Pennsylvania is one of two states without statewide standards for the construction of private water wells. Bills have been introduced in the current legislative session to develop these standards for new private water wells in Pennsylvania based on best practices developed by groundwater professionals and used in most states. Bucks, Chester, and Montgomery Counties and a few townships and boroughs throughout the state do have well construction standards.
When the biodiversity of an ecosystem is reduced by invasive species, competition for food plays a more important role than has previously been supposed. This was the conclusion of research conducted by scientists on cichlid species in Lake Victoria, which suffered mass extinction following the introduction of the fish-eating Nile perch in the 1950s. The study also demonstrates the threat which rapid environmental changes pose to highly specialized species.
Rain barrels are a great way to collect water for use in your yard or garden and an easy way to help minimize storm water impacts on your property. Just like many outdoor items though, they require some extra wintertime maintenance to keep them in working order and your home from being damaged.
Penn State Extension Water Resources Educator, Jim Clark, attended the North American Lake Management Societies Annual Meeting in Saratoga Springs, November 2015. One of the more interesting talks he attended concerned mandatory boat inspections on Lake George in New York.
Partnerships between the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) enhance the State's ability to evaluate human-health risks from chemicals of concern (CECs). MDH considers CECs for toxicological review and development of drinking-water guidance. The human-health information generated by the MDH puts the chemical data into an environmental health context.
A new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) report summarizes the major findings of national and regional assessments of groundwater quality in 40 Principal Aquifers in the United States. Knowledge of contaminant occurrence and the factors that control contaminant concentrations can ensure the availability and quality of this vital natural resource in the future.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are collaborating on a field-based study of chemical mixture composition and environmental effects in stream waters affected by a wide range of human activities and contaminant sources.
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists determined that endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) were present in wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluent, water, and fish tissue in urban waterways in the Great Lakes and upper Mississippi River Regions (Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio) during 1999 through 2009.
Based on a multi-agency, multi-year study of one of the most complex river systems in Pennsylvania, the two most likely causes for the population decline of smallmouth bass in the Susquehanna River are endocrine-disrupting compounds and herbicides; and pathogens and parasites.
Pharmaceuticals, hormones, personal care products, and other contaminants of concern associated with everyday household activities were found in adjacent shallow groundwater near two septic system networks in New York (NY) and New England (NE). Factors influencing movement to shallow groundwater and the types of chemicals found include population served by a septic system, site conditions such as soil permeability, and the properties of the chemicals.
Neonicotinoid insecticides (neonicotinoids) were present in a little more than half of the streams sampled across the United States and Puerto Rico, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study. This is the first national-scale study of the presence of neonicotinoids in urban and agricultural land use settings across the Nation and was completed as part of ongoing USGS investigations of pesticide levels in streams.
In order to properly maintain your well and septic system, you should know the location of all components on your property. You should have a map showing the location of the well, septic tank, distribution box or pump tank, and leach field/absorption area or sand mound along with other underground utility lines.
The question of whether it is environmentally correct to buy a real Christmas tree has been asked repeatedly in recent years, and an expert in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences wants to lay it to rest permanently.
Soil acidification from acid rain that is harmful to plant and aquatic life has now begun to reverse in forests of the northeastern United States and eastern Canada, according to an American-Canadian collaboration of five institutions led by the U.S. Geological Survey.
Urban environments struggle with contaminated water running off, causing pollution and algal blooms. In response, cities often use natural landscapes of soil, grasses, and trees. These biofiltration systems capture and filter the runoff. Researchers measured how well tree species grew when watered with stormwater, and how well they took extra nutrients out of the stormwater.
Results of a 15-year study of factors affecting populations of Eastern brook trout with climate change show high summer air temperatures have a large influence, in particular on the smallest fry and eggs, which are most important to wild trout abundance in streams. Findings are expected to help nonprofit watershed conservation groups and state and federal wildlife managers identify, prioritize and protect habitat at sites most likely to have fish in the future.
