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Chesapeake Bay Health Gets D+ For 2011

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Rainy conditions last year increased run-off, and consequently, pollution levels in the Chesapeake Bay.
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Rainy conditions last year increased run-off, and consequently, pollution levels in the Chesapeake Bay.

Heavy rains and a hot summer harmed the heath of the Chesapeake Bay last year. The University of Maryland's Center for Environmental Science gives a report card on the bay's health every year, and for 2011 it got an abysmal D+, down from C- last year.

The grade was the second-worst earned since grades were first handed out in 1986. The worst year was 2003.

Pollution and sediment poured into the bay from wastewater plants, urban storm sewers, and agricultural fields from Virginia to New York.  But that happens every year. The difference last year was a super wet spring that flushed a lot more of that stuff into the water. Then a hot dry summer cooked up algae blooms that feed on that pollution and lower oxygen levels.

Numerically, the Chesapeake Bay was given a score of 42 out of 100, down from 46 the year before. It was the first drop in four years. 

As for this year, it's not clear how the bay will do. It's certainly warmer, which affects wildlife, but it's also been dry so far, which means less bad stuff is washing into the bay.

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