New England
and
Mid-Atlantic Watersheds

Merrimack River
Connecticut River
Hudson River
Susquehanna River
Where
is the river?
When
is the river used?
How
is the water affected?
Who
protects the river?
What
can you do to help?

References

Other Related Web Sites

Where is the river?
The shape of the land's surface determines where water is going to flow. Water flows from higher elevations to lower elevations, therefore, water flows down mountains and hills into the low lying vallies. After it rains, some water soaks into the ground, (forming ground water) and the rest of the water continues to run along the surface of the ground (forming surface water.) This water travels through or along the ground until it reaches a stream. These streams continue their journey, join other streams, and eventually find their way to a network of rivers.

These water pathways can be quite extensive. Water can travel hundreds of miles until it reaches its final destination. This land over and under which the water drains is called a water shed. These large areas of land are made up of mountains, hills, and flat lands whose drainage leads into major rivers. In the case of the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions, much of these watershed areas contain run-off from the Appalachian Mountains, and drain into major rivers such as: the Hudson, Susquehanna, Merrimack, and Connecticut Rivers. These rivers, or water highways, set the course for water flow through forests, swamps, industrial areas, agricultural areas, and major cities. After following this water trail, this water eventually travels to an ocean, where it can be evaporated into clouds, form rain, and thus begin the cycle over again.

Surf Your Watershed @ http://www.epa.gov/surf

National Watershed Search @ http://www.epa.gov/surf/IWI/data/

Where is the water @ http://www.tier.net/riverwatch/wherewat.htm

When is the river used?
Since water is so abundant and is essential to maintaining life, water is used in many ways. We use water to drink, wash, grow food, power industrial plants, transport people and products, dispose of wastes, and much more. Due to the many uses of water and the human demand for it, the population of a specific area can effect the way water is used. More water is needed in areas of greater population, such as cities, than in less populated areas in the mountains. Cities not only have a large population of people to house, but a large population in need of work and industry. These human needs put a strain on the natural water supply.

Unfortunately, often times water is misused, and unnatural uses cause the water to become contaminated. For example, many times, the water needed to supply these larger concentrations of people is brought from miles away through a manipulation of the natural watershed system. In turn, because the water's natural filtration system is over burdened, this population concentration leads to an overload of contaminates in the water supply . This can lead to higher levels of pollution in these areas, and then, when this water flows past neighboring towns, the contaminated water can spread.

How is the river affected?
Keeping in mind the uses and abuses of the water supply, there is no wonder that our water gets polluted. Disposal of chemicals during commercial and domestic washing, oil from barge traffic, raw sewage dumping, toxins dumped from water powered plants, etc. make their way directly into the rivers that feed our water supply. However, direct misuses of water, such as these, are not the only way pollutants get into the water supply. Often times the pollutants are picked up as the water travels along its natural path toward the sea. It runs through garbage dumps, illegal dump sites for toxic waste, fertilized fields, sewage, industrial complexes, parking lots, and other potentially harmful places. Any time water touches something, it has the ability to carry that contaminant with it. Sometimes that contaminant is filtered out through marshes or forests, or through water treatment facilities, but other times, the pollution is carried all the way to the ocean or redistributed in another community.

Who protects the river?
Taking into consideration the geography, population, and industry in a particular section of the country, each region has its own environmental concerns. The New England and Mid-Atlantic Regions have an interest in coastal areas for fishing and commerce reasons, so pollution of the oceans effects them a great deal. This section of the country also tends to be highly populated and advanced in technological breakthroughs, therefore there is a conflict of interest here between technology and environment. This leads to several serious threats to the environment in these regions.

These environmental concerns do not go unnoticed. Many organizations are dedicated to improving the water environment in these polluted areas. The efforts underway are sponsored by the Federal, State, or Local government, or private organizations. These groups establish environmental laws and regulations, teach companies and communities the importance of maintaining a healthy environment, volunteer for clean up committees, and organize local and national survey boards. Together, with the help of individuals, communities, and industries, these organizations strive to make the waters of the United States cleaner.

Addresses To Environmental Groups:

What can you do to help?
Environmental cleanup is not the sole responsibility of large organizations or groups; everyone can make a difference. As an individual, you can pick up trash that litters your community, recycle, write letters to your local or state representatives, join an environmental clean up crew, encourage others to take care of the environment, and much, much more. All you need is energy, and the determination to make the environment safer for everyone.

