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  • Threat 6 Water Quality

    Threat #6 Water Quality

    Canal-pollutionMillions of fish die annually because of weather-related catastrophes, disease, and pollution.

    We can do little about rotting debris that depletes oxygen in a lake or river following a hurricane or the “winter-kill” that occurs in the aftermath of especially long, harsh winters. Nor can we do anything about bacterial infections caused by stress in the aftermath of spawning or during a hot, dry summer.

    But both collectively and individually, we could do a much better job of reducing the pollution that degrades our lakes and streams and sometimes kills our fish.

    About 44 percent of assessed stream miles, 64 percent of assessed lake acres, and 30 percent of assessed bay and estuarine square miles are not clean enough to support uses such as fishing and swimming, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

    Water-Pollution-ScientistPassage of the federal Clean Water Act 40 years ago has helped us clean up “point source” pollution from sewage plants and industries, but runoff pollution remains a major challenge.

    Much of that comes from agricultural lands. For example, fertilizers pouring into the Mississippi River feed algae blooms that cause a massive “dead zone” at the mouth of the river each summer.

    DieselrainbowBut runoff also comes from parking lots, driveways, golf courses, and lawns. When it rains, sediment, oil, grease, pesticides, fertilizers, pet wastes, and possibly even toxic chemicals wash into storm drains and streams. From there they contaminate rivers, lakes and coastal waters.

    As good stewards, we must remember that whatever we pour onto the ground— paved or porous — eventually makes its way into waterways. And we should do everything we can to diminish this pollution source.

    For example, we should use fewer fertilizers and pesticides, especially near streams and lake shores, and we should encourage others to do the same.

    Solution: Use fewer toxic chemicals and never dump them irresponsibly. Recycle, including recycling e-waste, and reduce the pesticide and herbicides you use on your lawn and garden.

    Back to Six Risks Facing Fishing main | Threat # 1 | Threat #2 | Threat #3 | Threat #4 | Threat #5 | Threat #6

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