The smells of spring are quick to follow the start of March, which has our minds thinking about oysters and water quality monitoring. The launch of the new Chesapeake 10 Billion Oyster Partnership has us thinking about the Marylander’s Grow Oysters (MGO) program and all of our efforts to restore the Chesapeake’s famous bivalve. We’re also taking our water quality monitoring data to the next level with our RiverWatch platform, which allows the public to see near real-time grades for our sampling stations as we collect data throughout the sampling season. Read more about these two efforts in this month’s Choptank Newsletter.
-Matt Pluta, Choptank Riverkeeper
In this edition of the Choptank River News:
ShoreRivers Joins the Chesapeake 10 Billion Oyster Partnership
Think of what an additional 10 billion oysters in the Chesapeake Bay would do for water clarity and the overall health of our waterways. We know that oysters are crucial to a healthy Bay and a strong economy, especially in the Choptank River, but the current population is only a tiny fraction of its historic size. ShoreRivers joins a growing number of over 30 partners across all sectors of the bay to embark on a goal to plant 10 billion more oysters by 2025.
This partnership is a way to bring together efforts from aquaculturists, commercial fisherman, and restoration groups to focus on what really matters – putting more oysters in the water. There have always been opinions about planting oysters in sanctuaries versus planting them on commercial harvest bars, but what this partnership will do is work to make sure that oysters are being planted everywhere, and that those plantings are sustainable by using science-based management practices. This approach helps to ensure that the economy, the environment, and water quality all benefit.
ShoreRivers has a long history of supporting the planting of more oysters in our rivers: we manage the MGO program on the Choptank, Miles, Wye and Chester Rivers which results in the planting of thousands of oyster spat; we advocate for the continued efforts to restore and maintain the oyster sanctuaries in Harris Creek, the Tred Avon River, and the Little Choptank; and we even work with school students to build oyster cages and learn about the oyster biology so one day they can grow up and become oyster experts and help to continue to protect our Bay.
This is just the beginning. Learn more about the #10BillionOyster Partnership here and find out how you can be a part of this effort: http://www.tenbillionoysters.org/
Improving Transparency of our Water Quality Data - RiverWatch is LIVE!
Behind the scenes our scientists and Riverkeeper have been working to make our water quality data more accessible to our communities, volunteers, partners, and decision makers. Our new merged organization has over 200 water quality monitoring sites throughout the Choptank, Miles, Wye, Chester and Sassafras rivers. The data we collect and analyze is vital to the community – it drives the work that we do and where we focus our restoration efforts; it helps scientists monitor large-scale oyster restoration projects; it supports our policy advocacy; and it’s used to protect sensitive waterways and habitats from development. We want this resource to be readily available to our community.
Working with Chesapeake Commons, a software developing company with an environmental mind-set, we were able to take water quality data that we use to generate our report cards, and make it available online in an interactive platform for users to view. Visit https://www.shorerivers.org/riverwatch to see our new RiverWatch interface.
Monitoring sites are indicated with a symbol. A gray symbol indicates those sites where we only sample the water for physical parameters, such as temperature, salinity, pH, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity. A color-coded symbol indicates sites where we also collect nutrient samples, and the color for the nutrient sites indicates the grade for that site. Once a site is selected you’ll be able to view results for all the parameters that we collected. We encourage all of our volunteers, members and partners to use this tool as a way to monitor our water quality throughout the sampling season. As soon as we get underway with our 2018 sampling season in May, we’ll be updating the website monthly to display the most recent samples that were collected.