Preventing Urban Water Pollution @ http://www.cjnetworks.com/~sccdistrict/resubwt.htm

Local offices for Water Resources @ http://water.usgs.gov/public/wrd002.html

Find Senator @ http://www.senate.gov

Addresses to Environmental Groups:

References

Other Related Web Sites

Return to Main Page

Merrimack River

Where
is the river?
When
is the river used?
How
is the water affected?
Who
protects the river?
What
can you do to help?

Where is the Merrimack River?
hudson river

The Merrimack River forms as the waters of the Pemigewassett and Winnepesaukee Rivers come together in New Hampshire. It winds through Concord, New Hampshire and down into Massachusetts; from there, it drains into the Atlantic Ocean in Newberyport, Massachusetts (#7). Although the Merrimack River begins in the mountains of New Hampshire, and it ends in the flat coastal areas of Massachusetts, most of the river's journey is made through New Hampshire's lowland hills and urban areas (#8).

When is the Merrimack River used?
While on its way to the Atlantic Ocean, the water of the Merrimack is used and reused in various ways. The Merrimack River contains the water drainage of 5,010 square miles of land. This water is used to support more than 2 million people as a source for industrial, agricultural, and domestic use along the banks of the Merrimack River, as well as, its neighboring land. This water is used for sewage disposal, electricity generation, recreation, fishing, and industrial use. Recently, it has also become a major supplier of drinking water for the growing population along the river and supporting areas (#16).

How is the Merrimack River affected?
Due to the many uses of the Merrimack River, pollution plays a major part in this river's history. Former dumpings of mill waste and garbage, along with the current issues of Urban and agricultural run-off and sewage overflows, have caused major pollution problems that are still being cleaned up. Today, the largest pollution problem for the Merrimack River is bacteria. This bacteria seeps into the water supply through urban runoff and storm sewers, combined sewer overflows, and through natural and unknown sources (#8).

Other problems being faced by the Merrimack River are: the loss of wet lands and habitat, over withdrawl of water, and toxic discharges. The increase of human habitation around the Merrimack is causing stress on the water supply and effecting the conditions of the water. Houses and businesses are utilizing more and more water, dumping more toxins, and taking up land that had once been wet lands. Wet lands are nature's way of pulling pollution out of the water. Therefore, the depletion of these wet lands increases concentration of pollutants in the river. The combination of increased population, decreased water supply, increased presence of toxins, and fewer wet lands to clean up afterward, suggests the need for an increase in protective measures (#16).

Merrimack River @ http://www.epa.gov/ecoplaces/part2/region1/site10.html

Who protects the Merrimack River?
Although the Merrimack is still polluted, and half of its streams violate quality standards, it is much cleaner today than it was just a few years ago (#16). This improvement is due to all of the organizations that work together to clean up the river. The Merrimack River Watershed Initiative is one such organization that is dedicated to improving the quality of the Merrimack River and the waters which flow into it. It joins public, private, state, federal, industrial, and environmental groups together in order to provide a more comprehensive effort (#16).

Another clean up group heads The New England Resource Protection Project which is dedicated to insuring the preservation of habitat, water supply, agriculture, forestry, and outdoor recreation. This program began in New Hampshire as a reaction to pollution problems such as that of the Merrimack River (#9).

What can you do to help?
Everyday Environmental Helpers:

-Pick up litter in your neighborhood, so it does not get washed into the nearby rivers.
-Conserve water at home to reduce stress on the water supply.
-Buy products that reduce environmental waste or that can be recycled.
-Dispose of household toxins properly, so they do not pollute the rivers.
-Utilize public transportation to cut down on air pollution that gets redistributed when it rains.

Get Involved:

-Volunteer for environmental clean ups in your community.
-Read articles on pollution in your community to stay aware of pollution problems.
-Support your local Forest and Park Services.
-Encourage the use of EPA approved fertilizers in your community.
-Encourage family and community members to recycle.

Become an Environmental Advocate:

-Join a watershed monitoring program in your community.
-Volunteer at your watershed council; remember, no job is too small.
-Encourage your school to begin a recycling program.
-Write letters or email organizations to encourage laws and other legislation that are aimed at protecting the environment.

