Maryland Coastal Bays

Nutrient Levels Show Some Improvements 

Click here to view a map of Nutrient Trends.

While most stations in the southern Coastal Bays met seagrass chlorophyll threshold, many sites failed one or both nutrients. Recently analyzed trends indicate nutrients are exhibiting improving conditions but concentrations of ammonium may be on the rise.

The greatest concern for the bays’ health is eutrophication resulting from high nutrient loading, especially phosphorous. Ninety-nine percent of sites do not meet the seagrass phosphorus threshold. Stricter requirements limiting the amount of phosphorous that can be applied to fields were established in 2016 to address this problem. High soil phosphorus is typically found on farms that have used manure or poultry litter as a crop nutrient over many years. This practice will be limited under the new requirements, but it will take time for reductions to be seen in bay phosphorous concentrations.

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