NORFOLK, Va. — Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Chesapeake Bay Office announced this morning their plans to drain, clean, and refill the Bay this Thursday.
This operation marks the first effort to clean the Bay since its construction was completed 35.5 million years ago. “The Chesapeake Bay is an incredible natural wonder,” commented Martin Randalls, NOAA Director, “But she’s way overdue for a scrub.”
The 64,299-square-mile drainage basin has been the focus of organized cleanup efforts since the 1980s to combat industrial pollution, toxic waste, algae blooms, and some minor staining. “We want a bay for future generations to enjoy, for wildlife to continue to thrive in, and, ultimately, we also want to protect the resale value,” commented Alison Masters of Beach and Bay Realty, a sponsor of the project. “God forbid Virginia needs to sell one day, but a good cleaning every once in awhile is a great way to protect your investment, just in case.”
Officials have asked recreational boaters, commercial fishermen, and all plant and wildlife to avoid the estuary between 10 p.m. Wednesday and 9 a.m. Friday.
“Shouldn’t take too long—we’ve got a hell of a system down,” added Jay Peebles of Peebles Aquatics, a Hampton Roads-based pool cleaning company contracted to lead the cleanup. “We’ve been draining and scrubbing pools for 35 years; this won’t take us more than a day, tops.”
The first phase of the cleanup effort will begin at 11 p.m. Wednesday, when NOAA engineers will begin draining the Bay. The second phase will consist of scrubbing the seabed and any rocks, reef, and shellfish in the area and a hearty bleaching of the general vicinity. Lastly, the original bay water will pass through a series of giant Brita filters designed specifically for the occasion. A quick Febreze will cap off the process and refilling should begin at 6 p.m. Thursday night and will be complete by 8 a.m. Friday morning.
As of press time, several dozen Costcos in the region were suddenly out of stock of Clorox, scrub brushes, and mop handles.