To better prepare participants for the hackathon, we have compiled the following resources:


Upcoming Events:

For any of the following events, learn more and register here

  • Hack the Bay Winner Presentations (Tuesday, Sep. 29, 5:30-7:00pm ET), Learn about the winning solutions in each of the four challenges for Hack the Bay. 

Past Events:

Creating a Team on Devpost:

  1. Establish team members (Devpost can help you identify team members or ask around in Slack)
  2. Pick a team leader (main submitter)
  3. The team leader will go to the Hack the Bay page and start the submission form
  4. The team leader can add their teammates to the draft project
  5. Your team and draft submission will now be linked to your profile. We suggest creating a chat for your group on Slack for team communications.

Background Reading:

Background: Chesapeake Monitoring Cooperative (CMC)

In 2015, the U.S. EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) funded the formation of the Chesapeake Monitoring Cooperative (CMC) to expand their Chesapeake Bay data collection efforts to volunteer, academic, NGO and local government groups. CMC is a collective of water conservation and research groups that provide technical, logistical, and outreach support for the integration of community-based, non-traditional water quality and macroinvertebrate monitoring data into the federal CBP partnership. CMC has successfully launched and is running the first federally-supported citizen science water quality data initiative. As part of this effort, CMC cultivates collaboration among previously siloed water monitoring groups; has developed a pipeline and platform for collecting, vetting, sharing and scaling data on the Chesapeake Bay; and engages residents in the conservation process.

Opportunity for Innovation

The CMC is at its next big steppingstone where it seeks assistance in demonstrating and leveraging the value of the data collected and housed in CMC’s Chesapeake Data Explorer. Ultimately, the CMC would like to illustrate the value of this network of data provides to the Chesapeake Bay Program partnership, State agencies, and community partners by:

  • Demonstrating enhanced insight and understanding of Chesapeake Bay and watershed health.
  • Connect this data back to the value and impact of Bay restoration practices supporting adaptive management strategies, especially to policymakers and non-scientists
  • Be able to host fully developed visualization/analytical tools on their website

To support these goals, we are seeking crowd-sourced solutions in four separate hackathon tracks:

  1. Develop a Restoration Case Study
  2. Identify Data Gaps
  3. Model Water Pollution
  4. Design a Water Quality Report Card

Before launching into one of these challenges, we strongly recommend that hackathon participants review these background resources on the data and the issues impacting the Chesapeake Bay.

Background: Chesapeake Bay Issues

The Issues Read select issues. Estimated reading time 22 minutes total (~2 minutes per issue).

A variety of human behaviors have harmed the health of the Bay, including overharvesting fish, crabs, and oysters; deforestation; and agricultural, industrial, and development practices that create pollution. The Chesapeake Bay Program neatly summarizes the various issues impacting the health of the Bay. We recommend reviewing the sections on nutrients, chemical contaminants, groundwater, forest buffers, rivers and streams, sediment, stormwater runoff, wastewater, agriculture, climate change, and development

Significance of Chemical Parameters Read select fact sheets. Estimated reading time 6 minutes (~1 minute per fact sheet). 

The Chesapeake Bay is managed for nutrients and sediments in what is known as a “Pollution Diet.” In regulatory language, this is known as the Bay Total Maximum Daily Load. This is because the Chesapeake Bay receives nutrients and sediments from the watershed that affect water quality, which manifest in symptoms of poor health such as the annual “dead zone.” The targets for reducing nutrients are developed from a model of how bay health responds to managing nutrients and sediments.

CMC and the Chesapeake Bay Program measure the impact of nutrients through monitoring both chemical indicators and counting the presence of different benthic organisms. Learn about what the chemical indicators in CMC’s database mean, what causes them to fluctuate, and their impact on the Bay. In particular, we recommend reading about pH, water temperature, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, nitrogen, and phosphorus.

Reports on Bay Health Read each report. Total estimated reading time 20 minutes. 

