Fire Earth

Earth is fighting to stay alive. Mass dieoffs, triggered by anthropogenic assault and fallout of planetary defense systems offsetting the impact, could begin anytime!

Posts Tagged ‘aquatic life’

Legacy of Acid Rain: Rivers Becoming Increasingly Alkaline

Posted by feww on August 28, 2013

River alkalinization threatens water supplies in eastern U-S: Study

Two-thirds of rivers in eastern United States show “significant increasing trends in alkalinity,” according to a new study published by the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

Researchers examined 97 rivers from the northeastern state of New Hampshire down to Florida over the past 25 to 60 years and found significantly higher alkaline content.

The rivers provide drinking water to big cities such as Atlanta, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington, as well as other major metropolises.

“This is because acid rain, acidic mining waste, and agricultural fertilizers speed the breakdown of limestone, other carbonate rocks, and even concrete and cement,” said the researchers. “The result: alkaline particles are washed off of the landscape and into streams and rivers.”

Higher alkaline content in the water can lead to ammonia toxicity and is dangerous for crop irrigation and fish life. It also encourages algal growth and can complicate wastewater and drinking water treatment, as well as causing faster corrosion of metal pipes, the authors said.

Although the airborne pollutants that cause acid rain have somewhat declined in the United States, the legacy of acid rain remains, researchers said.

“The acid rain problem is decreasing. But meanwhile, there are these lagging effects of river alkalinization showing up across a major region of the U.S.,” said lead author, an associate professor and aquatic ecologist at the University of Maryland. “How many decades will river alkalinization persist? We really don’t know the answer.”

“This is another example of the widespread impact of human [activity] on natural systems [which] is, I think, increasingly worrisome,” said study co-author and ecologist Gene Likens of the University of Connecticut.

Related Links

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Most U.S. Rivers, Streams in Poor Condition for Aquatic Life

Posted by feww on March 27, 2013

Thousands of stream and river miles across the country under ‘significant pressure’: EPA

In its first comprehensive survey looking at the health of thousands of stream and river miles across the country, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found more than half – 55 percent – in poor condition for aquatic life.

The 2008-2009 National Rivers and Stream Assessment reflects the most recent data available on the condition of the water resources, EPA said.

[Does that mean the significant degradations that have occurred in the past 5 years not yet taken into account? Moderator]

“The health of our Nation’s rivers, lakes, bays and coastal waters depends on the vast network of streams where they begin, and this new science shows that America’s streams and rivers are under significant pressure,” said Office of Water Acting Assistant Administrator.

The data was collected by EPA, state and tribal researchers from about 2,000 sites across the country.

biocon
National Rivers and Stream Assessment. Biological condition of the nation’s rivers and streams, based on the Macroinvertebrate Multimetric Index (EPA/NRSA).

Indicators Evaluated for NRSA

Biological Indicators

  • Benthic macroinvertebrates
  • Periphyton (algae)
  • Fish community

Chemical Indicators

  • Phosphorus
  • Nitrogen
  • Salinity
  • Acidity

Physical Indicators

  • Streambed sediments
  • In­stream fish habitat
  • Riparian vegetative cover
  • Riparian disturbance

Human Health Indicators

  • Enterococci (fecal indicator)
  • Mercury in fish tissue

The following are excerpts from EPA report:

Runoff Contaminated by Fertilizers

  • Nitrogen and phosphorus are at excessive levels. Twenty-seven percent of the nation’s rivers and streams have excessive levels of nitrogen, and 40 percent have high levels of phosphorus. Too much nitrogen and phosphorus in the water—known as nutrient pollution—causes significant increases in algae, which harms water quality, food resources and habitats, and decreases the oxygen that fish and other aquatic life need to survive. Nutrient pollution has impacted many streams, rivers, lakes, bays and coastal waters for the past several decades, resulting in serious environmental and human health issues, and impacting the economy.

Decreased Vegetation Cover and Increased Human Disturbance

  • Streams and rivers are at an increased risk due to decreased vegetation cover and increased human disturbance. These conditions can cause streams and rivers to be more vulnerable to flooding, erosion, and pollution. Vegetation along rivers and streams slows the flow of rainwater so it does not erode stream banks, removes pollutants carried by rainwater and helps maintain water temperatures that support healthy streams for aquatic life. Approximately 24 percent of the rivers and streams monitored were rated poor due to the loss of healthy vegetative cover.

[Whopping] Increase in Bacteria Levels.

  • Increased bacteria levels. High bacteria levels were found in nine percent of stream and river miles making those waters potentially unsafe for swimming and other recreation (samples exceed an enterococci threshold level for protecting human health.)

Increased Mercury Levels

  • Increased mercury levels. More than 13,144 miles of river lengths (streams were not evaluated) have fish with mercury levels that may be unsafe for human consumption. For most people, the health risk from mercury by eating fish and shellfish is not a health concern, but some fish and shellfish contain higher levels of mercury that may harm an unborn baby or young child’s developing nervous system.

NRSA Sample Sites

NRSA sample sites
National Rivers and Stream Assessment Sample Sites.

Related Links

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“Troubled Waters” by U.S. PRIG

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