Looking for a new way to engage community members in streamside restoration efforts? The Penn State Agriculture and Environment Center (AEC) and Penn State Extension have worked to develop a citizen science monitoring protocol that can easily and quickly show volunteers the good that comes from installing best management practices.
A new article has identified escape from aquaculture facilities, releases in the wild due to pet/aquarium trade and stocking activities as the main pathways of alien species introduction in European lakes and rivers. Germany, the UK and Italy are the main entry gateways. The authors recommend tightened controls, and improved prevention and management measures in order to halt the increasing trend of freshwater alien species introductions in Europe.
The Penn State Master Well Owner Network (MWON) recently added 17 new volunteers who completed the Fall 2015 online training courses. These volunteers join nearly 700 others who are dedicated to providing unbiased, research-based education on the proper management of private water wells, springs and cisterns.
The over-tapping of the High Plains Aquifer's groundwater beyond the aquifer's recharge rate peaked in 2006, new research shows. Its use is projected to decrease by roughly 50 percent in the next 100 years.
Penn State Extension Educator, Jim Clark, received the 2015 Outreach and Education Award from the North American Lake Management Society (NALMS) Award Program Chair, Dick Osgood, at their annual conference in Saratoga Springs, NY, on Thursday, November 19.
The first data-driven estimate of the Earth's total supply of groundwater shows that less than six per cent of groundwater in the upper two kilometers of the Earth's landmass is renewable within a human lifetime.
An increasing amount of drugs taken by humans and animals make it into streams and waterways, and pharmaceutical pollution has had catastrophic ecosystem consequences despite low levels of concentration in the environment. The effect of pharmaceuticals and other contaminants of emerging concern on the environment has been the focus of recent research.
A growing number of farms and greenhouses in Pennsylvania rely on irrigation for crop production. Sources of irrigation water include wells, springs, streams, ponds, runoff and municipal water. Penn State surveys of irrigation water sources have found that the majority have water quality characteristics that may be problematic for crops or irrigation equipment, most commonly high pH, alkalinity and hardness.
The invasive northern snakehead fish found in the mid-Atlantic area is now cause for more concern, potentially bringing diseases into the region that may spread to native fish and wildlife, according to a team of U.S. Geological Survey scientists.
Most programs designed to promote soil health focus on encouraging farmers to adopt a prescribed set of practices, like cover cropping or nutrient management. Penn State Rural Sociology Doctoral Candidate Jennifer Hayden argues that a new approach is needed — one that instead works with farmers as they balance all the many influences particular to their own individual, unique farms. Hayden spent two years researching farms in the Chesapeake Bay watershed to understand agricultural soil health. Here, Hayden describes what she learned, and suggests a new model for helping farmers improve soil health.
The ability to model subsurface movement of pollutants is a critical need within environmental sciences. On October 28, 2015, Dr. Li Li, an associate professor in Energy and Mineral Engineering at Penn State University, presented an online webinar on Predicting Flow, Transport, and Biogeochemical Reactions in Subsurface Environmental Systems Using Reactive Transport Models.
The Penn State On-line Pond Home Study Course is a 12-week class that covers six lessons, including getting to know your pond, pond maintenance, weed and algae control, fisheries management, ponds and wildlife, and pond case studies.
The numbers are in for the Lake Erie International Coastal Cleanup. Beginning on Saturday, September 19, and ending on October 2, volunteers picked up 6,853 pounds of trash along the 67.5 miles of Lake Erie shoreline and waterways within the County.
Many people live in subdivisions with storm water ponds, which collect water from the neighborhood and help keep pollutants such as fertilizers, pesticides and pet waste from getting into the broader environment. Now, researchers have devised strategies to help homeowners limit their pollution contribution.
Most drug residues discharged to wastewater come from private households. As contributors of pollution by Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs), health establishments, such as hospitals, psychiatric and nursing facilities are hardly worth mentioning, say researchers. They merely discharge a small amount, and only at local level, of these significant contaminating substances to wastewater.
