EPA removes Mon River from impaired waterways list

From the Observer-Reporter

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency removed the Monongahela River from a list of impaired waterways in Pennsylvania.

The EPA did so by approving the state Department of Environmental Protection’s 2014 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report that concluded the river’s “in-stream level of sulfates now meets Pennsylvania’s water quality standards,” the DEP stated in a Monday news release.

The Mon River was listed as impaired in the 2012 report. Since then, 333 miles of previously impaired flowing waters and 853 lake acres were restored, DEP spokeswoman Amanda Witman said.

The Mon River was nearly dead of life from steel mill and other pollution in the 1960s.

Over the past decade, in terms of diversity, the Mon River became home to many fish qualified as pollution intolerant, including the red horse sucker and some minnows, the state Fish and Boat Commission has said. The river also is home to the ghost shiner, a freshwater fish that was considered endangered in Pennsylvania two years ago.

The improvement to the river’s water quality “is the result of hard work by industry, regulators, environmental educators and watershed organizations” to address pollution, said Pennsylvania American Water spokeswoman Josephine Posti.

“While our treatment process provides drinking water that meets and exceeds standards, the overall health of the river is an important factor in our region’s quality of life, and over the years we’ve taken active roles in both the River Alert Information Network and the Mon River Users Group in order to address complex challenges within the watershed,” Posti said.

The company operates a Mon River intake in Elrama for its public water supply.

“While this designation reflects the hard work among many stakeholders, we must all remain vigilant in how we treat and protect our water sources so it never returns to impaired status,” Posti said.