Addresses to Environmental Groups:

References

Other Related Web Sites

Return to Main Page

Connecticut River

Where
is the river?
When
is the river used?
How
is the water affected?
Who
protects the river?
What
can you do to help?

Where is the Connecticut River?
connectict river map

The Connecticut River begins at the US/Canadian border. It works its way south between the White Mountains of New Hampshire, to the west, and the Green Mountains of Vermont, to the East. From there, it continues through the Appalacian Mountains in Massachusetts, and travels over the plateau regions of Connecticut, where it runs through Hartford, Connecticut before draining into the Atlantic Ocean at Long Island Sound, north of New York City(#6)(#11).

When is the Connecticut River used?
The Connecticut River is surrounded by lumbering operations, live stock ranching, and manufacturing plants (#15). It also provides a fishing industry along the coast of Connecticut. Aside from these commercial uses, the river's waters are also used for private consumption as drinking water as well as waste disposal. In fact, over 2 million people live in the Connecticut River Watershed (#11).

How is the Connecticut River affected?
Due to the abundance of people who live around the Connecticut River, a sewage overflow problem has been noted. Due to the lack of sewage containment, bacteria and other pollutants brought into the water supply during flood times, as water washes over this sewage, has been a large problem for the Connecticut River. Another major problem has been farm waste and other contaminants that have clogged the river, effected plant life, animal life, and recreation, and proved that it was time for some changes in practices (#11).

Who protects the Connecticut River?
30 years ago CRERPA was established to bring together people who live in the Connecticut River estuary region (#4).

In 1972, a Clean Water Act was established to clean up farm waste and contaminants from the Connecticut River to enable the water to be used for water recreation and enjoyment and to make it a safe habitat for plant and animal life (#11).

In 1986, another Clean Water Act was passed to upgrade treatment plants and separate combined sewer systems. It also provided fish ladders to help fish spawn in areas that have been blocked by artificial dams (#5).

In 1991, US Fish and Wildlife Service established a wildlife refuge along part of the Connecticut River . This was done in an effort to help maintain natural habitats and prevent human overbuilding in this area (#11).

What can you do to help?
Everyday Environmental Helpers:

-Pick up litter in your neighborhood, so it does not get washed into the nearby rivers.
-Conserve water at home to reduce stress on the water supply.
-Buy products that reduce environmental waste or that can be recycled.
-Dispose of household toxins properly, so they do not pollute the rivers.
-Utilize public transportation to cut down on air pollution that gets redistributed when it rains.

Get Involved:

-Volunteer for environmental clean ups in your community.
-Read articles on pollution in your community to stay aware of pollution problems.
-Support your local Forest and Park Services.
-Encourage the use of EPA approved fertilizers in your community.
-Encourage family and community members to recycle.

Become an Environmental Advocate:

-Join a watershed monitoring program in your community.
-Volunteer at your watershed council; remember, no job is too small.
-Encourage your school to begin a recycling program.
-Write letters or email organizations to encourage laws and other legislation that are aimed at protecting the environment.

Addresses to Environmental Groups:

References

Other Related Web Sites

Return to Main Page

Hudson River

Where
is the river?
When
is the river used?
How
is the water affected?
Who
protects the river?
What
can you do to help?

Where is the Hudson River?
hudson river

The Hudson River begins in the Adirondack Mountains of New York until it reaches Albany, New York. From there, the river flows through the New York plateaus, between the Catskill Mountains, to the west, and the Green Mountains, to the East, until it reaches the eastern New York plains (#15). Once there, it empties into the Atlantic Ocean at Long Island Sound south of New York City.

When is the Hudson River used?
Along the Hudson River are situated: factories, mills, farms, and domestic housing. The river also supports a large amount of barge traffic (#13). This suggests the presence of artificial dams and alterations of the natural flow of water and aquatic habitats. The New York State Barge Canal, which connects the Hudson and Lake Erie, provides transportation of goods, but also extends the extent of pollution that is found in the Hudson River.

How is the Hudson River affected?
In 1996, the Hudson River was listed as one of the 10 most endangered rivers in the United States (#2). It had a high level of PCB contamination from a General Electric plant that had been dumping PCB oils into the river. GE is now responsible for the clean up of PCB oils in the Hudson (#12).

