Stream Watershed Study
The health of estuaries such as the Chesapeake Bay and its tributary rivers depends on the condition of headwater, or "wadeable" streams. Of Anne Arundel County’s nearly 1500 miles of headwater streams, approximately 300 stream miles are in poor or very poor condition.
Three streams (Galloway Creek, Two Run Branch, and Pindell Branch) flow through the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary and into the Patuxent River, but their headwaters lie beyond publicly owned, protected land. Human activities upstream in the watersheds can contribute to habitat degradation and reduced water quality.
In 2009, we began a study of the three streams, collecting water chemistry, macroinvertebrate, and fish data. Results from our 22-year study of Two Run Branch, which indicate fair to good water quality, will serve as a reference for the current stream study comparison.
State of the Streams:
The most widespread stream stressors are nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen), riparian disturbance, and excess streambed sedimentation. These stressors make it difficult for fish and other aquatic life to survive. Excess nutrients from stormwater runoff, septic systems, wastewater treatment plants, and agricultural sources overload the streams with nitrogen, causing algal growth, robbing the streams of dissolved oxygen and water clarity and degrading stream habitat. More than 70% of the nation’s streams are impacted by riparian disturbance, resulting in excess sediments that cause stream instabilty and smother aquatic habitat.
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