20-Years of Water Quality

Organic Nitrogen Trends, 1997-2016. (Source: NC DWR)

A November presentation to the NC Environmental Management Commission gave a snapshot of what’s going on with water quality trends in the State from 1997 to 2016.  Statewide, Ambient Monitoring Stations, or sites where NC regularly monitors water quality, were examined to give both a spatial and temporal understanding of what’s happening in our waterways.

Examining Total Kjehldahl nitrogen (TKN), a pollutant that contributes to water quality impairments such as algal blooms, state analysis sees a troubling trend of increased TKN levels. That increase helped contribute to 7 additional assessment areas being included on the State’s impaired water list.  This trend has also been covered in a previous post.

The State report also finds increases in turbidity and fecal coliform bacteria impairments along with those to fish and bug communities.

While other report findings were not as bleak (decreases in some metals like copper and zinc), the overall picture is one that reminds state officials that more improvements are needed if we are going to take measurable strides in making state waters more fishable and swimmable.

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