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EPA APPROVES PA. LAKE AND STREAM PROTECTION
Release Date: 4/12/1999
Contact Information: William Toffel (215) 814-5706
PHILADELPHIA - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved Pennsylvania’s plans to restore a lake and several streams that are impaired by chemicals, metals, and nutrients.
The plans were developed by the state Department of Environmental Protection. They set a value called a total maximum daily load, also called a TMDL, for short.
"With these cooperative efforts, significant progress toward making our rivers and lakes fishable and swimmable is becoming a reality," said W. Michael McCabe, EPA regional administrator.
A TMDL is a measurement of the amount of a certain pollutant that can go into (or load) a specific stream and still meet water quality standards. If a lake, river, or stream has an impaired segment, a TMDL can be developed for that segment for each pollutant, like metals, polychlorinated biphenyls or chlordane.
For example, an abandoned mine puts 181 pounds of iron per day into Lorberry Creek, a tributary of Swatara Creek in Dauphin County. The total maximum daily load of iron determined to meet water quality standards is 16 pounds per day.
That means the TMDL for iron in the stream below the abandoned mine is 16 pounds per day. Under Pennsylvania’s TMDL plan, a 90 percent reduction is required in iron loadings to stop the destruction of macro invertebrates -- those small creatures that are food for fish - - and lower pH which affects a fish’s ability to reproduce.
It’s called a total maximum daily load because it identifies the total iron load the river can tolerate on a daily basis at that point without deteriorating below water quality standards, which are set by individual waterways.
Some streams are pristine; others are already degraded. Depending on their use, some water bodies can tolerate more pollution than a pristine trout stream and still meet their water quality standard.
Pennsylvania started the ball rolling by identifying all the impaired waters in the state. Now, the Commonwealth will begin to develop restoration plans by setting TMDLs for each pollutant in the impaired waterways.
Last year EPA approved TMDLs in six Pennsylvania rivers and streams. This year, EPA has approved TMDLs for impaired segments of the following waters:
- Allegheny River, for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and chlordane
Brandywine Creek, for chlordane
Cheat River, for chlordane
Lake Luxembourg, for sediment and nutrients
Monongahela River, for PCB and chlordane
Susquehanna River, for PCBs
Multiple tributaries in the upper Swatara Creek watershed, including segments of Swatara Creek, Lorberry Creek, Stumps Run, Lower Rausch Creek, Middle Rausch Creek, Good Spring Creek, Coal Run, Panther Creek and Polly’s Run, each for metals caused by acid mine drainage.
TMDLs encourage water quality and stream habitat improvement by identifying sources of pollution and calculating reductions needed to allow that water body to meet state water quality standards. Pollution sources include run-off from city streets and farms, and permitted discharges from factories and sewage treatment plants.