Several organizations annually track the health of the Chesapeake Bay: 

  • The Chesapeake Bay Report Card, produced by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (a member of CMC), assesses the watershed of various tributaries based on a variety of indicators. The 2019 report scored the Bay with a C- for the second year in a row; this Chesapeake Bay Program blog post interprets the latest score. (6 minutes).
  • Chesapeake Bay Program’s Bay Barometer, produced by CBP, tracks progress being made against the goals outlined in the 2014 Watershed Agreement. The 2018-2019 report focuses in part on the impact of record-level rain on the Bay in 2018. (10 minutes)
  • The Chesapeake Bay Dead Zone Report, produced by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, examines hypoxia in the Bay (low-oxygen levels that make water uninhabitable for fish and blue crabs). (3 minutes)

New Insights Report Strongly recommended. Estimated reading time 30 minutes.

This report produced by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) provides an excellent overview of the current understanding of what’s working, existing challenges, and opportunities for the Chesapeake Bay. Lessons outlined in this report:

  • Lesson 1: Upgrades in both nitrogen and phosphorus wastewater treatment result in rapid local water quality improvements.
  • Lesson 2: Improvements in air quality lead to reductions in atmospheric nitrogen deposition.
  • Lesson 3: Reductions of agricultural nutrient sources result in improved stream quality.
  • Lesson 4: Many practices provide initial water quality improvements in runoff; however, full benefits to stream conditions can be delayed.
  • Lesson 5: Improvements in water quality can be counteracted by changes in nutrient sources and land-use practices.
  • Lesson 6: Observable water quality responses are more likely to occur if A) location-specific sources of pollution are identified and B) targeted practices are implemented.
  • Lesson 7: An array of practices to promote stormwater infiltration and retention are needed in urban and suburban areas.  


2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement Read entire page. Estimated reading time 2 minutes. 

This document outlines the vision of the Chesapeake Bay Program and ten goals falling under the themes of abundant life, clean waters, engaged communities, conserved lands and climate change resilience. Each goal provides additional detail on the strategies and metrics for success.

New Synthesis Describes Current Understanding of Factors Driving Nutrient Trends in Streams of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Recommended. Estimated reading time of main findings, 1 minute.

This report is a just released synthesis of factors driving nutrient trends in streams in the watershed. The main findings are summarized on the website. The full report is here. Full report estimated reading time is 20 minutes.

Challenge 1: Develop a Restoration Case Study (Time Series / Visualization Challenge) 

Hack the Bay Kick-off: Challenge 1 Breakout Video

Using data from CMC, the Chesapeake Bay Program, and supplementary sources, tell a story about how water quality has changed over time in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.


  • Select one region that has robust water quality sampling (minimum of 3 years of consecutive data, 5 years is preferable) with at least 10 water quality data points and/or 1 benthic data point per year (excluding the LeTort Watershed in Carlisle, PA).
  • Focus your analysis on water temperature and/or pH or conductivity or benthic macroinvertebrates
    • If you are looking at more than one variable, always include water temperature.
  • Use CBP data and CMC data to conduct your analysis
    • If you subtract CMC data, do your results change?
  • Develop a baseline expectation of your selected indicators, considering research on the expected relationship(s) between land use and water quality.
  • In addition to the pre-reading and datasets provided, you may consider additional research on urban development, Best Management Practices, and restoration activities in your selected region to support your case study.

Guiding Questions:

  • From CMC data, where do you have data to tell a story about your chosen indicator trends in your region?
  • How variable is the indicator(s) across seasons?
  • What is the rate of change you are seeing?
  • How does the pace of change at your area(s) of interest compare to our understanding of your chosen indicator change in the watershed? In those specific regions of the watershed?
  • (If one of your indicators is pH): Do any locations indicate restoration success (i.e., trending towards neutral) or new degrading trends (either becoming very low (<5) or very high (>9))?
  • From your research (the provided background reading and/or additional external research on your selected region), how would you expect external factors and/or water management practices to impact this indicator? Do we see this reflected in the data?
  • How does CMC’s data change or support the story, compared to an analysis on CBP data alone?

