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An impaired stream or lake is one that does not meet the water quality standards for its designated use. The most basic use for all water bodies is the 'Aquatic Life' use and most streams and lakes listed as Category 5 ( described on the previous page) are impaired for this use. Impacts to streams that can degrade conditions include physical effects such as channel alterations, impoundments and sedimentation; as well as chemical impacts from point source or non-point source pollution.
Point source pollution arrives by way of a pipe in most cases, such as an outfall from an industrial plant or a sewage treatment plant. These sources will have permit requirements for their discharge that limit the volume and concentration of pollutants. During the years since the Clean Water Act was passed, point source pollution has been more easily addressed through regualtions and enforcement. Non-point source pollution, however, has proven to be a greater challenge. Many of the causes behind non-point source are the result of land uses based upon economic decisions or are practices that are widespread and seemingly insignificant but damaging when summed over large segments of a watershed.
The major classes of water pollutants are listed below. Some, such as sediment or plant nutrients, most often occur from non-point sources, while others, such as inorganic wastes and heat, are usually point source pollutants.
1. Oxygen-demanding waste - domestic sewage, animal manure, some industrial waste
2. Disease-causing agents - bacteria, viruses, parasites
3. Inorganic wastes/minerals - acids, salts, toxic metals
4. Organic chemicals - pesticides, plastics, detergents, industrial waste
5. Plant nutrients - nitrates and phosphates from fertilizers including manure
6. Sediments - soils, silts, and other solids from land erosion
7. Heat - industrial and power plant cooling systems,stormwater run-off from roofs and parking lots
Water Pollution in Pennsylvania
The Department of Environmental Protection has surveyed 84,867 miles of Pennsylvania streams and 76,984 acres of lakes, assessing for the minimal designated use of supporting aquatic life. Of the surveyed stream, 19.5 % or 16.547 miles do not meet the criteria for supporting aquatic life. The primary problems associated with the impairments are agriculture and abandoned mine drainage, with siltation and metals being the impact stressors, but urban storm water runoff is an increasing problem in many areas.
Lake assessments show that 48.6%, or 37,183 acres, are impaired. The greatest problem source is agriculture and primary stressors are nutrients, suspended solids, and organic enrichment with low dissolved oxygen.
Water Pollution in Bedford County
Bedford County has 2562 miles of assessed streams with 334 miles (13%) impaired. As with Pennsylvania, agriculture and abandoned mine drainage are the major sources of pollution impacts but, in Bedford County, agricultural pollution (sediment and nutrients) effects a greater proportion, about 76% of those impaired miles, or almost 10% of the total county stream miles.
The chart at left shows the relative proportions of the contributing sources of impairment to Bedford County streams. Abandoned mine drainage (AMD) impacts are 12.2% of the impaired stream miles, atmospheric deposition (acid rain) accounts for 8.4%, and run-off from developed areas and storm water sewers, about 2.2%.
The AMD effected watersheds in Bedford County (including Six Mile Run, Sandy Run and Longs Run) are in the northeastern quadrant of the county, in Broad Top Township, and are marked on the map at "1". The acid rain impaired streams in the Flintstone Creek watershed, located in the southcentral part of the county, are at marker "2". While the rain falling in this watershed is no different than that elsewhere in the county, the geology and soils in this watershed provide poor buffering capacity to neutralize the acidity of the precipitation.
The Evitts Creek watershed (3) includes some small tributaries that are impaired by acid rain but most problems in the stream segments upstream of the two water supply reservoirs, Lake Koon and Lake Gordon, are attributable to nutirents and siltation from agriculture. Below the reservoirs, Evitts Creek is negatively impacted by the influence of the impoundments through flow and thermal modifications.
Spicer Brook (4) is a small tributary to the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River near the western border of the county and is listed as impaired by siltation from agriculture but unpaved roads adjacent to the stream also have significant impacts. Stone Creek (5) near Fishertown is effected by nutrients and siltation from agriculture. A small, unnamed tributary (6) to the Raystown is listed as impaired due to nutrients from an industrial point source.
Pipers Run (7) is another small watershed that is adversely effected by siltation from grazing agriculture and agriculture nutrients and siltation are problems for Brush Creek (8) near Breezewood.
Imlertown Run (10) and Pleasant Valley Run (9) are neighboring streams that enter Dunning Creek a short distance north of Bedford near Yount and both are impaired by nutrients and siltation from agriculture. Cumberland Valley Run (11), near Bedford, has problems with siltation from both agriculture and residential runoff. Near Everett, Black Valley Creek and Bloody Run (12) have impairments that are usually associated with more developed or urban areas. Bloody Run is listed for siltation from storm sewers and urban runoff and Black Valley Creek for salinity, total dissolved solids, and chlorides pollution due to storm sewers and urban runoff.
The Yellow Creek watershed (13) is well-known for its trout fishing. From Loysburg upstream in Yellow Creek, and in Beaver Creek, Three Springs Run, Potter Creek and Hickory Bottom Creek siltation and nutrient enrichment from agriculture are significant problems. The Yellow Creek watershed will be the first in Bedford County to have a Total Maximum Daily Load budget for agricultural pollutants developed in accordance with the Clean Water Act, sometime in 2010.
Cove Creek (14) is not displayed in red on the map since it is not listed as a non-attaining stream by DEP but the intensive agriculture in this watershed has contributed to significant siltation in many stream sections, and probable nutrient enrichment effects as well.