DEP releases ‘integrated waters’ report

The state Department of Environmental Protection recently released the 2014 Pennsylvania Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report, providing an assessment of the overall water quality of the state’s many creeks, streams, rivers and waterways.

“This report is an important tool to gauge our progress on protecting Pennsylvania’s waters,” DEP Secretary E. Christopher Abruzzo said. “While we have more work to do, this report demonstrates that DEP is working hard to improve water quality.”

The report, required every two years by the federal Clean Water Act, is an assessment of the state’s rivers and streams.

The agency assesses four protected uses of all surface waters: fish consumption, recreation, potable water and aquatic life.

It examines water chemistry, macro-invertebrates, pathogens, iron, nitrates and sulfates.

The report proposes listing or delisting waterways as impaired for the protected uses. This year there are two listing changes.

The Monongahela River, which was impaired for potable water use, will be removed from the impairment list because the in-stream level of sulfates now meets Pennsylvania’s water quality standards.

The lower main stem of the Susquehanna River will be added to the fish consumption impairment list for channel catfish larger than 20 inches due to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The recommended consumption is no more than one meal per month.

The agency has conducted a comprehensive analysis of the Susquehanna River since 2012 and continues to do so in 2014. The 2013 Susquehanna River Study Report will be available in mid-May. A public webinar will take place at that time to discuss the results.

The Integrated Waters Report is now open for a 45-day comment period. After the comment period, comments will be reviewed by the department, changes will be made and a comment response document released.

The agency’s final draft of the report will be sent to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for approval.

Public comments may be made until June 10 and submitted to Molly Pulket, Division of Water Quality Standards, Bureau of Point and Non-Point Source Management, P. O. Box 8774, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8774 or via email to