Friday, June 26, 2020

DEP Draft 2020 Water Quality Report Found 25,468 Miles Of Streams Have Impaired Water Quality

The Department of Environmental Protection published
notice in the June 27 PA Bulletin inviting comments on the draft 2020 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report.
The report found 25,468 miles of streams in Pennsylvania-- about 30 percent-- have impaired water quality for one or more uses--  water supply (84 miles), aquatic life (17,547 miles), recreation (9,935 miles) or fish consumption (2,817 miles).

The 2016 Water Quality Assessment found 19,900 miles of streams did not meet water quality standards.

The top three major sources of water quality impairment identified in the 2020 report are-- Agricultural runoff 5,765 miles (5,741 miles in 2018 and 6,421 miles in 2016); abandoned mine runoff 5,559 miles (5,576 miles in 2018, 5,595 miles in 2016); and stormwater 3,206 miles (3,066 miles in 2018, 2,902 miles in 2016).

The report also highlights specific efforts in Pennsylvania to restore impaired watersheds. Abandoned mine drainage and sediment pollution from runoff from agricultural, urban, and suburban landscapes have all degraded water quality in many parts of Pennsylvania, and intensive efforts have been made in several key watersheds to restore these natural resources.

“In a state as rich in water resources as Pennsylvania it is important to be able to show people how their local streams, lakes, and rivers are doing,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “The online report lets people focus in on their local waterways to see how healthy they are or what is causing any impairments. Local input on impaired waters can help DEP restore those waterways.”

“In a world now shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is even more important for DEP to make our informational resources available digitally,” said McDonnell. “The 2020 draft of the Integrated Water Report is another step towards making more DEP resources available and accessible.”

Every two years the federal Clean Water Act requires DEP to update its Water Quality Assessment report which evaluates whether waterbodies across Pennsylvania are achieving the water standards that protect clean water.

Streams, lakes, rivers, and other water resources are evaluated on how well each waterway is meeting its assessed use, such as drinking water supply, aquatic life, recreation, and fish consumption.

The report contains lists of streams that have impaired water quality and helps set priorities for restoration of impaired waterbodies.

The draft 2020 Integrated Report continues the new digital and fully interactive format with some enhancements such as a general overview of statistics, better search functionality, video tutorials and direct links to TMDL reports through the mapping interface.

Click Here to view the interactive 2020 Report and two tutorial videos. Questions about the report should be directed to DEP’s Water Quality Division at 717-787-9637 or send email to:

How Clean Is Your Stream?

DEP’s Interactive Report Viewer allows you to zoom in on your own stream or watershed to find out how clean your stream is or if it has impaired water quality using the latest information in the draft 2020 Report.

Comments Invited

In addition to comments of a general nature on the Integrated Report, the Department is seeking comment on the waters listed as high priorities for TMDL development and the waters selected to be restored through alternatives to TMDLs (Category 5alt). 

Comments on the report are due by August 11 and can be submitted via DEP’s eComment webpage or by other methods outlined in the PA Bulletin notice.

Previous Reports

Visit DEP’s Integrated Water Quality Report webpage to view copies of previous Water Quality Assessment Reports.

(Photo: If you can't guess, red is bad.)

Related Articles:

DEP Releases Water Quality Assessment Showing 40% Of PA Streams Polluted By Agriculture, Abandoned Mines, Stormwater Runoff [2018]

EPA Approves Report Showing 19,900 Miles Of Streams, Rivers Are Polluted In Pennsylvania [2016]

[Posted: June 26, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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