Tag: water pollution

USGS study finds high prevalence of intersex bass in Northeastern U.S. wildlife refuges

Smallmouth bass illegally introduced to Colorado waters threaten native fish.
Bass in and near wildlife refuges in the Northeastern U.S. are gender-confused.

Are endocrine disrupting chemicals to blame?

Staff Report

US Geological Survey researchers say they’re not 100 percent sure if endocrine-disrupting chemicals are to blame, but they’ve found that a full 85  percent of male smallmouth bass and 27 percent of male largemouth bass tested in waters in or near 19 National Wildlife Refuges in the Northeast U.S. were intersex.

Intersex is when one sex develops characteristics of the opposite sex. It is tied to the exposure of fish to endocrine-disrupting chemicals that can affect the reproductive system and cause the development of characteristics of the opposite sex, such as immature eggs in the testes of male fish. Continue reading “USGS study finds high prevalence of intersex bass in Northeastern U.S. wildlife refuges”

How does pharmaceutical pollution affect fish?

The Snake River courses through a boulder field near Keystone. Colorado.
Traces of medicine in freshwater streams have a wide range of impacts on fish.

New study documents wide range of impacts

Staff Report

Fish exposed to remnant traces of medicines, including pain relievers, muscle relaxants and antidepressants, grow more slowly and have a harder time escaping predators, say scientists who carefully studied the effects of pharmaceutical pollutants.

The study analyzed effects from nine individual pharmaceuticals, as well as varying mixtures of these chemicals, on both juvenile and adult fathead minnows. It was conducted by the Aquatic Toxicology Laboratory at St. Cloud State University and the U.S. Geological Survey, with the findings published in a special edition of Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry. Continue reading “How does pharmaceutical pollution affect fish?”

Nitrate pollution remains high in many U.S. rivers

Agricultural runoff has left many major rivers polluted with nitrates.

‘Unfortunately, there is no widespread evidence of improving conditions …’

Staff Report

Massive efforts to improve water quality haven’t been effective in many large U.S. rivers, where nitrate levels remain at high levels after surging in the second half of the 20th century.

Between 1945 and 1980, nitrate levels in large U.S. rivers increased up to fivefold as chemical fertilizer use increased dramatically in the Midwest. In some urbanized areas along the East and West coasts during the same period, river nitrate levels doubled.

In recent decades, nitrate changes have been smaller but nitrate levels have remained high in most of the rivers examined in a new U.S. Geological Survey study. Continue reading “Nitrate pollution remains high in many U.S. rivers”

Environment: Beavers are cooler than you think!

Beavers can help improve water quality by reducing levels of nitrogen. @bberwyn photo.

Beaver ponds remove nitrogen pollution from streams

Staff Report

Long-known as beneficial ecosystem engineers, beavers not only build important wetland habitats for plants and animals, but also help reduce the amount of harmful nitrogen downstream of their ponds.

A team of scientists, led by Arthur Gold at the University of Rhode Island, took a close look at how beavers help reduce pollution. The research is important because nitrogen levels have been increasing in Northeast waters for years. The use of nitrogen fertilizers has risen and urbanization has brought in influences such as septic systems. This nitrogen is released into small streams and ponds and eventually travels to estuaries, where rivers meet the sea. Continue reading “Environment: Beavers are cooler than you think!”

Report says Animas River spill could have been avoided

Hasty excavation without adequate technical info led to disastrous Gold King mine blowout in Colorado

Tainted abandoned mine drainage is common in the mountains of Colorado. Photo courtesy Bureau of Reclamation.

By Bob Berwyn

Federal and state environmental engineers, along with their contractors, misjudged conditions inside the Gold King Mine before they unleashed a toxic flood of water into Cement Creek down the Animas and into the Colorado in early August.

The technical details about the spill were released this week by the Federal Bureau of Reclamation, which did an independent review of the accident.  Most importantly, the workers underestimated the water level inside the mine. That error “resulted in development of a plan to open the mine in a manner that appeared to guard against blowout, but instead led directly to the failure,” the Bureau of Reclamation wrote in the report. Continue reading “Report says Animas River spill could have been avoided”

Public meeting on Animas River spill to be live-streamed

Sampling data after the toxic spill into the Animas River shows spikes in heavy metal concentrations.

Initial sampling shows huge spike in zinc concentrations, which could be bad news for fish

Staff Report

FRISCO — Engineers still have been able to completely staunch the flow of water from a mine portal near Silverton, Colorado, where a major spill sent at least 1 million gallons of polluted water surging into the Animas River.

In its Aug. 8 update, the EPA said the mine adit is still discharging approximately 500 gallons per minute, although the flow is decreasing and a makeshift treatment system of detention ponds appears to be effectively lowering the acidity of the discharge. Continue reading “Public meeting on Animas River spill to be live-streamed”

Animas River pollution surges into New Mexico, Navajo Nation

The Gold King Mine portal that was the source of the massive spill of polution into the Animas River Basin, Photo via EPA.

Pollution plume reaches New Mexico and Navajo Nation

Staff Report

FRISCO — The massive Aug. 5 spill into the Animas River from the Gold King Mine, near Silverton, has turned the river as acidic as black coffee just downstream of the spill site, the EPA reported after evaluating early water quality samples.

According to an EPA Region 9 Emergency Response web page, the spill was triggered when workers trying to clear debris accidentally damaged a makeshift berm that was containing polluted water. Continue reading “Animas River pollution surges into New Mexico, Navajo Nation”