Target Deliverable(s):

  • Visualization(s) that tell a story about water quality and surrounding land use over time.
  • An explanation of methods for developing your analysis.

Background Reading:

Air & Water Temperature Strongly recommended. Estimated reading time 1 minute.  

Air and water temperatures are increasing throughout the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed; however, not all areas are changing at the same pace. This report from “Chesapeake Progress Climate Change Monitoring and Assessment” provides background on these trends over extended periods of time, and an explanation of their significance. 

Freshwater salinization syndrome on a continental scale Strongly recommended. Estimated reading time 15 minutes.

Conductivity is increasing throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed; however, not all areas are changing at the same pace. This article explains the effect of salinization and alkalinity (which can be measured through conductivity) in the Bay.

Acid Mine Drainage Remediation in a Small Watershed Strongly recommended. Estimated reading time 15 minutes.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has singled out acid drainage from abandoned coal mines as the number one water quality problem in Appalachia.  The issue is most severe in western Maryland, West Virginia, and northern, central and western Pennsylvania.  Also note, nutrient pollution and algal blooms can produce high pH conditions. Changes in pH that lead to more neutral conditions are favorable targets in water quality restoration targets because most organisms we manage for survive, grow and reproduce well in near neutral pH waters.

Stream RestorationStrongly recommended. Estimated reading time 1 minute.  

One method for addressing urban runoff into the Bay is stream restoration, which involves redirecting, buffering, and replanting along stream shores to prevent erosion and filter water before it gets to larger tributaries and the Bay. If interested in the technical details of how this is implemented, read the Chesapeake Bay Program’s fact sheet on stream restoration practices (2 minutes). Additionally,this Baltimore Sun Article (5 minutes) discusses the investment into stream restoration and the mixed short-term results.  

Best Management Practices Strongly recommended. Estimated reading time 2 minutes.  

Because a significant amount of nutrients in the Chesapeake Bay originate on farms from pesticides and animal waste, best management practices (BMPs) are guidelines for farmers on how to protect water and air quality on their farms. BMPs include Streamside Buffers, Streamside Fencing, Nutrient Management Plans (NMPs), Continuous No-Till, and Cover Crops. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has success stories at the bottom of this page on farmers who have adopted BMPs.  

Restoration of Coastal Grasses  Strongly recommended. Estimated reading time 10 minutes.  

This research paper (Long-term nutrient reductions lead to the unprecedented recovery of a temperate coastal region,published in PNAS, 2018) has been cited as an indication that Bay restoration efforts are succeeding, specifically in bringing back coastal grasses. The paper finds that nutrients from land use activities (i.e., nonpoint sources) have a more significant impact than those from specific sources (e.g., sewage treatment plants) and provides an overview of their data sources and scientific modeling methods.  

Rock Creek is Washington’s Dirtiest Waterway Optional. Estimated reading time 5 minutes.  

Anacostia River Keepers’ testing in 2019 found higher levels of bacteria in Rock Creek than in the Anacostia. This Washington Post article discusses what contributes to bacteria in urban streams; the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment’s efforts to clean up waterways through green infrastructure programs and the new Blue Plains wastewater treatment plant; and the expansion of citizen science water quality monitoring in DC.  

Challenge 2: Identifying Data Gaps (GIS / Mapping Challenge)

Hack the Bay Kick-off: Challenge 2 Breakout Video

With one or more visualizations, demonstrate how and where CMC’s data fills the gaps in the Chesapeake Bay Program’s database, and where data gaps in the watershed still exist. Provide an analysis that recommends locations and parameters that CMC should prioritize for new data collection, and why.


