Water is an essential component of life and yet, few people know what it takes to maintain the integrity of this scarce natural resource. A look at the struggles of Chesapeake Bay demonstrates the importance of caring for our water supply so it will continue to care for us.

Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary (a mixture of salt and fresh water) in the United States. More than 150 rivers and streams drain into the bay and with them, a flood of pollutants, toxins and heavy metals. Home to a wide variety of fish, reptiles, waterfowl, and vegetation, the ecosystem there is rich and diverse.

The environmental toll of development

As the areas surrounding Chesapeake Bay have expanded, development has lead to stress on the ecosystem. As communities grow, water treatment plant facilities have to deal with an increased volume of sewage. Combined with runoff of farm and industrial waste, the bay has experienced signs of severe deterioration, including hypoxia, a condition in which oxygen-depleted waters can no longer support life.

Expanding the capacity of water facilities to match the speed of development in the area has proven to be difficult; the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and the life it supports, have all suffered because of it.

Siemens technology improves water quality

There is hope for the Chesapeake Bay, however, and improvements can already be seen. Many water treatment facilities in the area have been upgraded and Siemens technology is now being used to help remove pollutants from the water before it reaches the bay. This advanced technology allows the facilities to treat wastewater reducing nitrogen and phosphorus, a crucial step in returning the bay to its naturally pristine state.

The waters of Chesapeake Bay are the lifeblood of the region. The deterioration has an extensive impact on the natural environment as well as the local communities. In many ways, the situation there is a microcosm of the global issue surrounding the quality of our water.

Technology—like that provided by Siemens—offers hope that we may find a way to maintain the integrity of our waters and the habitats they support, while still allowing our communities to develop and expand. With the help of Siemens, Chesapeake Bay is already making strides towards this goal.

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