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Center for

Environment & Society

Chester River Watershed Observatory

Our vision is a Chesapeake Bay and watershed that is healthy and thriving; one in which natural systems and human communities are in balance. Interdisciplinary academic programs promote the integration of environmental issues, social values, and good old river mud.

This pioneer observatory will allow us to take the pulse of every aspect of the watershed. The data and results will be Internet available to agencies, academics, resource managers, and scientists. It will be melded with hands-on, experiential learning opportunities for formal and informal educators throughout the Chester River watershed. The program will be exportable to other local, regional, national and global water bodies.


  • The program will be tied to the social, economic and cultural aspects of the watershed.
  • It will allow measurements of input to the watershed that contribute to eutrophication, including; nutrients, sediments, and others. It will eventually allow forecasting of water quality conditions in the Chester River.
  • Partners in its establishment and maintenance include;
    • The Hach Corporation for establishing a Headwaters to Bay Observatory.
    • US Naval Academy – Severn vs Chester, Urban vs Rural
    • NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office & U.S. IOOS
    • Mid Atlantic Regional Association Coastal Ocean Observing System
    • Chesapeake Conservancy, Pat Noonan, John Smith Trail
    • Rutgers University, University of Maryland, and University of Delaware
  • 18 schools in the Chester River watershed will be fitted with a full functioning, Internet connected, weather station. This will allow the microclimate within the Watershed to be monitored and analyzed.
  • STEM Education will be integrated across the Watershed Curriculum, using hands-on programs developed by personnel at the CES; including; Build a Buoy, Basic Observation Buoys & Aquabotz (Underwater Robotics).
  • Benthic and shoreline habitat will be mapped using Callinectes and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles. The results will be melded with aerial imagery so that the river can be viewed as if it were empty of water.
  • Technology will be introduced that allows the monitoring of fish moving to and from the Bay to be identified and enumerated.
  • Models that simulate river flow under a variety of conditions will be constructed and made available via the Internet. The models will help understand where improvements in land management or water treatment will lead to improved water quality.