News Updates...ACAL News – Week of 29 June 2007
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) website http://www.dec.ny.gov/61.html states that New York contains “70,000 miles of rivers and streams, 4,000 lakes and ponds, 2.4 million acres of wetlands, and 210 billion gallons of ground water used annually.”
Know for its excessive amounts of snow and rainfall, the Tug Hill Plateau Region includes several of New York’s 54 total watersheds, including the Black River, and Oswegatchie and Raquette (St. Lawrence River).
According to a June 2006 report on impaired waters, the DEC stated, “The Federal Clean Water Act requires states to periodically assess and report on the quality of waters in their state. Section 303(d) of the Act also requires states to identify Impaired Waters.”
Information obtained from the 2004 Section 303(d) List Fact Sheet for New York from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website http://iaspub.epa.gov/waters/state_rept.control?p_state=NY, indicates that 47 of the 54 watersheds in the state contain 792 reported impaired waters. Of the 47 watersheds in this EPA report, one includes more impaired waters than the second and third most combined: the Black River Watershed.
Black River Watershed = 175 impaired waters
Southern Long Island = 86
Oswegatchie = 80
Raquette = 47
Northern Long Island = 40
What is most alarming, is that all three watersheds located in the Tug Hill Plateau region contain the most impaired waters in all of New York, with the exception of Southern Long Island, which contains less than half of the total in the Black River Watershed. Additionally, it is important to point out that Southern and Northern Long Island watersheds both include the Atlantic Ocean, not streams, rivers, lakes and ponds.
Overall, New York’s impaired waters suffer mostly from the following top 10 problems: pH (mostly acid rain), PCB’s, pathogens (from bacterium, virus, or other microorganism that can cause disease), nutrients (minerals), mercury, pesticides, oxygen depletion, dioxins (a highly toxic compound produced as a byproduct in some manufacturing processes, notably herbicide production and paper bleaching), sediment, and metals other than mercury (cooper, lead, zinc).
The causes for water impairment in the Black River watershed include pH problems, mercury, DDT, and PCB’s. Fourth Lake, located in Inlet, Herkimer County, is the only water source within the watershed that contains DDT, which apparently entered the lake from streams exposed to pesticides. Kelsey Creek, which runs along Rt. 12E and the intersection of Rt. 11 in Jefferson County, contains PCB’s, which have been present for over 10 years, but were not identified until 2002.
It is clear that further environmental protection is needed for water sources contained within the Tug Hill Plateau region, where 38% of all state impaired waters are located. What is most disconcerting is that if the streams, rivers, lakes and ponds are impaired, what is the present condition of the groundwater, which many citizens drink?
Until further investigation can be completed regarding the DEC’s action to remedy the impaired waters of Upstate New York, citizens must take action now to protect their water sources.
• When fishing, swimming, boating and picnicking near water, please do not throw food,
debris and containers into the water.
• If you see litter in or near a water source, please pick it up and dispose of properly.
• If you see or smell anything abnormal in or entering a lake, pond, stream, or river,
please contact the local municipality, park ranger, and/or Region 6 DEC in Watertown
• Never dispose of gasoline, oil or other toxins by pouring them on the ground. These
toxins will either be absorbed into the soil and risk entering ground water, or can be
washed into nearby wells.
Citizen involvement and participation can be the most powerful resource the state has to keep our water clean and pure. Please do your part to keep the Tug Hill Plateau safe for future generations.
Director of Communications
Adirondack Communities Advisory League (ACAL)
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