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Chesapeake Bay Clean-Up Efforts Lagging

Updated: Wednesday, January 8 2014, 06:09 PM EST

The Chesapeake Bay is the largest waterway of its kinds in the U.S., and it's likely the most polluted. Lawmakers have spent years struggling to restore the waterway, but many believe it may be too late.

Jay Sadowski has spent a lifetime on the bay, but when he unhooked a fish two months ago his life took a desperate turn.

"And my wife says you're leg looks swollen and I didn't think anything about it, but that's when I got chills real bad. Come the next morning I couldn't walk couldn't anything," Sadowski said.

Sadowski believes bacteria from the contaminated bay seeped into an open wound and infected his leg so severely, he was hospitalized for six weeks. "I mean losing the muscle mass on this side, it's never going to look right," Sadowski said.

The injury comes as little surprise to many homeowners who live on the bay. Six years ago, Gerald Winegrad began producing oysters in the water behind his home. He hoped they could help filer the dirty waterway, but at times the waterway was even too dirty for them.

"The biggest problem is the sediment that comes in will smother them and kill them," Winegrad said.

Residents have long complained about the waters, but lawmakers didn't pay any attention until 30 years ago when a federal study revealed just how toxic the water had become.

Not only did President Reagan dedicate millions to the clean-up, but the governors of states surrounding the bay signed an agreement vowing to work together to flush pollution out.

Winegrad was there that day when the agreement was signed, but it's now 30 years later and the bay remains in critical condition. "All of us thought, like Harry Hughes said, it'd be ten years and we'd get it done," Winegrad said.

Though nutrient and sediment pollution has been reduced, 75 percent of the waterway remains critically contaminated.

Governor O'Malley was recently named chairman of the Chesapeake Executive Council, which explores strategies for restoring the bay. He is pledging to lead the bay into a new era of progress.

Chesapeake Bay Clean-Up Efforts Lagging

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Washington Times