  • We are interested in parameters one by one ( ie. what is the distribution of conductivity data collection across the landscape or by region type)

  • We would love to understand where CMC data fills in the gaps of the CBP data collected

  • The geospatial distribution of our data points misrepresents that there is excellent coverage- there are major TEMPORAL GAPS

  • The focus is on current datasets (samples collected within the last 5 years)

  • Benthic data is usually only collected in wadable streams, not mainstems of major rivers( ie stream order 1-4)- important for considering where data is recommended to be collected in the future

  • Use maps of the Bay watershed stream/tributaries to inform the possible collection points ( land use and HUCs, NHD)

Guiding Questions:

  • Build a gaps analysis around one parameter (that can be scaled to other parameters). How does robustness of data collection vary ( by time?)

  • Where are the geospatial gaps in data collection at a local, regional and watershed wide scale? What are the data gaps just with CMC data and compared to CBP data?

  • If CMC could ask volunteers for a station to begin collecting one more parameter, which should be highest priority and why?

  • If CMC could start monitoring an unmonitored part of the watershed, where should they recruit new volunteers and why?

Other Questions to Consider:

  • Find gaps by landscape or land-use type, ie, forested areas vs. agricultural areas vs. urban areas vs. wetlands. Or consider how well-represented gaps are by Where can we focus monitoring efforts to better understand rising temperatures?

  • Identify where we have gaps in types of sampling-- between CMC, CBP and WQ Portal- look at one-time grab samples versus sites where monitors have returned– where would it be most helpful to return regarding temperature and benthic data?

  • Consider state water quality standards – e.g. looking at where states have assessed waters vs. not, what they’ve been assessed for, where streams are listed as impaired, where there are TMDLs – are there ways to address monitoring gaps that would give us more information about impaired streams and improving streams?

Target Deliverable(s):

  • Visualization(s) that demonstrate data density (by location, parameter and/or time).
  • An analysis and explanation of methods for determining how to prioritize new data collection.

Background Reading:

CMC Prioritization Report  Strongly recommended. Estimated reading time 20 minutes.  

This 2017 report details the goals of CMC, how they work with states and volunteer monitoring groups, and their strategy for expanding and prioritizing data collection points. See the table on pg. 10 for a breakdown on what states are most interested in measuring. See the map on pg. 7 for the distribution of available volunteer groups for collecting and sharing data with CMC. 

CMC Tiered Data Rubric  Strongly recommended. Estimated reading time 8 minutes.  

CMC has a set of three tiers for vetting and managing water quality collection: Tier 1-- Education, Environmental Health Screening; Tier 2 --Environmental Health Report Cards, Environmental Health Screening, Targeting of Management Actions; Tier 3 --Chesapeake Bay Watershed trends and assessments to help inform policy and management decisions. Knowing how these tiers are distributed in their data will be key to performing a gap analysis.  

Statistical Methods for Water Quality Monitoring  Optional. Estimated reading time 20 minutes.  

This paper provides a robust overview of different statistical approaches to evaluating water quality data and ranking the reliability of water stations.  

Challenge 3: Modeling Water Pollution (Machine Learning / Modeling Challenge)

CMC’s water quality indicators can be linked to types of pollution in the tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay. Analyze potential causes and/or build a predictive model for pollution in a section of the Bay using CMC, CBP, and supplementary geospatial datasets.


  • We recommend you build your model to predict for one feature in CMC’s data 
  • Other models have shown location is closely tied to pollution levels – can you build a model that explores land use in greater detail?
  • If you need to, pick just one area of the watershed. We recommend using HUC-12 codes to segment your selections.
  • The biggest challenge with machine learning on the water quality data is handling data sparsity (geospatial, temporal, and feature). Ensure your chosen feature set is highly available and reproducible. (Alternatively: are there methods for missing data interpolation you can try to fill in gaps?)
  • There exist a few recognized models that describe the interaction between location and pollution levels. Can you leverage the outputs of these other models to inform your own new model?

