Tuesday, October 24, 2023

DEP 2024 Water Quality Report Shows 28,820 Miles Of Streams With Impaired Water Quality In PA (34%) - An Increase From 27,886 In 2022

The Department of Environmental Protection invites comments on the draft 2024 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring Report for public comment showing just over one-third (34%) of Pennsylvania’s streams-- 28,820 miles-- have impaired water quality.  (formal notice)

That’s an increase from the 2022 report which found 27,886 miles of water quality impaired streams making them unsafe for aquatic life, recreation, fish consumption or water supply.

The Water Quality Report includes the accumulated results of water quality stream assessments and reassessments throughout the Commonwealth.

The report also includes the latest list of those streams and rivers that do not meet one or more of applicable water quality standards-- the Section 303(d).

Causes Of Stream Impairment

The four major sources of water quality impairment identified in the 2024 report are-- Agriculture- 8,179 miles; Acid Mine Drainage- 5,607 miles; Urban Runoff/Storm Sewers- 3,838 miles; and Atmospheric Deposition- 2,518 miles.

Click Here for a spreadsheet showing all sources of impairment.

Comparing it to the final 2022 report on major sources-- Agricultural Runoff-- 6,432 miles; Abandoned Mine Runoff-- 5,536 miles; Urban Runoff/Storm Sewers-- 3,507 miles; and Atmospheric Deposition- 2,518.

The 2020 report found the major sources of impaired water quality were-- Agricultural Runoff 5,765 miles; Abandoned Mine Runoff 5,559 miles; and Stormwater Runoff 3,206 miles.

Top 25 Counties

The 2024 Report found these counties had the most miles of impaired streams-- 

Lancaster- 1,330 (92.5%); Elk- 1,126 (68.4%); Chester- 1,123 (79.3%); Franklin- 928 (54.8%); Allegheny- 923 (67.5%); York- 904 (54.1); Berks- 836 (65.5%); Bucks- 799 (69.1%); Dauphin- 755 (69.6%); Clarion- 749 (60.5%); Westmoreland- 732 (32.8%); Northumberland- 698 (73.5%); Clearfield- 697 (35.7%); Washington- 682 (34.1%); Montgomery- 678 (79.1%); Adams- 628 (49%); Indiana- 598 (32%); Somerset- 584 (27.4%); Schuylkill- 565 (54.3%); Warren- 556 (32.2%); Erie- 529 (27.5%); Crawford- 516 (19.7%); Perry- 504 (46%); Cumberland- 483 (61.6%); and Butler- 460 (29.1%).

Click Here for a spreadsheet showing all county by county impaired stream totals.

              The online StoryMap for the report has lots of information and opportunities to take a deep dive into the stream assessment data DEP has collected.

              Click Here to review the draft 2024 Water Quality Report StoryMap.

Check Streams Near You

The draft 2024 report has an interactive report viewer that allows you to zoom in to your own address to see if the streams near you are impaired and why.

Click Here to check out your streamsClick Here for a tutorial on using the viewer.

Public Comments

DEP published a formal notice in the October 28 PA Bulletin starting a 45-day public comment period on the 2024 Integrated Water Quality Report.  The deadline for comments will be ending on December 11.

Comments can be submitted through DEP’s eComment webpage or other methods that will be outlined in the PA Bulletin notice.

For more information, including past reports, visit DEP’s Integrated Water Quality Report webpage. Questions should be directed to DEP’s Water Quality Division at 717-787-9637 or send an email to  RA-epwater@pa.gov

(Map: Orange is bad - impaired water quality.)

NewsClips - Watersheds:

-- Wilkes-Barre Times: Earth Conservancy Receives $17.5 Million DEP Federal Abandoned Mine Lands Grant For Restoration Of Nanticoke Creek

-- LancasterOnline: Conewago, Conowingo, Pequea Creek Watersheds Gain State Funds For Pollution Cleanup

-- LancasterOnline: 80 PA Farms Eligible For Conservation Practices Grants, Including Lancaster County Poultry Farms 

-- Republican Herald: DEP Awards Grants To 2 Projects In Schuylkill County For Restoring Health Of Local Watersheds

-- York Dispatch: Chesapeake Bay Faces Water Quality Setback Following Recent Lawsuit Settlement

-- Middle Susquehanna RiverKeeper: 500+ Learn About River Thru 2023 Floating Classroom Programs

-- Middle Susquehanna RiverKeeper Blog: Partnership Can Foster New Opportunities At Montour Preserve For Those Willing To Get Creative

-- Williamsport Sun: Final Middle Susquehanna RiverKeeper Floating Classroom Focused On Raptors

Related Articles - Watersheds:

-- Bay Journal: Accepting Leadership Gavel, Maryland Governor Vows New Approach Toward Chesapeake Bay Watershed Cleanup - By Jeremy Cox, Chesapeake Bay Journal    [PaEN]

-- Middle Susquehanna RiverKeeper, Partners Establish ‘Vernal School’ To Support The Montour Preserve In Montour County  [PaEN] 

-- Buffalo Creek Coalition: Dec. 7 One Day Hybrid Summit - Buffalo Creek Confluence: Coming Together For Shared Solutions  [PaEN] 

-- USGS Pennsylvania Water Science Center Newsletter: PFAS ‘Forever Chemicals;’ Orphan Oil & Gas Wells; Hurricane Ida Impacts; More!  [PaEN]

[Posted: October 24, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

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