Buried on the 4th page of the Health section yesterday was a Washington Post piece about the water quality in the Chesapeake Bay. Or the lack of quality, rather. A report released by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation claims that all sorts of yuck awaits humans who choose to go in the bay, ranging from algae blooms to mercury to a particularly nasty bacteria, vibrio.
The story closes with an anecdote about one of Virginia’s 30 reported vibrio cases from last year, Ken Smith, vice president of the Virginia Waterman’s Association. The idea of picking up what looks like a mosquito bite that ends up turning into a swollen arm and a trip to the hospital is pretty ugly, so be mindful of any seemingly minor injuries you pick up in the water this summer: see a doctor if they start to get worse.
You can read the report yourself if you like; the CBF hosts Bad Water 2009: The Impact on Human Health in the Chesapeake Bay Region [pdf] on their website for anyone to download. If you don’t, please consider at least taking the advice of both the CDF and government officials who suggest you avoid swimming in the Chesapeake for at least 48 hours after a heavy rain in order to avoid unpleasant runoff.
In case you’re wondering: neither the WaPo or the CDF report expicitly definewhat makes for a “heavy” rain but sample data in the report refers to samples after a 1″ rain, so you should probably consider anything over 1/2″ as “heavy” for this purpose.