Chesapeake Bay's dead zone is smallest it's been in years

SALISBURY, Md. (AP) — Researchers say that the Chesapeake Bay's infamous dead zone is the smallest it's been in years.

The so-called dead zone is an area where oxygen levels are so low that aquatic life dies. The area is caused by pollution, often from runoff from farms and cities in the bay's watershed.

The Daily Times of Salisbury reported Wednesday that the dead zone is smaller in both the Maryland and Virginia sides of the Chesapeake.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources found that the bay's average dissolved oxygen conditions were the second best on record since 1985. The only year in which the dead zone was smaller was in 2012.

Researchers at the Virginia Institute for Marine Science said the dead zone in 2020 was smaller than most over the last 35 years.

Beth McGee, director of science at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said the smaller dead zone is proof that years-long cleanup efforts are working. Those efforts include reducing the amount of runoff and treated sewage that flows into the watershed.