improved water quality in the Chesapeake Bay: cleaner air.

Professor Keith Eshleman in the center’s Frostburg office said in a statement Tuesday that his team found nearly universal improvement in water quality since 1986 across the Upper Potomac River Basin. The area includes parts of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Eshleman says the improvement is mainly due to reduced levels of atmospheric nitrogen dioxides following implementation of the Clean Air Act in 1990. The law limited emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Eshleman says the reductions lowered the amount of excess nitrogen falling across the region and causing algae blooms in waterways.