EPA: More Than Half Of Nation's Rivers in 'Poor Condition' for Aquatic Life

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A new survey from the Environmental Protection Agency indicates that more than half of America's rivers and streams contain water that is in "poor condition for aquatic life," with increasing pollution and erosion endangering several species.

The EPA assessed data from 2,000 rivers and streams in 2008-2009, the most recent figures available, which showed 55 percent of waterways to be in poor biological health, unable to support healthy populations of aquatic insects and other creatures.

Only 23 percent were in "fair shape," with 21 percent in good biological health.

"This new science shows that America's streams and rivers are under significant pressure," said Nancy Stoner, acting administrator of the EPA's Office of Water.

The healthiest streams and rivers were in Western mountain areas, where only 26 percent were classified as in poor condition.

The report blames high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen, mainly due to runoff from urban areas. Such "nutrient pollution" increases algae levels and decreases the oxygen that fish and other aquatic life depend on for survival.

It was about this time last year that Citydesk reported that the City of Boise had received new permits from the EPA that mandated a radical reduction of phosphorous that makes its way to the Boise River.

In August 2011, BW first told you about the new guidelines that include never-before-seen restrictions on phosphorous and water temperature. As a result, the city bumped up sewer rates to pump $5 million into Boise's wasterwater treatment facilities, as part of a long-term plan that could cost up to $50 million over the next five years.

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