Monday, July 18, 2022

Episode 632 (7-18-22): Checking on the Chesapeake’s Condition

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (5:30).

Sections below are the following:
Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.).

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 7-15-22.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the weeks of July 18 and July 25, 2022.

SOUNDS – ~6 sec

Those sounds of shorebirds and Chesapeake Bay waves open an episode on the condition of that bay, which we last explored in an August 2020 episode.  We set the stage with the instrumental opening of a song whose title calls to mind some colors of the Chesapeake region’s waters, lands, sky, and creatures.  Here’s about 30 seconds of “The Deep Blue Green,” by Andrew VanNorstrand.

MUSIC – ~31 sec – instrumental

In June 2022, the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science issued its latest annual Chesapeake Bay and Watershed Report Card, for conditions in 2021.  For the report’s first part, to assess Bay waters, the report compares the status of several physical, chemical, and biological indicators to established goals, in order to generate condition scores ranging from zero to 100%.  Combining the indicator scores, the overall score for 2021 was 50, an increase from the 45 score for 2020 data; the report characterized the 50 score as “moderate health” and gave it a letter grade of C.  The score when the Report Card started in 1986 was 48; the highest score since then was 55 in 2002, and the lowest was 36 in 2003.

For the report’s second part, the overall watershed assessment, the report for 2021 looked at three categories of indicators: ecological, societal, and economic.  These resulted in a score of 56, characterized as “moderate health” and given a letter grade of C+.  This was the first year that three categories of indicators were used for the watershed assessment, so the results aren’t directly comparable to previous years.

Besides the Maryland center’s annual report, several other Bay condition reports are regularly available.  These include the Chesapeake Bay Program’s annual “Bay Barometer” report; the Bay Program’s “Chesapeake Progress” Web site, with updates on progress toward the goals of the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Agreement; the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s biennial “State of the Bay” report; and reports by various groups on specific Bay areas, such as the James River Association’s “State of the James” reports.  All depend on data gathered by various sources, including universities; governmental agencies at the federal, state, and local levels; and non-governmental organizations.

The Chesapeake Bay is the United States’ largest estuary.  Monitoring its condition is a large part of decades-old efforts to improve and sustain this irreplaceable water body.

Thanks to Andrew VanNorstrand for permission to use “The Deep Blue Green.”  We close with about 50 seconds of another musical selection, created for our previous episode on Chesapeake Bay conditions.  Here’s “Chesapeake Bay Ballad,” by Torrin Hallett, a graduate student at the Yale School of Music.

MUSIC – ~51 sec – instrumental


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close this episode.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


The waves sound was recorded by Virginia Water Radio at the Chesapeake Bay on Kent Island, Maryland, June 22, 2010.

The shorebirds sound was taken from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife National Digital Library,; the specific audio file was “Shore birds close,” online at

“The Deep Blue Green,” from the 2019 album “That We Could Find a Way to Be,” is copyright by Andrew VanNorstrand, used with permission.  More information about Andrew VanNorstrand is available online at  This music was used previously by Virginia Water Radio most recently in Episode 504, 12-23-19.

“Chesapeake Bay Ballad” is copyright 2020 by Torrin Hallett, used with permission.  Torrin is a 2018 graduate of Oberlin College and Conservatory in Oberlin, Ohio; a 2020 graduate in Horn Performance from Manhattan School of Music in New York; and a 2021 graduate of the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver.  He is currently a graduate student at the Yale School of Music.  More information about Torrin is available online at  Thanks very much to Torrin for composing the piece especially for Virginia Water Radio.  This music was used previously by Virginia Water Radio most recently in Episode 604, 11-22-21.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (1 min./11 sec.) of the “Cripple Creek” arrangement/performance by Stewart Scales that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Scales and the group New Standard, with which Mr. Scales plays, is available online at


(Unless otherwise noted, photographs are by Virginia Water Radio.)

View of the Chesapeake Bay looking downstream from the Bay Bridge-Tunnel (between Virginia Beach and Northampton County), October 7, 2007.

View of the Chesapeake Bay looking upstream from Sandy Point State Park in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, March 21, 2010.

