55% of US Rivers and Streams are in Poor Condition, Says EPA

Written by Michael Graham Richard

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sampled around 2,000 rivers and streams in 2008-2009 and, after taking a few years to analyze and compile the data, they’ve released a draft version of the National Rivers and Streams Assessment 2008-2009 (pdf). What they found is pretty alarming: Only 21 percent of rivers and streams were deemed to be in “good” health, while 23 percent were rated “fair” and 55 percent got a “poor” grade.

Of the three major climatic regions (Eastern Highlands, Plains and Lowlands, and West) discussed in this report, the West is in the best biological condition, with 42% of river and stream length in good condition. In the Eastern Highlands, 17% of river and stream length is in good condition; in the Plains and Lowlands, 16% is rated in good condition.

There are various reasons for the bad shape the nation’s rivers and streams are in. Nutrient pollution is a major cause, with phosphorus and nitrogen running off from agricultural and urban sources. There’s also land development that can cause accelerated erosion and flooding (mostly through removing natural plant and tree cover).

In a statement, Nancy Stoner, Office of Water Acting Assistant Administrator at the EPA, said:

The health of our Nationís rivers, lakes, bays and coastal waters depends on the vast network of streams where they begin, and this new science shows that Americaís streams and rivers are under significant pressure. We must continue to invest in protecting and restoring our nationís streams and rivers as they are vital sources of our drinking water, provide many recreational opportunities, and play a critical role in the economy.

This post was originally published by TreeHugger.



Waheeda S.
Waheeda S6 years ago

Not unexpected but disheartening nonetheless. :(

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener6 years ago

Which was to be expected.

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla6 years ago


Spirit Spider
Spirit Spider6 years ago

Siiiiiiiiiiiiigh it's the same story all over the globe :(

Frank S.
Past Member 6 years ago

We all know that corporations in this country are untouchable. Thats the way things are in corporate America.

When the Hudson River was under attack from polluters like IBM. Tuck Tape, G E, U S Gypsum and countless others, the EPA were walking around with their hands extended and their pockets full of corporate cash to look the other way[ a typical government agency] until the Hudson River got totally polluted and the evidence was everywhere.

As far as I am concerned the EPA should hang their heads in shame.

Don Swanz
Don Swanz6 years ago

ERNEST R: Go brother Go. Now there are two (2) of us. Don :-))

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra6 years ago

Thank you TreeHugger, for Sharing this!

Deanna R.
Deanna R6 years ago

Exxon Mobil, Shell and BP haven't helped this situation have they? Nor have mountain top removers or frackers such as Haliburton. The ones who didn't pay much taxes seem to have caused catastrophic damage to our precious waters, but then try to make tax payers foot the bill. What's up with that? Sounds backwards to me.

Ernest Roth
Ernest R6 years ago

@ Janice L. “Don't preach to the corporations about what they are doing to pollute when you are buying the products they are suppling”. Right . Don’t blame the corporations. Stop buying anything plastic or any oil or gas, or any meat or any GM products from factory farms with their antibiotics, pesticides and herbicides. Don’t buy anything from China, or their customer Walmart. Don’t buy anything with palm oil. Hey Janice, once we have done all that, will we then be permitted to preach to the corporations ?

Sonali Ghosh
Sonali G6 years ago

what a dreadful mistake. Our childrens children and the generations to come will look back at us with a resentment and shame I am sure