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The state of the Chesapeake Bay is improving

Wednesday - 1/2/2013, 3:04pm  ET

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William Baker, president, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, says the state of the bay is improving, but the work isn't over yet. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)

Dick Uliano, wtop.com

ANNAPOLIS - With the sun-splashed waters of the Chesapeake Bay providing a shimmering backdrop, Will Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation declared, "the state of the bay is improving."

The foundation has issued its 2012 State of the Bay Report, which shows the bay's health has improved one point over the last report in 2010.

While the latest grade is just a D+ and its overall score is 32 out of 100, it's a 10 percent improvement in less than five years.

"Cooperation between individuals, businesses and governments has led to real progress," Baker said.

The foundation says there are lower levels of pollution and improvements in the oyster and blue crab populations.

The growth of underwater grasses is the only indicator measured by foundation scientists that failed to improve in the past two years because of higher water temperatures.

The foundation has led efforts to cut pollution in local creeks and rivers. State and local governments are held responsible for reductions or they potentially risk losing federal funding.

"Maryland has been a leader in charting a course toward bay restoration," Baker says

The foundation's goals for 2013 include defending gains made in Maryland to reduce pollution from storm water, septic systems and sprawling development.

The environmental group is hoping Virginia's legislature approves funding for upgrading municipal wastewater treatment plants.

Baker is pleased to see improvement in the Chesapeake Bay, the nation's largest estuary, a nursery for important fisheries including shad and rockfish. But he's also concerned that progress could breed complacency.

"We can see a saved bay in our lifetimes, but a D+ is not yet a good enough grade," he warned.

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