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June 18, 2024

June Riverkeeper Report

The third month of the 2024 tidal monitoring season was an exciting one as we began our submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) restoration program! We harvested horned pondweed, a native underwater grass, in collaboration with the MD Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and ShoreRivers on the Eastern Shore this June. We processed the harvested grass at our newly built turbulator over the following two weeks – producing over 1.5 million horned pondweed seeds that will be replanted in the South, West, and Rhode Rivers this coming Fall and Spring.┬áThis is the first of at least 3 SAV species that we will process in partnership with Anne Arundel Community College Environmental Center and DNR over the summer, funded by a Chesapeake Bay Trust Outreach and Restoration grant. These are the first steps of our effort to restore native grass beds in our watershed!
Looking at our tidal monitoring data, temperatures have ranged from 73 degrees to 82 degrees in our smaller creeks. We expect to see that number continue to rise given the heat wave we are experiencing this week. The unusually warm spring we have had has caused our waterways to warm up sooner than usual, resulting in SAV blooming earlier than we’ve seen in previous years. For comparison, our upstream site on the South River was 5 degrees warmer than this time last year. We saw a number of tributaries with very low bottom oxygen levels, including Crab Creek, Aberdeen Creek, and Glebe Creek on the South River. We have yet to see any significantly low readings on the West or Rhode. The best clarity readings of the month was in Crab Creek (3ft!). Our worst clarity readings of the month were in Lerch and Smith Creek on the West, with less than 1ft of clarity.
Don’t forget, our bacteria testing season is also underway. We test 28 sites weekly for enterococcus, an indicator for fecal bacteria in our waters. We always recommend the golden rules of swimming- don not swim after a major rain event (when bacteria levels are at their highest), be wary of swimming with open cuts or wounds, and always shower after swimming! We post the bacteria test results each Friday afternoon on our website, social media, and swimguide.com.
Our SAV restoration efforts continue and we will be harvesting our second SAV species next month – sago pondweed from the Severn River. Stay tuned for a seed count update in the next newsletter!