Perry County is known for its rural character and its outdoor recreationalopportunities. Hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, and boating are popular activities enjoyed by residents and non-residents alike. The County is blessed with clean forests and streams, however upon closer inspection one notices land use practices that are impacting Perry’s natural resources in an adverse way. The Perry Conservation District is dedicated to assisting and educating residents so they are better able to make informed decisions about the natural resources entrusted to them.
Pollution is the major threat to water quality not only in Perry County’s streams and rivers, but also to the Chesapeake Bay. Excess Nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment entering our watersheds is reducing water quality and damaging wildlife habitat. Clean water is essential to the prosperity of a community. A community’s health, lifestyle, industry and recreational opportunity depend on the availability of clean water. Pollution also degrades wildlife habitat. Excess nitrogen and phosphorus can lead to an over abundance of aquatic plants that upset the natural stream balance. Excess sediment that results from erosion is detrimental to creatures that dwell on the stream bottom. Sediment can settle on the stream bed covering essential habitat for macro invertebrates and decreasing food availability for fish.
The Department of Environmental Protection’s slogan “We all Live Downstream” promotes the concept that our land use practices impact not only the watershed where we live and work but also every downstream watershed all the way to the Chesapeake Bay. So, lawn chemicals that reach a stream in Perry Countywill travel downstream to another stream and then another until they eventually reach the Chesapeake Bay. Pollution is occurring from the point of entry all the way to the Chesapeake Bay!
There are two types of pollution; non-point source pollution and point source pollution. Point source pollution is by far the easiest to identify and regulate since it is pollution that is deposited at one location such as the discharge pipe of a sewage treatment plant. Tremendous progress has been made in reducing point source pollution since the implementation of the Clean Water Act of 1972. The Act introduced the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System, and provided funding for waste water treatment and state water quality programs. Basically, it made any entity with a point source discharger responsible for meeting clean water standards under the penalty of fines or closure. Non-point source pollution is pollution that could be coming from a variety of sources over a large land area. It is more difficult to recognize and even harder to control. In a watershed all water flows downhill to one water body. As the water travels through a watershed it picks up pesticides and fertilizers from fields and lawns, oil and salt from roads, sewage from treatment plants and any other pollutant that is in the watershed. These pollutants flow downstream until they reach the Chesapeake Bay. Often times property owners and farmers are not even aware that land use practices they are implementing are impacting water quality. Activities such as over fertilizing lawns, using pesticides close to the stream, mold board plowing or letting the cows use a pasture stream as a water source can cause stream pollution.
For more information on watersheds, protected waters, best management practices, riparian buffers, backyard habitat and what you can do to create a stream friendly property read on!