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Acid Rain and Un-surveyed streams

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Posted on: 2013/8/1 13:50


Re: Acid Rain and Un-surveyed streams

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Nice read Chaz.

The way I understand it, many old power plants were grandfathered in the clean air act because they were "scheduled" for closure anyway, but they are all still in operation because it is cheaper to keep those going than to build new ones.

Just sayin. It's all about economics.

I personally would have no problem paying more for my electricity if it meant closing those down. I've already reduced my consumption considerably.

I know the area that this guy is talking about, and it is as bad as it sounds.

Posted on: 2013/8/1 15:44
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Re: Acid Rain and Un-surveyed streams

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That's right, and as long as it's profibable for them to buy cheap coal and get water for free they will keep those power plants running if they aren't forced to clean them up. On the other hand how long should they be grandfathered, the Clean Air Act was signed into law 1972.

Posted on: 2013/8/1 17:23
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It's time to stop stocking all wild trout streams no matter what Classification they are, and time to eradicate brown trout in some of our limestone streams and re-establish brookies in them.


Re: Acid Rain and Un-surveyed streams

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I don't believe the older plants have been grandfathered against all pollution regulations. I know of a number of older plants that have had extensive pollution control modifications over the years.

Posted on: 2013/8/1 20:12


Re: Acid Rain and Un-surveyed streams

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2013/5/28 12:09
From Lilly, PA
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Acid rain??? Im not saying its not a contributor, but it sounds more like an acidic drainage to me which may or may not be associated with coal mining in the area.

Do the headwaters form in a acidic bedrock formation? He states that rainwater passes through soil and bedrock and dissolves minerals that raise pH and buffers the water. Guess what, water can also dissolve acid forming minerals just as easily with or without mining being present. Pyrite is the most common acid forming mineral and is in abundance in sedimentary bedrock of all types.

Posted on: 2013/8/1 22:21
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Re: Acid Rain and Un-surveyed streams

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PA,

There are many drainages in PA which still suffer from acid rain, outside of coal mining areas.

Yeah, there are geology issues, such as pyrite too. There's also situations where basins HAD a small amount of buffering minerals such as limestone, but have exhausted them through years of acid rain. In those cases, even diminishing the source may not raise the pH of the water. Every stream has to be looked at individually to both determine it's problems and the effectiveness of any solutions. No one size fits all.

But since the 1972 Clean Air act, acid deposition has indeed measurably decreased over time, and a number (not all) streams have benefitted from it. And it stands to reason that further decreases would improve the situation further. In some streams it wouldn't help, in others it would.

And this is one of those things where even environmentalists have to realize that ALL power sources have negative impacts. It may be that expanding one brings some negative consequences, but it also brings positive ones. For instance, with gas, yes, a small % of wells may indeed leak and contaminate groundwater. A small % of many thousands of wells means it will happen, or has happened on multiple occasions in PA. Further, yes, disposal of waste waters may indeed increase the concentration of certain contaminants in our rivers and drinking water.

However, the consequence of NOT doing it is leaving all of these coal plants running. Out of necessity. Which means continued mining activity, continued acid rain, who knows how many respiratory illnesses it is currently causing, other different contaminants staying in our rivers and drinking water, etc.

Not a question of whether a power source is completely safe. None of them are. We are not starting from a pristine condition. The question is whether the proposed source is better than the status quo or the other alternatives.

I could be convinced otherwise and welcome all objective discussions, but from what I've seen my view is this:

Wind and solar are great, but will always be supplementary, and we need more than supplementary. Hydro will continue at current rates, but we're kind of maxed out, and we need more energy. Energy conservation is great, but ultimately demand will continue to rise as population rises, conservation can only slow the rate. So to meet future demand:

Nuclear>>gas>>coal.

Posted on: 2013/8/2 11:50


Re: Acid Rain and Un-surveyed streams

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From Brookville, PA
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Chaz curious of where you found that at. I know a few places that posted or shared it most are either the author or myself.

Posted on: 2013/8/2 14:13


Re: Acid Rain and Un-surveyed streams

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That's a good article, and it describes accurately the situation with acid rain. And as he says, this the mechanisms of acid rain and the effects on streams have been known for 40 years or so.

It's not mine drainage in the area he is talking about. And it's not naturally occurring acid from exposure to pyrite. If the cause was pyrite, the streambed would be orange, from the iron in the pyrite depositing out, such as you see with many AMD streams.

He wrote about a particular area in NW PA. But there are many similar stream stretches in other parts of the state, in NC PA, NE PA, and mid-state PA.

Most of these streams don't get talked about much by flyfishers, because the interest in exploring streams with no fish, or very few fish, is usually not great.

But if anyone is interested in seeing an example for themselves, here is a good place to go, and it's not far from Penns Creek. It is south of Weikert.

