Public comment invited on DEP Water Quality Report

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has released for public comment the draft Pennsylvania 2022 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report, the biennial update on the health of streams and lakes statewide. 

“The Integrated Water Quality Report is a vital tool for Pennsylvanians to be informed on the health of their streams, rivers, and lakes,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “We’re committed to continuing to make it as robust as possible to equip Pennsylvanians to take action and be part of solutions to address challenges to water quality, whether in their neighborhood, county, or watershed.”

DEP submits the Integrated Water Quality Report to the U.S. Environmental Protection agency and the public every two years, as required by the federal Clean Water Act of 1972. Waters are assessed for one or more of four uses—drinking water, fish consumption, aquatic life, and recreational use—and determined to be attaining or impaired.

DEP welcomes comments on the report. Comments can be made online through the DEP eComment system, may be emailed to [email protected], or can be mailed to the DEP Policy Office, Rachel Carson State Office Building, P.O. Box 2063, Harrisburg, PA 17105. All comments must include the commenter’s name and address. 

The deadline for comments is March 1.

People can visit the DEP web site for a video that walks them through how to use the interactive features of the 2022 Integrated Water Quality Report for fullest effect.

A color-coded interactive map in the “2020 to 2022 Changes” section makes it easy for Pennsylvanians to see whether their local lake or stream is attaining or impaired and whether this reflects a change in status over the past two years. With one click, users can see the details on which use (or uses) DEP assessed the waterway for. If it is impaired, they can see both the cause, such as habitat alteration, flow change, siltation, or another factor, and the source.

For the 2022 report, DEP expanded assessment of waterways, with 5,844 stream miles and 25,742 public lake acres newly assessed for a use. DEP reassessed 5,334 stream miles and 14,262 public lake acres. Based on new assessments and reassessments, the percentage of impaired stream miles rose from 30 to 33 percent compared with 2020. 

The 2022 report also showcases water quality restoration, noting that since 2004, approximately 920 miles of streams and 28,000 acres of public lakes have been restored. A color-coded interactive map shows which waterways have been restored for which uses and when.

To underscore the connections between water quality and climate change and nonpoint source pollution, the report also includes information on DEP’s 2021 state Climate Action Plan and the “Healthy Waters, Healthy Communities” effort in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Pennsylvania is a national leader in the extent of its water quality assessment. The 2022 Integrated Water Quality Report reflects the cumulative assessment of 99 percent (84,977 miles) of stream miles and 97 percent (109,819 acres) of lake acres statewide since Pennsylvania began reporting for the Clean Water Act. 

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the federal Clean Water Act, which established the structure for regulating discharges of pollutants and regulating quality standards for surface waters in the United States.

Spread the word. Share this post!

About the Author