In celebration of National Drinking Water Week, Penn State Extension along with numerous partners are sponsoring the 2016 Pennsylvania Groundwater Symposium at the Ramada Inn Conference Center in State College, PA on May 4, 2016.
The Penn State Agricultural Analytical Services Laboratory recently released their updated summaries from water samples submitted to their drinking water program over the past year. Statewide and county summaries are available on their website.
A new interactive mapping tool provides predicted concentrations for 108 pesticides in streams and rivers across the Nation and identifies which streams are most likely to exceed water-quality guidelines for human health or aquatic life.
New water-tracing technology has been used in the Sydney Basin for the first time to determine how groundwater moves in the different layers of rock below the surface. The study provides a baseline against which any future impacts on groundwater from mining operations, groundwater abstraction or climate change can be assessed. The research has global relevance because this new technology provides a quick and cheap alternative to having to install numerous boreholes for groundwater monitoring.
Don Siegel of Syracuse University and his colleagues recently published, “Pre-drilling water-quality data of groundwater prior to shale gas drilling in the Appalachian Basin: Analysis of the Chesapeake Energy Corporation dataset” in the journal, Applied Geochemistry.
With the help of well-crafted advertising, disposable wet wipes—a product once used mainly for wiping baby bottoms—are now increasingly being used on adult bottoms. Although they are frequently labeled as “flushable,” the problems adult wet wipes have created for municipal sewer systems are well documented. Their increasing presence in sewers has created a major surge in clogged lines and sewage pumps for municipal wastewater utilities. The effect of flushed wipes on septic systems has received less attention but problems are also being widely reported.
Residential heating oil tanks are tanks that store fuel oil to provide space heating on premises where they are located. With proper tank management, spills and leaks can be avoided. Leaking tanks can contaminate public and private drinking water supplies, pollute soils, create the potential for fires and explosions, and subject tank owners to very expensive cleanup costs. A typical cleanup cost for spills and overfills from heating oil tanks ranges from $10,000 to $50,000 and is often not covered by typical homeowner’s insurance policies
Thirty-eight landowners, representing 64 acres of ponds, from Cumberland and surrounding counties participated in a Pond and Lake Management Workshop held at the Penn State Extension Office in Carlisle.
Trends in pesticide concentrations in 38 major rivers in the U.S. during 1992-2010 reflect large-scale trends in pesticide use and regulatory changes, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey.
Penn State Extension held a Home Water and Septic System Workshop twice on September 29 in South Coatesville. A total of 74 people from 57 households attended, primarily from Chester County but also Lancaster and Cumberland Counties
A low-cost method of removing phosphates from tile drainage water has been developed, and may help protect lakes and streams. Using steel byproducts to trap phosphates in simulated tile drainage water, the researchers envision installing a steel-containing cartridge as an add-on to nitrate-capturing bioreactors.
In the battle against weeds, tillage is one of the strongest weapons at the disposal of organic or ecologically based farmers. But, depending on when it is used, tillage can also be a strong driver of nitrogen losses that contribute to groundwater pollution, according to researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.
The Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR)- Bureau of State Parks is very excited to announce the new Watershed Education Website. The website is a mobile-friendly, responsive design website designed to promote PA State Park’s Watershed Education (WE) program and provide WE trained teachers with more resources. The WE Website contains links to the new Pennsylvania Water Basin maps, Charts for teaching about streams (slope, volume of flow, and stream mapping), Watershed Tour PowerPoints, Watershed Delineation PowerPoints, and more.
Stroud Water Research Center and the University of Delaware have received a $475,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study how the enormous amount of particulate organic nitrogen transported downstream during intense storms contributes to the overall nitrogen load, and what then happens to all the particulate materials.
Homeowners using wells, springs or cisterns as their water supply should consider having their water tested routinely. Anyone served by public water suppliers who is considering water treatment equipment would benefit, too.
