Would you eat a fish from this river?
It has been a rough month. First the eggs went bad all across the USA, and then we learned about the chickens too, all bad. That news is on top of old news: We had to give up red meat because it was killing us, and the planet. We gave up fresh water fish long ago because rivers and streams are polluted.
Now, here is a bright spot. Just as I was contemplating grabbing my fishing pole and heading to the Great Falls, I read this story that the river is getting cleaner.
“Potomac River now healthier than in '50s, study shows By David A. Fahrenthold
Tuesday, September 7, 2010; 2:15 PM
The Potomac River, once so polluted it was labeled a "national disgrace," is now the cleanest it has been in decades - its comeback signaled by the re-growth of large areas of underwater grasses, according to a new scientific study.
The study, announced Tuesday, details the Potomac's slow transformation into an environmental success story. The authors found that improvements at Washington's Blue Plains sewage plant had cut down on choking, unnatural algae blooms, and that - once the water became cleaner and clearer - native plants rebounded, helping to clean the river further.
Scientists examined the stretch of river in the 50 miles downstream from Washington's Chain Bridge. Since 1990, they found, the amount of one key pollutant in this area had dropped by half.
In the same time, the amount of grasses doubled, transforming the river bottom from a mud flat into a kind of underwater forest, more suitable for fish and blue crabs.
"These conditions are actually better than they were in the 1950s. The portion of the Potomac that we're talking about was completely devoid of vegetation in the 1950s," said Nancy Rybicki, a scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey and an author of the study.
She said the study signaled that millions spent to clean up the sewage plant had produced real results.
"We are seeing change in habitat" in the river, Rybicki said. "It's paying off."
This good news underlines a striking trend in recent environmental history. Some terribly polluted urban waterways have rebounded - one of the best examples is Boston Harbor - and the cause has usually been cleanups at sewage plants or factories.
It has proved much harder for authorities to reduce pollution that doesn't come from a pipe, like the manure and fertilizer that washes off of farm fields. Pollution from farms and city storm sewers - diffuse problems, and expensive to fix - have continued to trouble such water bodies as the Chesapeake Bay.”
Here is a story about catching stripers. I will have to beef up my tackle for that.
“Potomac Powerhouse: Catching River Stripers
When the summer winds down, many anglers put their fishing gear away. Those who know better head for the Potomac River's striper grounds.
By Mark Fike
In the 1970s, fishing for Potomac River striped bass (or rockfish, as they are locally known) was a big sport, both in terms of the number of anglers and the number of stripers it involved.
During the 1980s, however, anglers, commercial fishermen and fisheries biologists were alarmed as the number and size of rockfish plummeted on the Potomac River and in the Chesapeake Bay. Anglers began pointing fingers at the commercial fishermen, and commercial fishermen pointed their fingers at pollution and natural cycles as being the culprits. The truth of the matter is that there were a variety of factors in the decline in the striper fishery.
Luckily, the Potomac striper fishery is rebounding, thanks in part to protective measures such as creel limits and size limits, and today the fishery is back and very strong once again.”