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Water Quality Of Coastal Bays Declining

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The water quality in the coastal bays around Ocean City and Assateague Island are on the decline, according to an annual health report.

Environmentalists say the grade on the coastal bay's 2011 report card isn't a total catastrophe, but it shows that there is much work to be done to improve the entire ecosystem of the 175 square mile watershed.

Last year's C grade went down from a C-plus in 2010, mostly due to the intensely hot summer and heavy spring runoff that was punctuated by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

Sea grasses in the coastal bays were depleted by 35 percent to levels unseen since the early 1990s.

In addition, nitrogen levels in the groundwater continue to rise, most likely from fertilizers used in agriculture, which run into the bays, degrading the overall water quality.

There is some good news though: Blue crab populations are increasing, and some areas, such as the Isle of Wight and the Chincoteague Bay are showing signs of improvement.

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