A New Threat Emerges for U.S. Lakes and Rivers | USA Today

The ecology of Waquoit Bay in Falmouth, and impacts on its health, have been intensively studied by MBL Ecosystems Center scientists for decades. Credit: Javier Lloret

... On the southwest tip of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, scientists at the Marine Biological Laboratory have for decades tracked the health of postcard-perfect estuaries like the Waquoit Bay. 

Over the past several decades, the Clean Air Act has cut down on nationwide nitrogen emissions from cars and industry, sharply reducing the amount of pollutants reaching the bay by air. But growing real estate development and aging septic systems have overwhelmed that trend and driven nitrogen levels in the Waquoit to unprecedented levels. 

The pollution has killed off once bountiful eelgrass, pushing it to just a few spare pockets of the bay. Populations of fish and scallops, which depend on it, have also fallen. Underwater algae has taken the place of the eelgrass, occasionally washing up in unsightly clumps on beaches.

A continued drop in air emissions has bought some time before the eelgrass fully disappears, said Javier Lloret, a research scientist at the laboratory. 

But the window is closing.

“It’s only giving us a little more time to act,” Lloret said. “This is the time to do something.” Read the full story.

Source: A New Threat Emerges for U.S. Lakes and Rivers. Your Lawn or Toilet May be Partly to Blame | USA Today