Pittsburgh has a wet weather problem. As a result of sprawling development, an increasing portion of the Pittsburgh area is impervious, meaning that instead of filtering into the ground, rainfall runs off roads and into waterways. During heavy rain events, the city suffers from sewer overflows and flash floods, when excess stormwater overloads the sewer system and raw sewage flows into its rivers and streams.
Coal mining in the Susquehanna River basin has scarred the landscape and causes water pollution. As a result, more than 2,000 miles of streams in the Susquehanna River basin are so polluted by mine drainage that they cannot fully support aquatic life. But EPA funding is supporting state and local initiatives to clean up the Susquehanna River basin and restore the vitality of its waterways.
Although the classic novella A River Runs Through It was set on the Blackfoot River, a 1992 movie adaptation had to be filmed on the Gallatin River because the Blackfoot was too polluted. In the decades since, local groups started by Blackfoot Valley landowners have restored large stretches of the Blackfoot and its tributaries. That work was funded in part by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Today, the Blackfoot is a naturally functioning, healthy river home to wild and native trout.
Puget Sound is critical to the health and welfare of our families, our communities, and wildlife. For 40 years, EPA has been working to protect Puget Sound and its watershed from threats like stormwater, sewer overflows and industrial activity. Only a well-funded EPA can continue the legacy of progress in cleaning up Puget Sound and ensure that it is healthy and safe for us and future generations to enjoy.
Drainage from abandoned mines is the primary cause of pollution in the headwaters of the Schuylkill River, as old mines in eastern Pennsylvania leak acid and heavy metals into the river. One waterbody that suffered from abandoned mine drainage was Silver Creek, a tributary of the Schuylkill River south of Hazleton, which received pollution from the former Silver Creek Mine.
What impact would the Trump EPA budget, or lesser cuts proposed by Congress, have on the health of America’s waterways? This week, we launch a new report series, Rough Waters Ahead, written with Environment American Research & Policy Center, that tells how the EPA has helped to protect and restore the health of our nation’s great waterways – including the Delaware River Basin, the Great Lakes and Puget Sound – and how the Trump administration’s proposed budget would affect them.