Seminars, Community Outreach Key to Understanding Chesapeake Bay Water Issues
By: Nick LaRosa
As the Chesapeake Bay Watershed’s population continues to steadily rise, pollution and water quality issues in the Bay will become even more widespread, despite already advanced efforts to curtail pollution from wastewater treatment plants.
According to the Chesapeake Bay Program, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed’s population increases by approximately 157,000 people every year, meaning that by 2030 up to 20 million people could reside within the boundaries of the watershed. As of 2011, the Bay’s total population was at 17.5 million people.
While efforts to protect the Bay have been around for roughly two decades, the spotlight is shifting to the residents of the watershed as they are being called on to do what they can to make a difference. Jennifer Dindinger, Regional Watershed Restoration Specialist for the University of Maryland’s Sea Grant Extension Program, has seen a ripple effect as residents attend workshops and seminars about what they can do to improve the watershed they live in.
“So the way that we go about speaking, there’s a couple of different methods,” Dindinger said via telephone. “It might just be a seminar where someone is upfront teaching and people in the audience are asking questions. There’s also the trainer approach, where, for example, a Master Gardener or a Master Watershed Steward or community leaders are trained on specific skills, like how to apply for a grant and follow a rain garden, and they engage community members in doing this.”
In addition to leading training sessions and presenting at seminars, Dindinger generally works the local government as well as watershed groups.
“They’ve been very thankful for information about how to achieve these watershed restoration goals because there isn’t a lot of money or resources out there to help communities meet these goals,” Dindinger said. “Part of my role is to facilitate the transfer of information from the state, who might have the resources, to the local government who needs them, or to a private funder, and so I’d say on that side they’ve been very thankful to have our support and our help.”
While a growing population may continue to contribute to the pollution issues within the Bay, it is important to recognize that every single person plays a role in the overall problem.
“Workshops, seminars, hands on demonstrations – those are the kinds of ways that we try to educate the community members in Maryland about water quality issues and what things they can do to change their behavior to improve it,” Dindinger said. “It’s helpful to understand how we can all work to improve water quality.”
Information courtesy of:
The Chesapeake Bay Program
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