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  • The Magothy River’s health declined last year from a 33 percent D to a 28 percent D, but MRA President Paul Spadaro still claimed the river is “sick, but not dead.”
    The Magothy River’s health declined last year from a 33 percent D to a 28 percent D, but MRA President Paul Spadaro still claimed the river is “sick, but not dead.”
  • The Magothy River’s health declined last year from a 33 percent D to a 28 percent D, but MRA President Paul Spadaro still claimed the river is “sick, but not dead.”
    The Magothy River’s health declined last year from a 33 percent D to a 28 percent D, but MRA President Paul Spadaro still claimed the river is “sick, but not dead.”
  • The Magothy River’s health declined last year from a 33 percent D to a 28 percent D, but MRA President Paul Spadaro still claimed the river is “sick, but not dead.”
    The Magothy River’s health declined last year from a 33 percent D to a 28 percent D, but MRA President Paul Spadaro still claimed the river is “sick, but not dead.”

State Of The Magothy Reveals Waterway’s Dire Condition

Brad Dress
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March 8, 2017

Despite Low Ranking, MRA Emphasizes The River Is Not Beyond Saving

During the annual State of the Magothy address at Anne Arundel Community College on February 24, Magothy River Association (MRA) President Paul Spadaro said the river’s health declined last year from a 33 percent D to a 28 percent D, but Spadaro still claimed the river is “sick, but not dead.”

That ranking was determined by a water quality assessment called the Magothy River index. Speaking on behalf of the MRA, which consists of more than 350 members, Spadaro attributed the low grade to overdevelopment, stormwater runoff and septic systems, which flush into the river.

“I might try legal action because I want to be compensated for [Anne Arundel County] not applying the law,” Spadaro said, referring to the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Law passed in 1984. The law requires the county to protect critical areas around the Chesapeake Bay and limit development. Spadaro added how “at this point, there is nothing left to protect unless we stand up and do it.”

Including various videos and pictures, the MRA had four presenters who each talked about the health of the Magothy River, what projects they did in the past year and what they were introducing or continuing in 2017.

Dr. Sally Hornor spoke first about the health of the river and elaborated on the index, which is calculated using three indicators. The first part mentioned was the amount and presence of the submerged aquatic vegetation, or underwater grasses, in the river. These help fish find habitats, provide oxygen and give waterfowl food. Hornor said they accounted for 28 acres in the river, but the goal is to have 544.

The second indicator is water clarity, or how far down MRA members could see into the water. The clarity allows light to reach the grasses. The third indicator is dissolved oxygen. The goal, Hornor said, is to have five milligrams, which most crabs and fish need to survive.

Hornor added there are 10 mainstem stations on the river where they obtain the data, and 13 creek and cove stations. According to Spadaro, the MRA plans to add two more sites in 2017.

Additionally, Hornor reported that the water temperature reached an 8 percent increase since 2015; the warmer water holds less oxygen for aquatic life.

But the good news, Hornor explained, was the 40 percent reduction of enterococci, which are bacteria that indicate the fecal waste put into the river, and a 55 percent decrease in suspended sediments, which helps improve water quality.

In 2017, Hornor said she wants to train volunteers to go out in kayaks and obtain quantitative data on the grasses, which she believes will help the process of bringing the index level up. Hornor added how she wanted to continue the yellow perch study in 2017. In this study, the MRA counts the number of egg chains of the perch and determines whether they can successfully reproduce.

“The long-term goal is to improve the Magothy,” Hornor said. “If we can help hold off development, and [the county] can do the restoration of the areas that are already trashed, we can see an improvement.”

The next speaker, Randy Bruns of MRA, said he inspects construction sites and others to see whether there is runoff and poor entrance ways that could affect the Magothy River. Bruns said he corrected more than 20 sites but needs more volunteers to help inspect the sites every two weeks.

Spadaro spoke next about the recent Magothy River Water Trail, which the MRA completed after several years. The Water Trail is a brochure about the river and includes a map, the history of the river and points of interest. The MRA has two kiosks containing the Water Trail brochures: one in Spriggs Farm (965 Bayberry Drive in Arnold) and one at Beachwood Park (8320 Beachwood Park Road in Pasadena).

Bob Royer, a member of the MRA and the last presenter, spoke about the Cattail Creek Restoration project. Royer said he and his team have “literally worked for years” to get the project going. Royer went through three attempts to get a grant from the county before finally becoming successful a year and a half ago to design the project. Royer landed the final grant to implement the plan an hour before his presentation. With the restoration project, Royer plans to plant more native vegetation, restock fish, clear more land and raise the creek bed.

Community members attending State of the Magothy said they were going to help protect the river. Richard Payne, a member of Belvedere Yacht Club, said he wants to contact the club and see what it can do to help the river, as the club’s surrounding area is in particularly bad shape, according to the MRA.

Tammy Domanski, an associate professor at Anne Arundel Community College, enjoyed the presentations. She does bacterial sampling for the MRA and hires AACC students to help. “I really liked the last presentation by Bob Royer,” Domanski said. “He just gave hope for the whole thing.”

Spadaro is hopeful that more people will get involved and take an active role in saving the Magothy River. “We are volunteers; nobody gets paid a nickel for what we do,” Spadaro said at the conclusion of the last presentation. “Just think of what you have seen today and the extent of what we are doing.”


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