The first continent-wide, multi-factor analysis of climate and land cover effects on watersheds in the United States, published today, provides a broad new assessment of runoff, flooding and storm water management options for use by such professionals as land use and town planners and water quality managers.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is reminding Pennsylvanians about the importance of onlot septic system maintenance. This annual initiative, led by DEP and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), encourages residents to learn about and properly maintain their septic systems during SepticSmart Week from September 21 to 25.
Over the past year, Extension educators around the state connected with a variety of youth audiences to teach them about water quality and help them to be more aware of where their drinking water comes from.
NRCS will be able to provide funding assistance directly to Pennsylvania farmers and landowners in Fiscal Year 2016 to help them implement conservation practices through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the agency’s largest Farm Bill conservation program, the Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) program, and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). Interested producers should visit their local NRCS service center for sign-up information.
A new study reveals a pressing need to better understand water use in America's rivers, with implications for drought-stricken regions of the country. Findings from the study showed that virtually all of the water entering the Wabash River in Indiana during summer months is withdrawn and then returned to the waterway.
Understanding the role of freshwater lakes and reservoirs in the global carbon cycle is the focus of ongoing research. Lakes make up less than 3 percent of the landscape, but they bury more carbon than all the world's oceans combined. In the global carbon cycle, fresh water lakes and reservoirs are hot spots of carbon cycling and important players in the global carbon cycle.
Longer, more severe, and hotter droughts and a myriad of other threats, including diseases and more extensive and severe wildfires, are threatening to transform some of the world's temperate forests, a new study has found. Without informed management, some forests could convert to shrublands or grasslands within the coming decades.
The National Ground Water Association’s Protect Your Groundwater Day was held on September 8, 2015. Groundwater protection strategies are especially important in Pennsylvania which is home to over one million private water wells and springs, but is one of the few states that do not provide statewide regulations to protect these rural drinking water supplies.
The Chesapeake Bay Commission will hear a midpoint assessment of the progress states are making toward meeting their 2017 Chesapeake Bay cleanup milestones at its next meeting on September 10-11 in Alexandria, Virginia.
Shade may limit the presence of invasive plants along streams and rivers, based on a study conducted using stream condition data collected by means of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Stream Visual Assessment Protocol (SVAP).
Sixty-eight McKean County Residents delivered medications to the Drug Enforcement Agency’s National Unwanted Medication Collection Program on Saturday, September 12, 2015, at the Penn State Extension Office in Smethport.
Despite it feeling like a wet and gray winter, it hasn’t translated into a very wet spring. We are blessed to have the giant sponges that are forested watersheds to help us out. Penn’s Woods isn’t just about the trees.
Pennsylvanians should prepare for dangerously high summer temperatures and more severe storms, increased threat of certain diseases carried by insects, and drastic changes to agriculture and water quality, according to a new report on the impact of climate change from Penn State University. The report was authored by Dr. James Shortle with assistance from a multidisciplinary team of colleagues at Penn State.
The Joint Legislative Conservation Committee has released a Green Paper on the fluoridation of public drinking water systems in Pennsylvania. The report provides historical background on fluoridation, potential medical effects, and a current snapshot of fluoridation from a statewide perspective.
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has opened a grant program to control urban stormwater and improve local water quality. Municipalities, including cities, boroughs, or incorporated towns within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed are eligible to apply.
Blooms of toxic cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, are a poorly monitored and under-appreciated risk to recreational and drinking water quality in the United States, and may increasingly pose a global health threat, scientists warn.
When trying to explain the potential effects of climate change on plants, fish and wildlife, scientists usually resort to language that fails to convey the impact of warming. Now, a study clearly explains the impact of projected warming waters on wild brook trout in the eastern US for fishermen.
