WASHINGTON – Eastern Shore watersheds rank among the healthiest in the nation while others around Maryland have some water quality problems, the government reported Thursday.
All 18 Maryland watersheds received either a “better water quality” ranking or a “less serious water quality problems” designation from the Environmental Protection Agency.
None of the state’s watersheds, which include streams, rivers, lakes, marshes and groundwater, fell into the lowest “more serious water quality problems” category.
On the Eastern Shore, eight out of the nine watersheds received the “better” ranking. Only 16 percent of the 2,111 watersheds studied nationally by EPA received that top ranking.
A watershed that includes the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and parts of Wicomico County was the only Eastern Shore watershed to receive a lower ranking.
In the rest of the state, eight of the nine watersheds from Western Maryland to the Chesapeake Bay received the “less serious problems” ranking.
A watershed that includes Gaithersburg and Rockville registered the “better” ranking.
Nationally, 36 percent of the watersheds carried the “less serious problems” designation.
The report is EPA’s first effort to organize national data and use it to determine the health of watersheds.
EPA also announced that citizens will be able to access information on their respective watersheds on the World Wide Web.
“Helping the American people understand what polluted runoff is doing to the water is the most important step right now,” said EPA Administrator Carol Browner. “We want to increase the level of awareness regarding pollution threats.”
The web site (www.epa.gov/surf/iwi) will contain information about the health of each watershed, which can be identified by typing in a city name, zip code or even the name of a school in the area.
Included with each watershed is information on the geography of the area, water use information and activities in the watershed regulated by EPA.
Browner said the information is included so communities can understand what factors affect their water quality.
“As we look to the future, we ask, what are the threats?” asked Browner. “What is the vulnerability?”
Watersheds are defined as bounded land areas where rain and snow runs into a particular water receptacle like a stream or lake. Many activities, such as pollution, that occur within a particular watershed affect the water quality.