The Department of Environmental Protection published notice it has finalized the assessment and listing methodology for determining if the water quality of streams and rivers is impaired in the forthcoming 2016 PA Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report.
The last listing of impaired waters was prepared by DEP in 2014. The report listed nearly 16,000 miles of rivers and streams as having impaired water quality of the 83,438 miles of streams in Pennsylvania-- 19 percent The two biggest contributors to that impairment is agriculture and abandoned mine drainage.
In addition, 37,761 acres of lakes of the 79,986 acres in Pennsylvania-- 47 percent-- are impaired with agriculture being the primary source of impairment.
Lower Susquehanna River
One of the most controversial issues facing DEP is whether or not to list the Lower Susquehanna River as impaired.
DEP Secretary John Quigley has said he expects the list of impaired streams to be available sometime in February and be subject to a 45 day public comment period. Other reports have the list coming out in March.
The 2015 Assessment Methods includes the following documents: Instream Comprehensive Evaluations (ICE), Limestone Streams, Multi-Habitat Pool/Glide Streams, Riffle/Run Freestone Streams, Continuous Instream Monitoring, Periphyton, Streambed Sediment, Surface Water Collection, Semi-Quantitative Fish Sampling protocol, Cause and Effect Surveys, Lake Assessment Protocol, Aquatic Macrophyte Cover, Lake Fisheries, Evaluations of Phosphorus Discharges to Lakes, Ponds, and Impoundments, Plankton Sampling, Chlorophyll A Sampling, Chemistry—Bacteriological Evaluations, Bacteriological Sampling Protocol, Fish Tissue Sampling, Natural Pollutant Sources, Outside agency Data, Appendix A—Sources and Cause Definitions, Appendix B—Taxa Tolerances, Appendix C—Biological Field Methods, Appendix C1—Habitat, Appendix C2—Benthic Macroinvertebrates, Appendix C3—Fish and Appendix C4—Taxonomic Reference.
DEP said it its notice the proposed Nutrient Impact Assessment Protocol for Wadeable Streams is not available because it is not being finalized at this time.
During the public comment period for the methodology, the Department only received comments pertaining to the NIAP. For this reason, the Department is currently reviewing and assessing these public comments and will provide further notice of any finalization of the NIAP document.
The final methodology and related documents will be posted on DEP’s website.
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