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New Partnership to Monitor Mallows Bay Water Quality

Long-Term Monitoring Site to Benefit Public, Resource Managers and Scientists

Photo of kayaker at Mallows BayThe National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and Maryland Department of Natural Resources have announced a five-year partnership to monitor water quality at Mallows Bay on the Potomac River, a site being considered for designation as a national marine sanctuary.

The partnership plans for a long-term, continuous water quality monitoring site in the proposed Mallows Bay–Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary area providing real-time data to the public, resource managers and scientists via the department’s Eyes on the Bay program. Monitoring is expected to begin in spring. 

A $62,500 grant from the Foundation will purchase a buoy and water quality monitoring equipment, while the department will provide buoy deployment and maintenance, as well as data management, communication and analysis. The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center is donating the use of a fish telemetry receiver to track movements of tagged fish for various research studies.

“Partnerships like ours with the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation are essential to our ‘all hands on deck’ approach to meeting our Chesapeake Bay restoration goals,” Maryland Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton said. “As we look forward to designation of the national marine sanctuary, this monitoring project will help address those larger goals while also supporting the historic and recreational aspects of this Charles County gem.”

The department and its partners monitor progress at stations and buoys throughout the Chesapeake and coastal bays, but to date there has not been a permanent monitoring site within the proposed national marine sanctuary boundary. The planned monitoring will inform local resource management with data at 15-minute intervals showing chlorophyll (concentration of algae), clarity, dissolved oxygen, pH, salinity and temperature.

Scientists and resource managers can use the data to assess changes, aiding them in decision-making and other restoration efforts. Data will aid commercial watermen and recreational anglers, and benefit local tourism operators and visitors who could use the real-time data to plan trips.

“We are proud to partner with the state of Maryland to strengthen water quality monitoring at Mallows Bay,” National Marine Sanctuary Foundation President and CEO Kris Sarri said. “Through this partnership we will provide data to scientists and managers to help with restoration and information to fishermen and tourism operators to help them with their businesses. This project will benefit Mallows Bay, the greater Chesapeake Bay and the people who live, work and play there.”

Mallows Bay is renowned for its collection of historic shipwrecks known as the “Ghost Fleet,” diverse recreational opportunities and scenic beauty.