Summary charts for Chesapeake Bay waters (upper) and watershed (lower) from the “Chesapeake Bay & Watershed 2021 Report Card” (covering data through 2021; published in June 2022), University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.  Images accessed from the report PDF, online at, as of 7-18-22.


Used for Audio

Chesapeake Bay Foundation, “State of the Bay,” online at

Chesapeake Bay Program, online at  Specific pages used were the following:
“Slight improvements in Bay health and new economic data added in 2021 Chesapeake Bay Report Card
,” June 7, 2022, news release by Caroline Grass;
“Bay Barometer,” April 2021 (for 2019-20 data), online (as a PDF) at;
“Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement” (signed June 16, 2014), online at;
“Chesapeake Progress,” online at;
“The Estuary,” online at

Jeremy Cox and Timothy Wheeler, “Maryland, Virginia clamp down on crab harvests; cuts imposed as crab population hits record-low,” Bay Journal, June 30, 2022.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources, “2022 Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey,” online at

Maryland Department of Natural Resources, “Eyes on the Bay,” online at
See for “Data Available for Viewing” (dissolved oxygen, pH, salinity, turbidity, algal blooms, and temperature).
See for links to other Bay water-quality data and information sources.

University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, online at
The “Chesapeake Bay & Watershed Report Card” is online at; note links for “Bay Health,” “Watershed Health,” and “Indicators.”
A June 6, 2022, news release on the report of 2021 data is online
A PDF of the report of 2021 data is online at

Virginia Institute of Marine Science, “How big is the [Chesapeake] bay?”  Online at

For More Information about the Chesapeake Bay and its Condition

Chesapeake Bay Program, “Discover the Chesapeake,” online at

Alice Jane Lippson and Robert L. Lippson, Life in the Chesapeake Bay, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Md., 2006.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, “Chesapeake Bay Map,” online at

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, “Chesapeake Bay,” online at

Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS):
“Bay Info,” online at;
“SAV Program: Monitoring and Restoration,” online at;
“Virginia Coastal and Estuarine Observing System,” online at

Virginia Marine Resources Commission, online at


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (  See particularly the “Rivers, Streams, and Other Surface Water” subject category.  The previous episode on Chesapeake Bay conditions was Episode 537, 8-10-20,

Following are links to some other episodes on the Chesapeake Bay.
Bay Barometer and other reports – Episode 305, 2-29-16.
Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), Phase II Watershed Implementation Plan – Episode 115, 6-18-12.
Bay TMDL, Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan – Episode 475, 6-3-19.
Chesapeake Bay Commission – Episode 496, 10-28-19.
Estuaries introduction – Episode 326, 7-25-16.
Oysters and nitrogen (Part 1) – Episode 279, 8-24-15.
Oysters and nitrogen (Part 2) – Episode 280, 9-7-15.
“Smart” buoys – Episode 538, 8-17-20.
Submerged aquatic vegetation (“Bay grasses”) – Episode 325, 7-18-16.
Winter birds of the Chesapeake Bay area – EP565 – 2/22/21.

Following are other music pieces composed by Torrin Hallett for Virginia Water Radio, with episodes featuring the music.
“A Little Fright Music” – used in Episode 548, 10-26-20, on water-related passages in fiction and non-fiction, for Halloween; and Episode 601, 10-31-21, connections among Halloween, water, and the human body.
“Beetle Ballet” – used in Episode 525, 5-18-20, on aquatic beetles.
“Corona Cue” – used in Episode 517, 3-23-20, on the coronavirus pandemic.
“Flow Stopper” – used in Episode 599, 10-18-21, on “Imagine a Day Without Water.”
“Geese Piece” – used most recently in 615, 2-7-22, on Brant.
“Ice Dance” – “Ice Dance” – used most recently in Episode 606, 12-6-21, on freezing of water.
“Lizard Lied” – used in Episode 514, 3-2-20, on lizards.
“New Year’s Water” – used most recently in Episode 610, 1-3-22, on water thermodynamics and a New Year’s Day New River wade-in.
“Rain Refrain” – used most recently in Episode 559, 1-11-21, on record rainfall in 2020.
“Runoff” – in Episode 585, 7-12-21 – on middle schoolers calling out stormwater-related water words.
“Spider Strike” – used in Episode 523, 5-4-20, on fishing spiders.
“Tropical Tantrum” – used most recently in Episode 580, 6-7-21, on the 2021 Atlantic tropical storm season preview.
“Tundra Swan Song
– used in Episode 554, 12-7-20, on Tundra Swans.
“Turkey Tune” – used in Episode 343, 11-21-16, on the Wild Turkey.
“Wade in the Water” (arrangement) – used most recently in Episode 616, 2-14-22. 


