C REEK C ONNECTIONS. Water Pollution in Pennsylvania. Box 10, Allegheny College, Meadville, PA 16335. http://creekconnections.allegheny.edu. Why is water important?. 75 % of the Earth’s surface is water
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CREEK CONNECTIONS Water Pollution in Pennsylvania Box 10, Allegheny College, Meadville, PA 16335 http://creekconnections.allegheny.edu
Why is water important? • 75 % of the Earth’s surface is water • 2/3 of the human body is water; the bodies of other organisms are also made up mostly of water • Need water for just about everything
What is water pollution? • Definition: An undesirable change in the physical, chemical, or biological characteristics of a body of water that can negatively affect the health, survival, or activities of humans and other living things • Unpolluted waterways provide food, water, shelter and ideal chemical conditions for certain aquatic organisms and drinking water for humans use. Streams, rivers, lakes and reservoirs that can no longer support the aquatic life that they once did are considered to be “degraded” or “impaired”.
Water Pollution in PA 20% of streams and 15% of lakes surveyed by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) are impaired or polluted. Some of these waterways contain some fish and other aquatic organisms, but the aquatic communities that once lived there have been severely damaged.
Types of Water Pollution POINT SOURCE NON-POINT SOURCE
Point Source Pollution • Definition: Pollution entering a waterway from a specific, discrete, identifiablepoint, such as a pipe or channel. • Examples:
Non-point Source Pollution (NPS) • Definition: Pollution that enters a waterway indirectly and comes from diffuse, not concentrated, and difficult to identify sources. Also referred to as “polluted runoff”, i.e., water that runs over the land, picks up pollutants along the way, and carries them into waterways. • 78% of Pennsylvania’s water pollution is NPS • NPS is the nation’s largest water quality problem Source: “Water Pollution” by Hon A. Arway
Non-point Source Pollution (NPS) • Examples:
What does aquatic life need to survive and how does water pollution affect aquatic life? Requirements for aquatic life: • Temperature in tolerance range • pH in tolerance range • Dissolved oxygen level in tolerance range • Food • Shelter Water pollution alters the levels or nature of these requirements, negatively affecting aquatic life.
Temperature in tolerance range At temperatures outside an organism’s tolerance range… • metabolism, reproduction and growth are affected; • dissolved oxygen levels are affected. Small gradual changes OK; sudden temperature changes (thermal pollution) cause death or severe stress on organisms.
Dissolved oxygen levels in tolerance range • Aquatic life needs oxygen for respiration as much as humans do. • Aquatic organisms usually get their oxygen by absorbing oxygen that is dissolved in water through their gills or skin. • 6.5 mg/L DO is generally the minimum for aquatic life to survive without stress. At dissolved oxygen levels outside an organism’s tolerance range… • metabolism, reproduction and growth are affected; • the organism becomes stressed or dies.
pH in tolerance range Source: “The Basics of Water Pollution in Pennsylvania” What is pH? • pH is a measure of the acidity [hydrogen ion (H+) concentration] of a substance. • Scale: 0-14 (0<pH<7 is acidic; 7 is neutral; 7<pH<14 is basic ) • Change in pH of one whole number = 10X increase At pH levels outside an organism’s tolerance range… • gills can be damaged or sodium levels disrupted; • aquatic life dies or becomes severely stressed; • Below 5.5, metals start to dissolve. Aquatic life cannot survive in waters with significant metal concentrations. Metal particles can also settle to waterway bottoms, smothering eggs, macroinvertebrates and food for fish and also filling in habitat.