The stream is called Swift Run in Snyder County, in Bald Eagle State Forest. In the lower part of the stream it is paralleled by a forest road and here the stream holds native brook trout, and is also stocked.

Drive up and park at the last picnic area. At this point the forest road leaves Swift Run and follows up along a trib. This little trib comes out of a lower rock formation and is buffered well enough so that it supports brook trout, and adds enough fertility so that Swift Run below this also supports wild trout.

But, if you fish Swift Run on up above that tributary and up into the roadless backcountry, you very quickly run out of fish.

The stream runs for about 4 miles through nothing but forest. This area is labeled "Tall Timbers Natural Area" on the forest map.

There has been no mine drainage up there, or other pollution sources. The water is clear. It looks a like a beautiful, tumbling forested "typical brookie stream."

But there are no trout and no fish of any kind. And if you turn over rocks you will see that there is very limited aquatic invert life. Not zero, but not much.

This stream has been studied a lot by Carl Kirby and his students at Bucknell. The stream is flowing out of the Tuscarora sandstone formation, which provides very little buffering.

Some other streams nearby where the headwaters are coming out of lower rock formations that provide more fertility, better buffering, and there are trout the whole way to the extreme headwaters.

Posted on: 2013/8/2 15:20


Re: Acid Rain and Un-surveyed streams
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So, to make a long story short, when rainwater is acidic and the drainage pathways are not such as can buffer, then all the downstream areas are likewise acidic, until some buffering occurs. If rainwater were not acidic, then we have no need for buffering.

Do I have that right?

Posted on: 2013/8/2 20:31
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Re: Acid Rain and Un-surveyed streams

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Posted on: 2013/8/2 21:53


Re: Acid Rain and Un-surveyed streams

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@troutbert...Regarding AMD causing the streambed to be orange. Actually that is a misconception. I deal with AMD for a living. In fact, that area is one of my watersheds that I oversee. The worst AMD is water that doesnt look like AMD because all the acidity, iron, aluminum, and other chemical species are still in solution and impacting more miles of stream until it begins to drop out. I have collected numerous water samples from springs and seeps which appeared to be clean water that ends up being loaded with iron, aluminum, a host of other metals, and has a pH of less than 3. As you raise the pH of water, the rate at which iron drops out of solution increases exponentially.

One of the worst sources of AMD in northwestern PA (aside from mining) is the old oil/gas wells that dot the landscape. Many of the old wells casings have deteriorated and failed, causing AMD to be released through artesian flow.

@JackM...You are correct AMD and acid rain will remain and impact streams until the water contacts either a rock/soil formation or another water body that can raise the pH.

Posted on: 2013/8/2 22:12
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Re: Acid Rain and Un-surveyed streams

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Here's a recent article about the Homer City, PA coal burning power plant, one of the real biggies.

http://tinyurl.com/mjr2u7t

Looks like they will upgrading their pollution controls, as a result of a lawsuit, cutting down substantially on sulphur emissions.

Posted on: 2013/8/3 13:02


Re: Acid Rain and Un-surveyed streams
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Some excellent information here - thanks fellas.

Posted on: 2013/8/3 14:56


Re: Acid Rain and Un-surveyed streams

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@pcray-I am not arguing against acid rain being the cause, or that acid rain doesnt exist. I am also well aware of the lack of good extensive buffering formations in western PA. The limestones in western pa are generally freshwater formations and have far less buffering capacity than the marine limestones in central/eastern PA. My problem with the article was that it didnt eliminate the other causes of a dead stream and jumped to the conclusion that it was acid rain. Perhaps he did his investigation correctly and didnt publish the data? Its poor science at best if he didnt at least explore other possibilities.


Posted on: 2013/8/3 21:28
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Re: Acid Rain and Un-surveyed streams

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TB - I've fished Swift Run...glad I stopped at the last picnic area! You could tell it was obviously stocked and fished along the road from the jack dam pools. It was early August and I struggled with spooky fish in low water, but they were there. Saw a couple larger fish that I assume were holdover stockies as well.

A stream that strikes me as being another one that suffers from poor natural buffering (but is not in an AMD area) is Tumbling Run (E. Branch Antietam trib) in the southern part of Michaux SF. While there aren't necessarily a ton of great streams in that area, there are many that have wild Brookies in them. Tumbling Run is a classic looking, steep, and fairly decent sized plunge pool stream...but there's no Brookies in it. Frustrating when you're looking at pretty much perfect Brookie habitat in every bathtub pool. The stream bottom on that stream is a very fine white gravel, bordering on really big sand in places really...which given the absence of Brookies I assume is a poor natural buffer against acidic conditions?

Posted on: 2013/8/6 12:04



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