Guiding Questions:

  • How does land cover, land use, and/or geology describe the selected region? 
  • How does weather impact water flow into the Bay?
  • Can you separate the influence of source and point source pollution for a selected region of the watershed?
  • How does using CMC’s data in an analysis of pollution patterns and indicator results impact our understanding of pollution sources and their effects on water quality (compared to an analysis on CBP data alone?)

Target Deliverable(s):

  • Predictive model and/or correlation analysis for explaining patterns found from condition measures expressed by water quality indicator(s) assessments in a part or all of the watershed​. (For machine learning solutions, include your model's performance metrics and your interpretation.)
  • Visualizations and code to support your model and analytical process/findings.

Background Reading:

Point Source and Nonpoint Source Pollution Strongly recommended. Estimated reading time 2 minutes each.

Point Source pollution is any source of pollution that comes from an easily identified location, ex. discharge pipes and drainage ditches. Non-Point source pollution comes from many places at once and is much harder to track. This page on the CBP website includes maps of point source pollution for each state. Additionally, CBP has an available dataset of point source pollution locations.

Chesapeake Bay Modeling Strongly recommended. Estimated reading time 5 minutes.

Provides an overview of the existing models for pollution in the Chesapeake Bay used by CBP.

EPA Federal Land Chesapeake Bay Management Strongly recommended. Estimated reading time 5 minutes.

This May 2010 guidance presents the most effective tools and practices to address nonpoint source pollution from federal land management activity in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. This guidance covers the following categories: agriculture, urban and suburban (including turf), forestry, riparian areas, decentralized wastewater treatment systems, and hydromodification.

Climate Resiliency for the Chesapeake Bay Strongly recommended. Estimated reading time 15 minutes.

This team of data and climate scientists built a model for predicting nitrogen pollution in the Chesapeake Bay using machine learning and CMC and CBP water quality data. Their solution, developed in three weeks for Databricks’ Hackathon for Social Good, won third place in the competition. This team’s work provides an example of how a hackathon team might approach machine learning with CMC and CBP data. Check out their ML code on github here. You can also see a short video overview of their entry here. 

Factors driving nutrient trends in streams of the Chesapeake Bay watershed Strongly recommended. Estimated reading time 5 minutes.

The USGS conducted new research, and synthesized results from other studies, to provide useful insights on multiple factors complicating the understanding of nutrient trends in bay watershed. This paper summarizes the current understand of factors driving nutrient trends.

Predicting biological conditions for small headwater streams in the Chesapeake Bay watershed Optional. Estimated reading time 15 minutes.

Benthic IBI scores have been modeled according to land use information using CART and Random Forest approaches based on Family level classification of benthic invertebrates. CMC has a lot of Order level macrobenthos data. Developing a watershed-wide Order level predictive model of watershed health can represent a supporting perspective on patterns of watershed condition given the challenge and cost of family level data acquisition.

Predictive Modeling of Bacteria Concentrations at Presque Isle State Park, Erie, Pennsylvania Optional. Estimated reading time 2 minutes.

Bacteria concentrations represent targets affecting swimmable and fishable water conditions for human health and safety. CMC has a collection of bacteria data that has not been used to model count distributions and consider land use settings prone to bacteria impacts on waterways and their health. A binary model of good and poor conditions could be a first cut effort to understand land use/land cover relationships to bacteria in the watershed. If other individual parameters or some collection of parameters with abundant data correlate well with bacteria measures, perhaps a watershed-wide model of vulnerability to high bacteria levels can be developed.

Predicting the Hypoxic-Volume in Chesapeake Bay with the Streeter-Phelps Model: a Bayesian Approach Optional. Estimated reading time 25 minutes.

This paper provides an example of a study of one Bay measurement - hypoxic volume estimates - using a Bayesian framework. 

Natural Capital InVEST Model and Publication Optional. Estimated reading time 5 minutes.

