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Showing the Chesapeake Bay Some Love

COMMUNITY CENTERClean CommunitiesClean Water & WaterwaysJun 8, 2018Rebekah Eastep

Author: Rebekah Eastep

This week organizations across the Chesapeake Bay watershed have been celebrating Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week. And why not? The Chesapeake Bay is more than just a body of water. It defines our region, and country, in so many ways.

Did you know…

  • The bay has historical significance. The English colonists landed at Cape Henry and then sailed up the bay to the James River where they established the first permanent English settlement at Jamestown. John Smith would later explore and map 3,000 miles of the Chesapeake Bay.
  • The bay is a huge part of our economy. It employs nearly 34,000 people in the commercial seafood industry alone, serves as an international hub for shipping and is home to the world’s largest naval base.
  • The bay is a destination. Whether people are interested in fishing, water sports, birdwatching, boating or simply enjoying the coast, the bay is a huge draw for tourism.
  • The bay is famous for its blue crabs and oysters but also supports more than 3,000 other local and migratory species.

Volunteer with “Stevie” a fun selfie frame created from a TV found during a Keep Suffolk Beautiful clean-up.

Those are some pretty great reasons to show the Chesapeake Bay some love! With a watershed of about 64,000 square-miles, there are many challenges to keeping the bay healthy. Local governments in Hampton Roads are working hard to reduce the major sources of pollution in the bay (nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment) through implementation of TMDLs (total maximum daily loads). But there are other threats to the bay’s prosperity and one of those is litter.

Almost all litter found in the bay started out on land. Wind can carry litter away but often it is rain that washes litter into storm drains, ditches and stormwater ponds then out to local rivers. For 30 years, thousands of Virginians have joined together on the first Saturday of June to clean harmful litter and debris from land and water. Under the leadership of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, volunteers pull THOUSANDS of pounds of litter out of the environment in just THREE hours. In 2017, over 100,000 pounds of litter were removed! The statewide numbers are still being tallied for 2018, but locally we are happy to report that, in Hampton Roads alone, more than 2,200 volunteers gave their time to remove over 33,000 pounds of litter from our communities.

Locality # of Volunteers # of Sites Pounds of Litter
Hampton 153 11 3465
Norfolk 904 43 16384
Poquoson 46 1 250
Smithfield 103 1 1721
Suffolk 170 5 3200
Virginia Beach 895 25 8291
Total                      2,271              86                    33,311

*Not all localities have reported at time of publishing.

Waterway clean-up in Norfolk for Clean the Bay Day.

When you imagine what volunteers were picking up you may think of fast food wrappers and soda cans. Maybe cigarette butts and plastic bags. But participate in a clean-up yourself and you’ll quickly learn that all kinds of weird things end up as litter. During this most recent clean-up, Hampton Roads volunteers found tractor tires, crab pots, mannequins, appliances and even a baby raccoon living in litter. Sadly, there’s more to be done. Grab your neighbors, your coworkers or even your book club and organize a Team Up 2 Clean Up event in your community! There’s no better way to show your community, and the Chesapeake Bay, some love.