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Specialists Monitor Water Quality During And After Sandy

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Waters were murky in the D.C. area, from the boardwalk in Georgetown, shown here, to the watershed in Maryland.
Armando Trull
Waters were murky in the D.C. area, from the boardwalk in Georgetown, shown here, to the watershed in Maryland.

Teams of water quality specialists braved the stinging rain and wind of Sandy to monitor the region's water quality.

While most people were tucked away inside, Bruce Michael's teams were out and about collecting water samples.

"The water is chocolate-colored, it's very brown, there's a lot of sediment and material in itm" says Michael. "We call it 'chunky.'"

Michael is with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. He says 80 percent of the pollution that washes into the bay — Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and sediment — occurs during big storms.

"It's important to chase these storms, so we can measure these loads of nutrients and sediment coming into the bay," he says. "We had people out on the Eastern Shore; some of them actually got trapped on the Eastern Shore."

State and local governments in our region are spending billions of dollars trying to reduce this kind of water pollution, which is why Michael says it's especially important to know whether these efforts are working.

"The concentrations and loads are actually going down throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed over 25 years worth of data," he says. "We still have a long way to go."

Rivers like the Potomac and Susquehanna still haven't crested, so water monitoring teams will be working through Wednesday and even into Thursday.

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