Image of flooding on Maple Dam Road in Dorchester County, Maryland
Updated: July 6, 2021
By Jennifer Dindinger

What is Threatening the Bay?

Nitrogen. Phosphorus. Sediment. These are the major factors responsible for the decline of water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, and main focus for current efforts to restore the Bay.

Nitrogen and Phosphorus are essential to the growth of living organisms in the Bay, however, too much nitrogen and phosphorus stimulate a cycle of algae blooms leading to dangerously low oxygen levels that in turn, accelerates marine animal and plant death and threatens the delicate ecosystem.

Sediment is soil that washes into the Bay with runoff and shoreline erosion. Excess sediment particles in the Bay block the sunlight required for plants to grow and smother oyster beds. Phosphorus is carried along with sediment particles.

In our daily routines, we continue to add nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment and other inputs to the Bay. Lawn and crop fertilization, animal waste disposal, poorly maintained septic systems, soil disturbance, and tail pipe emissions, all contribute to the growing pollution in our Bay, making it impossible for the Bay to use effectively its own defense systems to maintain its health.

Who is Responsible?

Every one of us. Each man, woman and child can make a difference. First, we must understand what impact our actions have. Second, we must take responsibility for changing our activities which contribute to the degradation of the Bay. EACH OF US CAN TAKE ACTION.

What Can You Do?

From My Backyard to Our Bay offers solutions for living in harmony with the Bay. It describes the basic mechanics of how we pollute, and provides specific directions to reduce the nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment and other inputs that flow into the Bay.

This guide was originally produced by University of Maryland Extension-Talbot County Bay-Wise program in partnership with Agencies of the Talbot County Government, Talbot County Soil Conservation District, Maryland Department of Natural Resources Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund, the Choptank Trib Team, Environmental Concern Inc., Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, Midshore Recycling, Hill’s Drug Store, and Sylvan Green Earth Consulting. It was modified and adapted for Dorchester County by the UME-Dorchester Master Gardener Program, Dorchester Citizens for Planned Growth, University of Maryland Sea Grant Extension, and League of Women Voters of the Mid-Shore of Maryland. Funding was provided by University of Maryland Sea Grant Extension Program.

Access the full guide From My Backyard to Our Bay