Following are some Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that may be supported by this episode’s audio/transcript, sources, or other information included in this post.

2020 Music SOLs 

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2018 Science SOLs 

Grades K-4: Living Systems and Processes
2.5 – Living things are part of a system.
3.5 – Aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems support a diversity of organisms.
4.3 – Organisms, including humans, interact with one another and with the nonliving components in the ecosystem.

Grades K-5: Earth and Space Systems
3.7 – There is a water cycle and water is important to life on Earth.
4.7 – The ocean environment.

Grades K-5: Earth Resources
1.8 – Natural resources can be used responsibly, including that most natural resources are limited; human actions can affect the availability of natural resources; and reducing, reusing, and recycling are ways to conserve natural resources.
3.8 – Natural events and humans influence ecosystems.
4.8 – Virginia has important natural resources.

Grade 6
6.6 – Water has unique physical properties and has a role in the natural and human-made environment.
6.8 – Land and water have roles in watershed systems.
6.9 – Humans impact the environment and individuals can influence public policy decisions related to energy and the environment.

Life Science
LS.6 – Populations in a biological community interact and are interdependent.
LS.8 – Change occurs in ecosystems, communities, populations, and organisms over time.
LS.9 – Relationships exist between ecosystem dynamics and human activity.
LS.11 – Populations of organisms can change over time.

Earth Science
ES.6 – Resource use is complex.
ES.8 – Freshwater resources influence and are influenced by geologic processes and human activity.
ES.10 – Oceans are complex, dynamic systems subject to long- and short-term variations.

BIO.2 – Chemical and biochemical processes are essential for life.
BIO.7 – Populations change through time.
BIO.8 – Dynamic equilibria exist within populations, communities, and ecosystems.

2015 Social Studies SOLs 

Grades K-3 Geography Theme
1.6 – Virginia climate, seasons, and landforms.
2.6 – Major rivers, mountains, and other geographic features of North America and other continents.
3.6 – Major rivers, mountains, and other geographic features of North America and other continents.

Grades K-3 Economics Theme
2.8 – Natural, human, and capital resources.
3.8 – Understanding of cultures and of how natural, human, and capital resources are used for goods and services.

Grades K-3 Civics Theme
3.12 – Importance of government in community, Virginia, and the United States.

Virginia Studies Course
VS.1 – Impact of geographic features on people, places, and events in Virginia history.
VS.10 – Knowledge of government, geography, and economics in present-day Virginia. 

United States History to 1865 Course
USI.2 – Major land and water features of North America, including their importance in history.

United States History: 1865-to-Present Course
USII.9 – Domestic and international issues during the second half of the 20th Century and the early 21st Century.

Civics and Economics Course
CE.6 – Government at the national level.
CE.7 – Government at the state level.
CE.8 – Government at the local level.
CE.10 – Public policy at local, state, and national levels.

World Geography Course
WG.2 – How selected physical and ecological processes shape the Earth’s surface, including climate, weather, and how humans influence their environment and are influenced by it.
WG.3 – How regional landscapes reflect the physical environment and the cultural characteristics of their inhabitants.
WG.4 – Types and significance of natural, human, and capital resources.

Government Course
GOVT.7 – National government organization and powers.
GOVT.8 – State and local government organization and powers.
GOVT.9 – Public policy process at local, state, and national levels.
GOVT.15 – Role of government in Va. and U.S. economies, including examining environmental issues and property rights.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.
Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15 – on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15 – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16 – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16 – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18 – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 407, 2-12-18 – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19 – on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.
Episode 524, 5-11-20 – on sounds by water-related animals, for elementary school through high school.
Episode 531, 6-29-20 – on various ways that animals get water, for 3rd and 4th grade.
Episode 539, 8-24-20 – on basic numbers and facts about Virginia’s water resources, for 4th and 6th grade.
Episode 606, 12-6-21 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.