Operation Build a Reef: Severn River


On Maryland’s Severn River, communities have built not only their homes, but their entire lives around the water. Drawn to its shorelines, we find enjoyment in boating, water sports and fishing, and often turn to its shimmering surface for a sense of clarity and calm. Hundreds of thousands of people depend on the Severn, but now more than ever, the Severn needs our help.

The Severn watershed drains densely-developed suburban communities, two major highway systems and the city of Annapolis. We are experiencing erosion, habitat loss, degraded water quality, and are often apprehensive to swim in our own river. The good news is that things are beginning to turn around. Anne Arundel County is working hard to restore local waterways with an expansive suite of projects that tackle wastewater and stormwater pollution. What we need now, are more water-filtering oysters to repair the river from within.

Help us build an oyster reef.

This July, the State of Maryland will plant 40 million juvenile oysters to help restore a 13-acre oyster sanctuary between the Severn River Bridge and Naval Academy Bridge. But efforts do not have to end there. This restoration project presents a unique opportunity for residents, businesses and organizations within the Severn’s critical watershed area to do even more.

The Severn River Association and Oyster Recovery Partnership have set a goal to plant an additional 10 million oysters on this protected site — that’s 50 million new water-filtering oysters working to restore our river! A planting of this magnitude has not been conducted in the Severn in nearly a decade.

To reach the 50-million oyster goal, please consider purchasing a bushel of spat-on-shell for $100, each containing thousands of baby oysters. Every donation, no matter the size, will directly support the production, transport and planting of juvenile oysters in the Severn River. Plantings are tentatively scheduled to begin July 23 and take place through mid August.

build a reef graphic

A single healthy adult oyster can filter harmful excess nutrients from as much as 50 gallons of water a day. By planting millions of oysters, as we aim to do this summer, you can imagine the significant improvement to water quality and clarity.

Our goal is ambitious, but achievable if we come together as a community and take action now. With your support, we will build this reef, and make real, tangible progress in the health of the Severn River.