NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - Scientists have begun researching an under-studied source of Chesapeake Bay pollution: Tidal flooding.
The Virginian-Pilot reported last week that flooding driven by ocean tides often drags trash and other waste into the nation's largest estuary.
Tidal flooding greatly affects areas around coastal Virginia, including large cities such as Norfolk. Old Dominion University professor Margaret Mulholland said she's seen receding floodwaters pull in tipped-over garbage bins, basketballs and human waste.
Mulholland and a team of students and volunteers are collecting floodwater samples. The data so far show that an entire year's worth of nitrogen from land runoff poured into the Lafayette River during one tidal flooding event.
The river feeds the Chesapeake Bay, and too much nitrogen is the leading cause of oxygen dead zones in the bay.