Food • All organisms need food • Organisms are connected in the food web—changes to one organism affect many others. • Bioaccumulation Source: “The Basics of Water Pollution in Pennsylvania”
Shelter • Shelter from: • currents • predators • Safe places for: • eggs to be laid • eggs to develop • metamorphosis • Shelter provided by: • vegetation • waterway substrate • Water pollutants can disrupt shelter by: • Sediment fills in crevices, smothering fish and macro eggs • Pesticides kill off vegetation • Fertilizers cause overgrowth
Effects of Nutrients on Waterways • Fertilizers and manure contain nitrogen and phosphorous cause vegetation to grow • OK and necessary in moderation (P is limiting factor in aquatic ecosystems); at higher doses, stimulate excessive growth of aquatic plants and algae (“algal bloom”) • Algal blooms can be a nuisance but “eutrophication” is the real problem: algae dies decomposers use oxygen to break down dead algaeDO levels drop Source: http://nutrients.ifas.ufl.edu/Scope/eutrophication.jpg
#1: Abandoned Mine Drainage (AMD) & Resource Extraction • Over ½ of degraded waterways in PA due to AMD and resource extraction • Iron pyrite-containing “overburden” combines with oxygen and water to form sulfuric acid • Runoff or groundwater carries sulfuric acid into waterways lowers pH • Recall effects of low pH Source: “The Basics of Water Pollution in Pennsylvania”
#1: Abandoned Mine Drainage (AMD) & Resource Extraction • “Yellow-boys”, white or black coating • Other resource extraction issues: • Increased erosion • Increased siltation & sedimentation (mining and roads) • Oil spills Source: “The Basics of Water Pollution in Pennsylvania”
#2: Agriculture • Agriculture is the #1 industry in PA • 15% of degraded streams in PA due to agriculture • Runoff picks up soil, manure, fertilizers and pesticides and carries them into waterways • Livestock trample stream banks and defecate in waterways Source: PFBC file photo • Recall effects of sediment, nutrients, and toxins • Waterborne illnesses if drinking water contaminated
Other Sources of Pollution • Municipal Point Sources (Sewage) • 5% of PA’s water pollution • Solids, nutrients, metals, pesticides, other chemicals, and heat (recall effects on aquatic life and threats to humans) • Wastewater treatment can remove up to 99% of contaminants but facilities sometimes malfunction or are overwhelmed • Faulty septic systems are more problematic • Other Non-Point Sources • 5% of PA’s water pollution • Municipal waste (garbage)-9 million tons/year • Hazardous, near-hazardous and radioactive waste • Construction site runoff
Other Sources of Pollution • Industrial Point Sources (Polluted Discharge) • 4% of PA’s water pollution • 25 PA Code Chapter 93 – water quality standards for industrial discharge depending on waterway’s uses • Urban Runoff/Storm Sewers • 1% of PA’s water pollution • Salt, sand, soil, oil, gas, grease, etc.
Acid Deposition • 1% of PA’s water pollution • pH > 5.6 =normal rain • pH < 5.6 =acid rain • Average PA rain pH=4.0-4.1 Acid Deposition Chemistry Water vapor + SOx and NOx + Sun = Sulfuric acid and/or nitric acid (+ water) = acid precipitation or dry acid deposition (nitric acid and sulfuric acid particles) Source: “The Basics of Water Pollution in Pennsylvania” -PFBC
Acid Deposition • PA streams receive the highest amount of acid deposition in the country! • Impacts similar to AMD but severity depends on location and stream geology • Destroys more than just streams
Water Pollution Regulations & Prevention FEDERAL • Federal Clean Water Act (1972) • Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (1984) PENNSYLVANIA • 25 PA Code Chapter 93-Great Lakes Initiative water quality standards for industrial discharge depending on waterway’s uses • Clean Streams Law (1937) • Sewage Facilities Act (1966) • Sewage Treatment Plant & Water Works Operators Certification Act (1968) • Dam Safety and Encroachments Act (1978) • PENNVEST (1988) • Phosphate Detergent Act (1989) • Storage Tank & Spill Prevention Act (1989) • Chesapeake Bay Agreement of 1987 • Delaware Estuary Agreement of 1988 • Great Lakes Agreement of 1989 • Nutrient Management Act
What can YOU do to prevent water pollution? • Contact your regional DEP office if you see evidence of water pollution • NW PA – (814) 332-6945 • SW PA – (412) 442-4000 • Learn about water pollution issues in your community and get involved (http://www.scorecard.org/env-releases/water/community.tcl) • Use compost and IPM instead of chemical fertilizers and pesticides • Dispose of hazardous water properly – don’t just wash it down the drain or storm sewer • Keep your yard vegetated • Preserve wetlands and riparian buffers • Fence livestock out of streams • Dispose of trash properly - don’t litter • Wash cars on lawn • Conserve electricity and drive less • Buy a fishing license • Creek Connections! • Spread the word
Bibliography “Acid Rain.” Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. On-line: http://sites.state.pa.us/PA_Exec/Fish_Boat/acidrain.htm Arway, John A. “Water Pollution.” Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission “The Basics of Water Pollution in Pennsylvania.” Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission. On-line: http://sites.state. pa.us/Fish/education/catalog/waterpollutionpa.pdf “Canaries and Trout: What’s the Connection.” Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. “Stream Killer.” Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. “Water Pollution Control in PA.” Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. On-line: http://www.dep.state.pa.us/dep/subject/pubs/water/wqm/FS0391.pdf
Presentation Credits The “Water Pollution in Pennsylvania” presentation was created by: Nicole Mason, Project Coordinator Creek Connections Box 10, Allegheny College Meadville, PA 16335 2004 Creek Connections is a watershed education project located at Allegheny College, Meadville, PA that partners with regional middle and high schools to do water quality monitoring and waterway research projects. For more information about Creek Connections: http://creekconnections.allegheny.edu Illustration and picture sources are listed on individual slides. Presentation created for educational purposes only. NOT FOR SALE. Feel free to use in your classroom, but do not mass distribute without permission of Creek Connections.