Pennsylvania experiences a lot of rain. When one considers the droughts causing havoc on the West Coast, the amount of rainfall the commonwealth enjoys is certainly a blessing. But it can also have its drawbacks. In a report released by the University of Pittsburgh, the unique difficulties associated with plentiful rainfall and water resources are explored, as well as a way to mitigate them.
Estimates vary, but each of us uses about 80 to100 gallons of water per day according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Outdoor water use stresses existing water supplies by contributing to peak demand during summer months.
The effort to improve food safety by clearing wild vegetation surrounding crops is not helping, and in some cases may even backfire, according to a new study. The findings call into question the effectiveness of removing non-crop vegetation as a way to reduce field contamination of fresh produce by disease-causing pathogens.
Development of natural gas and oil from shale formations has become a very important part of the U.S. energy portfolio over the last decade. Water quality impacts from shale development have gained significant public concern and media attention, though well-documented impacts are not common.
The deadly fungus Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans could cause salamander population declines and extinctions if brought to North America via international trade, biologists warn. They are calling for the federal government to place an immediate ban on salamander imports to the United States until a plan is in place to detect and prevent the fungus' spread.
A teen is tackling serious water quality issues that threaten the health of rivers, streams and groundwater. Now she has just put the final touches on her research of a plastic adsorbent that removes pharmaceutical drugs from water sources.
Penn State Extension Water Resource Educators, Jim Clark and Jennifer Fetter, presented an hour long water workshop at the Family and Consumer Sciences Teachers Conference held on Tuesday, July 7, 2015, at Penn State.
It is with great excitement for the people and water resources in rural counties of Pennsylvania, that we report that the “National Drug Take Back Program”, sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), is returning this September.
Penn State Extension Water Resources Educator, Jim Clark, taught a session on aquatic invasive species for over 100 elementary school students in McKean County on Tuesday, May 19th, at Wildcat Park near Kane, PA.
NOAA is predicting 2015 western Lake Erie harmful algal bloom season will be among the most severe in recent years and could become the second worst behind the record-setting 2011 bloom.The bloom will be expected to measure 8.7 on the severity index with a range from 8.1 to potentially as high as 9.5. This is more severe than 2014's 6.5, and may equal or exceed 2013, which had the second worse bloom this century.
A recent review performed by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation showed Pennsylvania is falling short of meeting its commitment to reduce pollution and ultimately restore its waterways, but York County remains on track to meet its own pollution reduction goals.
Extension Educator Jim Clark reports on the national lake association newsletters entitled “NALMS Notes”. Here are some interesting pond or lake related items and resources that Pennsylvania residents may find useful as well.
Tiny microscopic animals called zooplankton are ingesting plastic particles at an alarming rate, according to a new study. That could not only pose a risk to salmon but also spell trouble for the entire aquatic food web -- from zooplankton to humpback whales.
The use of irrigation to support crops in Pennsylvania in fields, greenhouses, and high tunnels is growing. Irrigation water quality characteristics such as hardness, dissolved salts, and microorganisms vary depending on the local geology and type of water source. These water quality constituents can have important implications for both the health of and yield from irrigated crops.
What prudent steps can help you manage your small water system, one of your key business assets to avoid the calamity of a contaminated community water supply well or wells? If you are the owner of a water well or wells at a mobile home park, homeowners association, small community, nursing home or residential treatment facility that serves 500 people or less, you owe it to yourself and your residents to check out the benefits of DEP's voluntary Small System Source water Protection Program, available at no out-of-pocket cost.
As water scarcity and quality issues grow in California and around the world, a new book examines the experience of 15 countries where conservation has been achieved through water-pricing incentive systems.
Water quality trading was the topic of a live webinar on May 27, 2015 sponsored by the Penn State Extension Water Resources team. Water quality trading is drawing much interest as a market-based mechanism for water quality protection.
What would happen if a common tree had the potential to turn cloudy, contaminated water into clean, safe drinking water for millions in need? Penn State researchers are hoping to find out using the seeds of the Moringa oleifera tree.