More than half of U.S. rivers and streams are in poor health, U.S. EPA said in a report released today.
The National Rivers and Streams Assessment (click here) is the agency’s first comprehensive survey of waterway health, and it features surveys done by more than 85 field crews during the summers of 2008 and 2009.
Technicians sampled water at 1,924 sites, ranging from mountain headwater streams to the mighty Mississippi River. EPA said the sites were selected using a random sampling technique to ensure that the results reflected the full variety of river and stream types across the nation.
The survey found 55 percent of rivers and streams in poor biological condition, based on measurements of aquatic insects and creatures such as crayfish, while 21 percent were in good condition.
The culprits were not surprising. Forty percent of rivers and streams were found to have high levels of phosphorus, and 28 percent had excessive levels of nitrogen. The nutrients — washed from farms, parking lots and wastewater facilities — feed massive algae growth that sucks up dissolved oxygen as it decomposes, smothering or driving away aquatic life.
The study also found nearly a quarter of the nation’s streams and rivers lack healthy vegetative cover and buffers. Trees and bushes growing along rivers and streams help control flooding and erosion, soak up pollution, and control water temperatures.
Now is the time to get involved! Those leading types of pollution – nutrients, poor buffers & vegetative cover – are exactly the types of issues Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper works to address. Becoming a member means your donation will immediately be put to work on hard-hitting programs that will make a difference in the coming year. Please visit our “Join Us” page to become a member today and help us keep our waterways clean!