Developed by Stanford’s Natural Capital Project, InVEST is a suite of free, open-source software models used to map and value the goods and services from nature that sustain and fulfill human life. It helps explore how changes in ecosystems can lead to changes in the flows of many different benefits to people.

Bay Health Impacted by Record Flows Optional. Estimated reading time 5 minutes.

2019 saw record levels of rain for the Bay region. This article outlines the impact of increased precipitation on overall Bay health, from salinity to animal populations.

Challenge 4: Designing a Water Quality Report Card (Design / Web Dev Challenge)

Hack the Bay Kick-off: Challenge 4 Breakout Video

Design a local or regional version of the Chesapeake Bay report card that ties water quality to the values of communities living in the watershed.


  • Report Cards have provided a way for many people to understand complicated environmental measures through a familiar system of interpreting the results, usually with grading scales like you would see in school (A, B, C, D, F), or something similar like “Excellent”, “Good”, “Fair” or “Poor.” Consider using this scale for your report card to align with existing reports.
  • Use the UMCES Chesapeake Bay Report Card as a starting point.
  • Pick one watershed area (ex., a county or municipality) and make your report card specific to that region. Imagine a platform where users could input their zip code and retrieve key facts and status of their local streams.
  • Leverage stories, data, articles about communities in the Chesapeake Bay to design your report card for them.
  • Your report card is an opportunity to educate and inspire communities to care about water quality.

Guiding Questions:

  • Who lives in the local watershed of interest and what are their values?
  • How would you explain why knowing your local water quality is important to understand your community’s health? Why should anyone care about local water quality?
  • How does water quality impact communities, in terms of recreation (public access, or swimming, or fishing), public health, economic opportunity?
  • Consider the social vulnerability index of your selected watershed. (This describes how communities are able to respond to national disasters, etc.)

Target Deliverable(s):

  • A prototype of a customized water quality report based on the values for a resident of the watershed.
  • An explanation of the principles, considerations, or research informing your design decisions.

Background Reading:

2019 Chesapeake Bay & Watershed Report Card Read entire report. Estimated reading time 6 minutes.  

Produced by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (a member of CMC), this annual report card assesses the watershed various tributaries based on a variety of indicators. In 2019, the overall score for Chesapeake Bay is a 44%, a C-. This means the Bay is in moderate health. Despite the decrease in score from 2018, overall bay health is slightly improving over time. For its first ever score, the Chesapeake Watershed scored 60%, a B-. This means the Watershed is in good health.  

Blue Water Baltimore Report Card Review site. Estimated 1-2 minutes.

Check out this example of a digital report card on the water quality of the Baltimore area, produced by Blue Water Baltimore.

2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement Read final section on Engaged Communities. Estimated 5 minutes.

The watershed agreement outlines several goals for expanding local stewardship of the watershed; expanding public access to tributaries for recreation; and enhancing environmental literacy for residents of the watershed. These goals should inform report card design decisions.

Healthy Streams  Read entire site. Skim various management strategies. Estimated reading time 6 minutes.  

Each jurisdiction in the Chesapeake Bay region has its own definition of healthy waters and watersheds, and its own programs to support watershed protection. Honoring state preference, the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Maintain Healthy Watersheds Goal Implementation Team will not seek a single definition for healthy waters and watersheds but will strategically track and support the preservation of state-identified healthy waters and watersheds. These waters and watersheds as identified in 2017 will serve as the baseline from which we assess watershed health and measure progress toward this outcome. 

“Forever Chemicals” in Water Impact Public Health Optional. Estimated reading time 6 minutes.  

In the states that comprise the Chesapeake Bay watershed, an increasing number of sampling sites have detected levels of PFAS and PFOAs, an emerging contaminant with an estimated 5,000 varieties. Some PFAS compounds can travel through groundwater or surface water, move through air, tend to bioaccumulate in the bodies of animals and people who ingest them, and have been shown to cause several types of cancer. While not actively monitored by Bay water groups, the concern over industrial contaminants that impact public health (including PFAS/PFOA, lead, and heavy metals) is likely to become a bigger issue with recent Congressional action to regulate PFAS.  

