Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC) staffers recently had the opportunity to spend a morning aboard the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s education vessel, Jenny S., pulling crab pots, trawling for fish, and learning more about local water quality improvement efforts. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) hosted two informative cruises for local government staff designed to provide decision makers a front-row seat to the beauty and benefits of our local waterways.
Ms. Danielle Spach hooks a crab
|Ms. Jill Sunderland, Ms. Katie Krueger,
and Ms. Ashley Gordon, are holding
CBF staff led the cruises along the Elizabeth and Warwick Rivers. Chris Moore, Virginia Senior Scientist, and Tanner Council, Hampton Roads Grassroots Manager, provided an overview of the impact of land use on our local water quality. In particular, they explained the effects of excess nutrients reaching waterways and the regional efforts underway to mitigate those impacts, including wastewater treatment improvements, stormwater practices, and better lawn care management. Yancey Powell, regional Environmental Education Program Manager, shared his fisheries expertise answering questions about oyster growth patterns, describing blue crab life cycles, and identifying the several species of fish that were caught. Jimmy Sollner, Senior Captain, expertly navigated the boat and shared his maritime experiences.
The Elizabeth River cruise began near Town Point Park and continued to the western branch. HRPDC planners, Sara Kidd, Katherine Rainone, and Danielle Spach, along with several colleagues from the Cities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach, enjoyed the trip. It was impressive to witness how well the River, including the oyster population, is recovering through restoration efforts. Viewing shoreline stabilization projects from the water makes it easy to see how they help to make the coastline more resistant to the impacts of severe storms.
The Warwick River cruise highlighted how pollution reduction measures are translating to improvements in the health of the River. Ashley Gordon, Katie Krueger, and Jill Sunderland, from the HRPDC Water Resources Department, joined colleagues from James City County and the Cities of Hampton and Virginia Beach on the cruise. The diversity of aquatic life, including Atlantic shrimp, various species of fish, blue crab, and oysters, is a solid indicator that the River is improving.
Regional stakeholders, including organizations like CBF, the local governments of Hampton Roads, the military, industries, etc., are making great strides towards meeting the requirements of the Chesapeake Bay “pollution diet”, also known as the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). Thank you to CBF for providing the opportunity to experience the local benefits of this work first-hand.