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Chesapeake Bay Report Issues Dismal Bill of Health

By David A. Fahrenthold
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 29, 2004; 12:42 PM

The health of the Chesapeake Bay remains dismal, with key indicators like dissolved oxygen, water clarity and oyster populations still far below acceptable levels, according to a State of the Bay report released today.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which compiles the report, rated the bay's health at 27 out of 100, with 100 representing the situation before European settlers arrived. That score is the same as in 2003, and slightly higher than the lowest-ever rating, that of 23 in 1983.

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Chesapeake Bay Foundation's State of the Bay Report
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Bay foundation president William C. Baker said there were some causes for optimism: Phosphorus pollution and shad populations improved slightly in 2003. But he said the bay was still far more polluted than environmentalists want.

"A health index of 27 represents a bay that is suffocating," Baker said.

Baker used the announcement of the report to criticize local elected officials, saying that only Maryland -- which passed the so-called "flush tax" to improve sewage pollution -- was on the right track. He read the names of local governors and D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams to emphasize that they needed to act more quickly.

"Not saving the Chesapeake Bay would represent nothing less than a colossal failure of our elected officials," Baker said.

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