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Report shows improved Chesapeake Bay waters

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley announced that Chesapeake Bay showed broad water quality improvements in 2009, receiving its highest mark in seven years from the annual collaborative Chesapeake Bay Health Report Card.

The report card - an analysis conducted through the EcoCheck partnership between University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office - is based on data collected by state and federal agencies through the Chesapeake Bay Program.

The 2009 report noted improved conditions in eight bay regions and degraded conditions in two, earning the bay a grade of "C" for overall health.

"This report provides us with an independent look at how we in Maryland are living up to our commitment to restore the Bay," O'Malley said in a statement. "When integrated with our BayStat initiative, snapshots like this one help us hold ourselves accountable for meeting key milestones that will lead us to a healthier Bay.

"This is the Bay's highest grade since 2002 and an improvement over 2008's C-minus. Through our continued acceleration of efforts on the ground, we will deliver the results we need to turn the Bay and its rivers around," he added.

Grades for 14 reporting bay regions varied, ranging from B-minus to F. The highest-ranked region, for the third year in a row, was the Upper Western Shore, which includes the Bush and Gunpowder Rivers. The lowest ranked region was the Patapsco and Back Rivers.

Information about the 2009 Chesapeake Bay Health Report Card is available here, including region-specific data and downloadable graphics.