55% of streams and rivers rated poor

decrease font size  Resize text   increase font size       Printer-friendly version of this article Printer-friendly version of this article

Fifty-five percent of the nation’s rivers and streams do not support healthy populations of aquatic life, with phosphorus and nitrogen pollution and poor habitat being main culprits for these river and stream miles being rated in poor biological condition, according to a recently released Environmental Protection Agency assessment.   

The National Rivers and Streams Assessment (NRSA) 2008-2009 Draft Report was released for public comment by the Environmental Protection Agency. Comments are due to nrsa-hq@epa.gov by May 9, 2013.

Additionally a free webcast on the findings of the NRSA 2008-2009 will be held on April 3, 2013.

This draft report is one of a series of aquatic resource assessments being conducted by the EPA along with states and tribes. The lag time between data collection and the report is obvious from the dating—2008-2009—in the report title.

The assessment of rivers and streams found that only 23 percent of them are in fair condition and 21 percent are rated as in good condition.

An explanation of how and why the assessments was provided by the EPA. “Often referred to as probability-based surveys, these studies provide nationally consistent and scientifically-defensible assessments of our nation's waters and can be used to track changes in condition over time. The surveys use standardized field and lab methods and is designed to yield unbiased estimates of the condition of the whole water resource being studied,” the EPA intro explains.

The good, fair and poor ratings are based on biological indexed ratings. The biological rating is based on an index that combines different measures of “aquatic macroinvertebrates” (aquatic insects and creatures such as crayfish).   

The EPA blames phosphorus and nitrogen pollution for much of the negative water quality. Forty percent of the nation’s river and stream miles have high levels of phosphorus, and 27 percent have high levels of nitrogen.

Nutrient pollution is mentioned extensively in a summary fact sheet. “Biological communities” are at increased risk because of high phosphorus and nitrogen pollution. The nutrient pollution is blamed on excess fertilizers, wastewater and other sources, which causes algae blooms, low oxygen levels and more.

Quality of the rivers and streams is also being destroyed by “poor vegetative cover and high levels of human disturbance” near the waterways. Disturbance is resulting in erosion and streambed sediments, “which can smother the habitat where many aquatic organisms live or breed.”

Ratings show that more eastern rivers and streams are in poor condition as a whole than elsewhere in the U.S. The nation is divided into nine “ecological regions.” Northern Appalachians (New England) has 57 percent of its streams and rivers in poor condition. The Southern Appalachians (Mid-Atlantic and South outside of the Atlantic coast) has 65 percent of its river and stream miles in poor condition. The largest percentage of poor rivers and stream miles occurs in the Coastal Plains (Southeast Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas) at 71 percent poor.

The Mississippi River and Illinois River basins have received a lot of attention about having high levels of nutrient pollution in rivers, but the Temperate Plains area that includes these basins only has a 55 percent poor quality rating.

The river and stream miles rated at poor for other regions are Upper Midwest, 59 percent; Northern Plains, 33 percent; Southern Plains, 41 percent; and Western Mountains (Pacific Northwest) at 26 percent. The Xeric region covers most of the area west of the Rocky Mountains and had a poor rating of 43 percent of its river and stream miles.

The summary fact sheet suggests that the biggest human health concern is mercury in fish. More than 13,000 miles of rivers are stipulated as “having mercury in fish tissue at levels that exceed thresholds protective of human health.”

The only comparison for the NRSA 2008-2009 quality is to the 2004 Wadeable Streams Assessment. In comparison, the 2008-2009 assessment shows 7 percent fewer streams are in good biological condition, 19 percent fewer stream miles are in good condition for phosphorus but 9 percent more stream miles are in good condition for nitrogen.





Prev 1 2 Next All

Buyers Guide

Doyle Equipment Manufacturing Co.
Doyle Equipment Manufacturing prides themselves as being “The King of the Rotary’s” with their Direct Drive Rotary Blend Systems. With numerous setup possibilities and sizes, ranging from a  more...
A.J. Sackett Sons & Company
Sackett Blend Towers feature the H.I.M, High Intensity Mixer, the next generation of blending and coating technology which supports Precision Fertilizer Blending®. Its unique design allows  more...
R&R Manufacturing Inc.
The R&R Minuteman Blend System is the original proven performer. Fast, precise blending with a compact foot print. Significantly lower horsepower requirement. Low inload height with large  more...
Junge Control Inc.
Junge Control Inc. creates state-of-the-art product blending and measuring solutions that allow you to totally maximize operating efficiency with amazing accuracy and repeatability, superior  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The flagship blending system for the Layco product line is the fully automated Layco DW System™. The advanced technology of the Layco DW (Declining Weight) system results in a blending  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The LAYCOTE™ Automated Coating System provides a new level of coating accuracy for a stand-alone coating system or for coating (impregnating) in an automated blending system. The unique  more...
John Deere
The DN345 Drawn Dry Spreader can carry more than 12 tons of fertilizer and 17.5 tons of lime. Designed to operate at field speeds up to 20 MPH with full loads and the G4 spreader uniformly  more...
Force Unlimited
The Pro-Force is a multi-purpose spreader with a wider apron and steeper sides. Our Pro-Force has the most aggressive 30” spinner on the market, and is capable of spreading higher rates of  more...
BBI Spreaders
MagnaSpread 2 & MagnaSpread 3 — With BBI’s patented multi-bin technology, these spreaders operate multiple hoppers guided by independent, variable-rate technology. These models are built on  more...

Related Articles

Comments (0) Leave a comment 

e-Mail (required)


characters left

1325 Bushel Grain Cart

Equipped with a 22” computer balanced auger with 5/16” flighting,the unloading speed is 50% faster than smaller grain carts with ... Read More

View all Products in this segment

View All Buyers Guides

Feedback Form
Feedback Form