Just how clear is the water around Annapolis?
People can measure for themselves at the city's fourth annual Back Creek Wade-In on Saturday.
In this low-tech assessment of water clarity, people wade into the water until they can't see their toes. The water line is then measured on their clothes.
The wade-in is modeled after a similar event started in 1988 by Bernie Fowler, the former Southern Maryland state senator who leads a group into the Patuxent River each year.
At Back Creek, Annapolis Mayor Ellen O. Moyer and other participants will walk into the water.
The event is aimed at raising awareness of city water quality.
"It's a good way to get the public out and about," said Marisa Wittlinger, an environmentalist for the city.
The main event, which begins at 10 a.m. at the Annapolis Maritime Museum, 723 Second St., will be preceded at 9 a.m. by smaller wade-ins at other creeks surrounding the city.
Volunteers will report on the turbidity of their respective creeks when they join the public at the main wade-in, which is expected to last about a half-hour.
Wittlinger warned that the water will be chilly.
"We definitely recommend that people bring a beach towel of some sort and maybe a change of clothes," she said.
Past measurements at Back Creek might reflect rains - which increase turbidity - more than water conditions:
2002: 44 inches (not raining that day).
2003: 31 inches (it rained).
2004: 17 inches (it poured).
The event takes place rain or shine.
"Obviously you are going to get wet anyway," Wittlinger said.