The Chesapeake Bay still is a treasured asset even after years of enduring the mistaken notion that dilution is the solution to pollution—as municipal sewage, factory wastes, agricultural and stormwater runoff poured "freely" into its waters.
"Freely" became costly as algal blooms sucked oxygen from its waters, and toxins fostered disease and death to its inhabitants. Oysters, fish, clams, and crabs—once in abundance and the pride of our Chesapeake—decimated. The loss in oyster production alone exceeds $4 billion. Bay watermen declined in numbers from 14,000 to 1,500 in less than 10 years, and the crabbing industry lost 4,500 jobs between 1998 and 2006.
Still, even after decades of Bay degradation and pollution, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Blue Ribbon Finance Panel in 2004 estimated the annual economic value of the Bay watershed—including tourism, agriculture, forestry and fisheries—to be in excess of one trillion dollars per yea...
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