Flowing across pavement-dominated urban and suburban landscapes and routed into highly engineered stormwater infrastructure systems, runoff might pick up any number of contaminants, including motor oil and lawn fertilizers. Agricultural areas can contribute excess nutrients and eroded sediments. Natural habitats — forests, wetlands, grasslands — act as a kind of collective filter for the watershed.
Municipalities across the Chesapeake Bay watershed and elsewhere have taken note, sparking efforts to restore local streams to a more natural-like state. While stream restorations are often popular with local communities due to their ability to stabilize banks, reduce erosion, and improve aesthetics, they have also become increasingly attractive as part of larger strategies to meet water quality standards. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) researchers are helping.
EPA ecologist Dr. Paul Mayer has been conducting some of the longest running studies of stream restoration to date, much of it within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. He and his partners are particularly interested in assessing and monitoring levels of key pollutants before and after restoration, including reactive nitrogen and phosphorous.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on July 26