September 27, 2010--Elevated Nitrogen and Phosphorus Still Widespread in U.S. Streams and Groundwater (Science Daily)

Elevated concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus, nutrients that can negatively impact aquatic ecosystems and human health, have remained the same or increased in many streams and aquifers across the United States since the early 1990's, according to a new national study by the U.S. Geological Survey. "This USGS report provides the most comprehensive national-scale assessment to date of nitrogen and phosphorus in our streams and groundwater," said Marcia McNutt, USGS Director. "For years we have known that these same nutrients in high concentrations have resulted in 'dead zones' when they reach our estuaries, such as during the spring at the mouth of the Mississippi, and now we have improved science-based explanations of when, where, and how elevated concentrations reach our streams and aquifers and affect aquatic life and the quality of our drinking water." "Despite major Federal, State and local efforts and expenditures to control sources and movement of nutrients within our Nation's watersheds, national-scale progress was not evident in this assessment, which is based on thousands of measurements and hundreds of studies across the country from the 1990's and early 2000's," said Matthew C. Larsen, USGS Associate Director for Water. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, nutrient pollution has consistently ranked as one of the top three causes of degradation in U.S. streams and rivers for decades.

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