The U.S Environmental Protection Agency has approved Pennsylvania’s 2014 Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment report for streams, rivers and lakes across the state.
According to Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Amanda Whitman, the report is required every two years by the federal Clean water Act.
“Pennsylvania has roughly 86,000 stream miles and compiling this report, collecting the data, analyzing that data and producing the report is a significant accomplishment,” Whitman said.
When they sample the water they are looking for a variety of pollutants.
“We’re looking for sulfates," Whitman said. "We’re looking for total dissolved solids. We’re looking for PCBs. We’re looking for emerging contaminants, and again those parameters change based on the type of assessment that’s being conducted on any given waterway.”
She said the “rigorous sampling” of the state’s waterways has not changed since the beginning of Marcellus Shale drilling.
“This is probably the third or fourth assessment in which the impact of Marcellus drilling would be included,” Whitman said, “and we have seen no change in the water quality pre- or post-Marcellus based on these two-year reports.”
One big change in this report is the removal of the Monongahela River from the impairment list for potable water use.
“For the past six years in the Mon River sample results have not shown an exceedance of water quality criteria for sulfates or total dissolved solids, and when we’re talking about potable water that is something we’re looking at quite heavily,” Whitman said.
She said the samples were taken at multiple sites along the Mon.
However, the news for the lower main stem of the Susquehanna was not as good. That stretch of the river was added to the fish consumption impairment list for channel catfish larger than 20 inches due to PCBs.
According to Whitman, 333 miles of streams and rivers have been removed from the impaired list and 853 acres of lakes have been restored since the 2012 report.
“We’re definitely seeing from a statewide perspective a positive trend in water quality,” Whitman said, “and we look forward to more positive trends in our next report.”