Jun
11

Swim in the Bay? No Way!

By Sharon Behn  //  Cleanup, water quality  //  38 Comments

EASTON, Md. – Eighty-seven year old Clarence “Doc” Kuntz has been folding his long legs into borrowed kayaks for three years to pick up trash on the banks of the Tred Avon River.

“It’s almost litter-free now,” Kuntz said, after clambering out of his red kayak to pick up a selection of plastic bottles, bags and Styrofoam on the muddy banks of the river.

'Doc' Kuntz picks up trash on the shore of the Tred Avon in Easton, MD. 'Doc' has been independently cleaning parts of the upper Tred Avon around Easton, picking up bottles and litter in his kayak. News21 photo by Jason Lenhart

The Environmental Protection Agency, environmental advocates, citizens and businesses have been working for years to regulate and control the amount of pollutants and nutrients filling the rivers and waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

“But the quality of the water has not improved that much,” Kuntz said.

Asked if he would swim in the river, one of the many on the Eastern Shore of Maryland that eventually flows into the Chesapeake Bay, he answered: “Not voluntarily.”

Kuntz, who retired from his job at Dupont years ago, has made cleaning the river and its banks a personal mission that started in 2007 during his daily walks to the creek.

The bay tends to have a romantic image that really doesn’t correspond to real life, added Bill Wilhelm, who runs an inn in the tony St. Michaels area of the Eastern Shore.

Although the bay is cleaner than it was, Wilhelm said, “I wouldn’t necessarily go swimming in it.” And, he added, “I wouldn’t necessarily eat from it on a constant basis.”

–by Sharon Behn

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Bay on the Brink is a multimedia reporting project examining the fate of the Chesapeake Bay. It is produced by fellows at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism as part of News21, a consortium of journalism schools. This is the fellows' blog. The full project site is here: http://chesapeake.news21.com
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