Large U.S. rivers becoming less acidic, finds new study

Sponsored by


July 7, 2014 -- A new study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has found that several large rivers in the United States are currently less acidic due to decreasing acidic inputs, such as industrial waste, acid mine drainage and atmospheric deposition. It indicated that alkalinity, a measurement of a river's capacity to neutralize acid inputs, has increased over the past 65 years in 14 of the 23 rivers assessed.

Reduced acidity levels were especially common in rivers in the Northeast, such as the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers; the Midwest, such as the Illinois and Ohio Rivers; and the Missouri River in the Great Plains.

"Long-term monitoring of stream flow and water quality is essential to track how changes in climate and land use are impacting rivers and how riverine inputs may impact valuable commercial and recreational fisheries in estuaries across the nation," said William Werkheiser, associate director for water. "Increasing alkalinity levels in large rivers across the country since 1945 is a positive trend."

Acidification of U.S. rivers in the early part of the 20th century was mostly associated with these acid inputs, which reduced the alkalinity of some rivers and caused them to become more acidic. Increased alkalinity concentrations in large rivers draining a variety of climate and land-use types in this country are an indicator of recovery from acidification.

By looking at changes in multiple chemicals, scientists conducting the study found that the alkalinity increases were due to decreasing acidic inputs. The reasons for decreased acidic inputs have been diverse and include greater regulation of industrial emissions and waste treatment and increased use of agricultural lime.

"This study shows us that our cumulative management actions over the last half century have reduced acidity levels in U.S. rivers," said lead author Edward Stets, research ecologist at the USGS. "Acidification of rivers that empty into estuaries can adversely impact shell-bearing organisms such as oysters and crabs."

See also:

"Wetlands could be used to improve quality of acid streams, researchers say"

"Ocean acidification has potential to degrade entire ecosystems, finds study"

###

Sponsored by

TODAY'S HEADLINES

CA gov issues executive order on drought; NRDC, Poseidon Water comment on action

California Governor Jerry Brown has announced an executive order that will save water, increase enforcement of wasteful water use, invest in new technologies, and streamline the permitting process for water infrastructure projects such as desalination facilities.

Hong Kong investors pave way for Dais Analytic involvement in China

SAGE Technology Investment and JHSE Technology Investment have announced the equity investment in Dais Analytic Corporation, the creation of Dais New Energy Technology, and a $60-million contract commitment to support the growth of Dais' products in Greater China.

Aqua America appoints new VP, chief environmental officer

Aqua America has announced the promotion of Michael J. Pickel, P.E., to vice president and chief environmental officer for the company.

Ovivo awarded over $20M in contracts for services in North American, European markets

Ovivo recently announced that it has been awarded two significant contracts totaling more than $20 million to provide services in North American and European markets.

FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA