EPA Declares More Than Half Of U.S. Rivers Unfit For Aquatic Life


Our world is so gross right now. Via Inhabitat:

The EPA has declared that an astounding 55 percent of rivers and streams in the country are in “poor condition for aquatic life.”

The results of their first comprehensive survey of waterway health reveal shrinking vegetation cover, high levels of phosphorous and nitrogen, and pollution from mercury and bacteria—none of which are all that great for human health either. Additionally, as the EPA emphasizes, the polluted, unhealthy waterways include vital sources of drinking water.

So where are these contaminants coming from? Phosphorous and nitrogen, both key ingredients in fertilizer, have long been recognized as a problem in US water health. 40 percent of waterways surveyed had high levels of phosophorous, while high levels of nitrogen were found in 27 percent of waterways.

Over 13,144 miles of waterways featured levels of mercury that similarly exceed safe levels for human health, making it ill-advised to consume fish from those areas.

  • emperorreagan

    I did some land surveying while in grad school in suburban areas. We did several streams. We were wading in and doing depth measurements for cross sections.

    I was astounded how little life there was in them. We might see a single turtle or something during an entire day’s worth of work. Nothing like I remembered from the areas I hiked as a teenager.

    • Ted Heistman

      Its one reason invasive species are taking off.

      • BuzzCoastin

        anything that can survive in the present water table
        isn’t invasive
        it’s adaptive

        • http://singedrac.livejournal.com Singe

          ‘invasive’ means non-native species that have no evolutionary checks and balances because they come from an entirely different environment (which did have them).

          • BuzzCoastin

            if that’s so then
            corn is the most invasive plant known to man
            it covers at least 60% of arable land
            has no evolutionary checks and balances
            because it comes from an entirely different environment
            the Monsanto lab

          • charlotte9

            Yeah, I’m going to agree with BuzzCoastin…we already screwed up everything “natural” anyway, so whatever survives is our only hope at preserving “nature”, anyway…besides, kudzu cures alcoholism and dandelions heal your liver…two “invasive” (introduced) species that I happen to find very useful. >_>

          • gustave courbet

            I think Singe was pointing out that ‘invasive’ is a technical term in biology meaning a none-native species that is displacing native species and reducing biodiversity. And while corn doesn’t qualify because it is being actively grown by humans, it is a tremendously destructive component of the agracultural-industrial complex that’s essentially doing the same thing as invasive species.

          • charlotte9


            Kudzu and dandelions (the only examples I used) both fit your definition of this technical biology term.

    • BuzzCoastin

      the water situation globally is critical
      only about 3% of all water is useable by animals & plants
      a significant amount of that is already polluted
      water has a higher value than gasoline right now

      • BuzzCoastin

        chart of water resources by % allocation

      • emperorreagan

        Yeah, it was just amazing to see first-hand. I spent most of my teens hiking in eastern Idaho. There was tons of life in the desert, up in the woods, or wherever I went.

        To move to the east coast and stand waist deep in waders in a stream and not see or hear any life whatsoever was still shocking, in spite of everything I’d read about environmental issues.

  • Anarchy Pony


  • Monkey See Monkey Do

    GMO plants now, GMO fish later.

  • Ted Heistman

    Its all run off from industrial agriculture. Industrial Mono-cropping destroy topsoil.

    • BuzzCoastin

      fracking is doing it’s part too

  • mannyfurious

    What a bunch of babies. Sure the rivers are ruined, but look at all the wealth that has trickled down to the rest of us from all the money made from that pollution….

    • echar

      Don’t forget all the jobs that will be created by cleaning it up. It’s win – win!

  • Town Destroyer

    When will the world finally just switch over to apocalypse mode? I’m waiting for it to happen. Come on death

    • BuzzCoastin

      where you been?
      we’re in apocalypse mode right now

  • BuzzCoastin

    that’s only the half of it
    and not even the worst of it

  • Anarchy Pony

    But can you set the rivers on fire? No? Progress!

  • Guest

    what is the original source for this story? ideally from the EPA. anyone have a link?