Water Quality in Half of U.S. Rivers Is ‘Poor,’ EPA Says

The water quality in most U.S. rivers and streams required to support aquatic life is “poor,” with species endangered by increasing pollution and erosion, according to an Environmental Protection Agency survey.

Data from 2,000 rivers and streams in 2008-2009, the most recent figures available, showed 55 percent of waterways to be in “poor condition for aquatic life” with a dearth of vegetation worsening erosion, according to the EPA statement.

“This new science shows that America’s streams and rivers are under significant pressure,” Nancy Stoner, EPA’s acting assistant administrator for water, said in the statement.

Excessive nitrogen was found in 27 percent of the rivers and streams, and high levels of phosphorus were present in 40 percent, according to today’s statement. Such “nutrient pollution” increases algae levels and decreases oxygen required by fish and other aquatic life. Other water bodies showed increases in bacteria and mercury that’s a health risk.