GreenGive organization members and volunteers followed the “Wade In” tradition started by State Senator Bernie Fowler 33 years ago in the Patuxent River by wading into Annapolis’ four creeks to assess water clarity on January 14. The waders move into the water until they can no longer see their feet or their sneakers, as an unscientific, yet easy-to-understand measure of how clear our creek waters are.

Back Creek (2019 measurement was 43.3”)
40” at Annapolis Maritime Museum
30” at Annapolis Maritime Museum’s Ellen O. Moyer Back Creek Nature Park
College Creek (2019 measurement was 39.4”)
19.5” at the St. John’s College living shoreline
Spa Creek (2019 measurement was 19.7”)
26” at Truxtun Park
Weems Creek (2019 measurement was 29.5”)
25.5” at Dewey Dock

In summary, Back Creek clarity was about the same as last year, College Creek was half as clear, Spa Creek was more clear, and Weems Creek was slightly less clear. This year more underwater grasses are being seen in almost all of the Bay’s tributaries.

Water clarity is important because it can affect the health of underwater grasses which are a critical part of the ecology of the Bay and its tributaries. When water is murky sunlight reaching underwater grasses is reduced making it difficult or impossible for photosynthesis to happen. Bay and river water can become cloudy from excess nutrients (such as fertilizers) and sediments (soil runoff or erosion in rainstorms) which fuel algae growth. When the algae dies the decomposition reduces available oxygen in the water harming aquatic wildlife.

Senator Fowler began his informal “sneaker index” of water clarity because he was concerned about the declining health of the Patuxent and the Chesapeake Bay. When he was a boy he could see crabs scurrying under his feet at chest-high depth. Read more: The tradition has continued throughout the Bay and its tributaries.

The GreenGive is a collaborative fundraising partnership that includes 11 small environmental nonprofits that work completely or primarily in Anne Arundel County. Funds raised by the 24-hour campaign, taking place this year on July 21-22, will be used to invest in actions that have a tangible impact on our own local waterways and quality of life. Every dollar raised will be turned into projects and programs that make a difference in Anne Arundel County.

The partners are:

  • Annapolis Green
  • Arundel Rivers Federation
  • ClearShark H2O
  • Friends of Jug Bay
  • Scenic Rivers Land Trust
  • Severn River Association
  • Severn Riverkeeper
  • Spa Creek Conservancy
  • Luke’s Restoration of Nature
  • Unity Gardens
  • Watershed Stewards Academy

Read more about the GreenGive here:

Amy Clements –, (410) 279-5554
Nina Fisher –, (410) 562-4806

Man wading into Back Creek

Steve Adams wades into Back Creek at the Annapolis Maritime Museum beach where the water clarity allowed him to see his feet at a depth of 40 inches.

Man wading into Back Creek

Chris “Goose” Norman wades 30 inches into Back Creek at the Annapolis Maritime Museum’s Back Creek Nature Park, social distancing with his mask.

Woman wading into College Creek

Elvia Thompson of Annapolis Green could not see her feet any deeper than 19.5 inches in College Creek at St. John’s College’s living shoreline.

Woman wading into Spa Creek

Amy Clements of Spa Creek Conservancy waded into Spa Creek at Truxtun Park to 26 inches before she could no longer see her feet.