Why Water Quality Matters

By participating in Hack the Bay, you are exploring an issue that impacts the social good in more ways than one:


Forests & Land – The Chesapeake watershed is roughly 55% forest, 30% agricultural, and 9% suburban and urban use (Source). During the second half of the 20th century, the Bay watershed lost more than 750,000 acres of forestland to development, equating to about 100 acres per day (Source). As a result, wetlands were decimated and natural filters were removed as pavement, or impervious surfaces, were developed, leading to an increase in nutrient and sediment contamination in runoff into the Bay.  

Fish & Wildlife – The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States and provides food, water, protection and nesting areas to more than 3,600 species of migratory and resident wildlife (Source)From the hardwood forests of the Appalachian Mountains to the saltwater marshes of the Bay, there is a vast diversity of life that depends on the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. This includes 29 species of waterfowl, 87 species of water birdsoysters, striped bass (rockfish) and the infamous blue crab (Source)  

Public Health – Polluted runoff causes low oxygen “dead zones’ in the Chesapeake which suffocate marine life and contaminate drinking wells. Recent studies found between 21% - 60% of wells in Pennsylvania’s lower Susquehanna River Basin had nitrate levels exceeding public drinking water standards (Source). Drinking water with too much nitrates can raise the risk of cancer, hemorrhaging of the spleen, and nervous system deformities in infants.  

Economy - The protection and restoration of the Bay and its streams and rivers provide countless opportunities regarding its fishing, tourism, real estate, and shipping industries. The commercial seafood industry in Maryland and Virginia combined equals $3.39 billion in sales, $890 million in income, and nearly 34,000 jobs to the local economy per year (Source). 

Recreation  The Chesapeake Bay watershed covers parts of six states and is home to about 18 million people, including the cities of Washington, D.C, and Baltimore, MD (Source)The watershed’s many rivers provide people with places for eco-tourism and nature-based recreation, including fishing, boating, bird-watching, swimming, water-sports, and other coastal activities.  

Equal Access Clean water, clean air, and a safe environment are the rights of all people. The Bay is fundamental to the social fabric and cultural identity of the mid-Atlantic, as well as a significant economic driver. Under the strategy of environmental justice, clean water initiatives must provide “fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies (Source).  



Are there any age requirements to join the Hackathon?

You must be 18 or older to join the Hackathon. 

Is the Hackathon free to join?

Yes. This event is completely free throughout all stages of the Hackathon. 

Will I be able to use code from previous projects I may have worked on?

Yes, but only if that code is considered open source, and does not branch from any proprietary software or solutions built for or owned by you or your team.

I don't know how to code! Can I still compete?

Yes! This Hackathon is meant to be an inclusive, safe, and most importantly FUN learning environment. Challenge 4 is our least code-intensive track; however, if you're up for the challenge, we encourage you to sign up for whichever track you are most interested in.

Can I prepare anything in advance for the event?

We encourage you and your team members to brainstorm your idea before the event by, for example, making mockups or exploring and cleaning your data. However, no coding or development work can begin until the event officially kicks off.

Do teams have to use any particular language or framework to compete in the Hackathon?

No. Teams are encouraged to use additional tools or technologies they are most comfortable with or, if they want a challenge, something they may not have worked with before. The goal is to have fun, learn something new, and build a better tomorrow.

What if I don't have a team?

You can participate in this event as an individual or with a team! If you prefer to work with a team, register for your chosen challenge and we will place you in a team with other participants that complement your skillsets as best we can.

What if my team is bigger than 6?

Please break down your team to any smaller number than 6

Are there additional resources to collaborate with my teammates?

Yes! We encourage teams to collaborate via the Hack the Bay Slack channel, available here. 

How can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Please contact Valeria Gonzalez at for questions regarding the event.