The Hudson River also has 12 hydropower dams that prevent fish from moving along the river, reduce the amount of water that can flow downstream, and destroy wildlife habitats (#1). These artificial blockages of the natural flow of the river are useful to humans for transportation purposes, but they have become a threat to other habitats along the coast of the Hudson River.

Who protects the Hudson River?
New York State's Adopt-a-Beach Program, Kingfisher Alternative Sewer System Program, and Coastweeks activities have all been developed by organizations in New York in order to control pollution and get people involved in this clean up (#10).

Croton Watershed Clean Water Coalition was developed to protect the Hudson's water supply at its source (#2).

FROGS Friends of the Great Swamp was founded by the Sierra Club to protect the wetlands of the lower Hudson (#2).

What can you do to help?
Everyday Environmental Helpers:

-Pick up litter in your neighborhood, so it does not get washed into the nearby rivers.
-Conserve water at home to reduce stress on the water supply.
-Buy products that reduce environmental waste or that can be recycled.
-Dispose of household toxins properly, so they do not pollute the rivers.
-Utilize public transportation to cut down on air pollution that gets redistributed when it rains.

Get Involved:

-Volunteer for environmental clean ups in your community.
-Read articles on pollution in your community to stay aware of pollution problems.
-Support your local Forest and Park Services.
-Encourage the use of EPA approved fertilizers in your community.
-Encourage family and community members to recycle.

Become an Environmental Advocate:

-Join a watershed monitoring program in your community.
-Volunteer at your watershed council; remember, no job is too small.
-Encourage your school to begin a recycling program.
-Write letters or email organizations to encourage laws and other legislation that are aimed at protecting the environment.

Addresses to Environmental Groups:

References

Other Related Web Sites

Return to Main Page

Susquehanna River

Where
is the river?
When
is the river used?
How
is the water affected?
Who
protects the river?
What
can you do to help?

Where is the Susquehanna River?

The Susquehanna River begins in the Catskill Mountains in New York, winds through Pennsylvania, and flows past the Allegheny Mountains, in the west, and the Appalacian Mountains, in the East. It flows through Harrisberg, Pennsylvania, travels on through Maryland, and empties into the Chesapeake Bay. There, the water flows past Annapolis, Maryland and passes into the Atlantic Ocean. The majority of the land over which water travels down the Susquehanna is plateau lands, but there are sections of the river that flow through mountains and plains (#15).

When is the Susquehanna River used?
The Susquehanna River is used domestically for drinking water, washing, and waste removal. It is used commercially for fishing, lumbering, dairy farming, and transportation (#15). The water from the Susquehanna also runs through mining operations and manufacturing plants.

Take a look at this map. Can you see all the different land uses in the Chesapeake Bay Area? This map shows how little streams in the area run through areas of different land uses and converge in a main river, the Susquehanna, that drains into the Chesapeake Bay. With all these uses, pollution is bound to occur.

How is the Susquehanna River affected?
Many of the wetlands in the areas surrounding the Susquehanna River are protected by governmental laws, but those that are not, are in danger of development. Sediments cause the water to become cloudy and block the sunlight from the water's bottom. This, in turn, kills plants and hurts animals that feed off those plants. Fertilizers from farm runoff and lawns provide the nutrients for algae to grow and cover the water's top, again blocking sunlight and also using up dissolved Oxygen in its rotting process. People also add to this problem through their garbage, sewage and oil dumping (#3).

Who protects the Susquehanna River?
In 1996, the US Geological Survey launched a campagin to create a satellite map of the Chesapeake Bay Region. This map will enable the effected areas surrounding the Bay to monitor and restore the natural resources being depleated in the Chesapeake Bay area (#3).

The Chesapeake Bay Program, composed of government officials from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC, the chairman of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, and a representative from the Environmental Protection Agency, was established to keep track of land use in the area around the Susquehanna River (#14).

SERC (Smithsonian Environmental Research Center) scientists are dedicated to finding ways to limit agricultural runoff that has been causing ecological problems in the bay (#17).

What can you do to help?
Everyday Environmental Helpers:

-Pick up litter in your neighborhood, so it does not get washed into the nearby rivers.
-Conserve water at home to reduce stress on the water supply.
-Buy products that reduce environmental waste or that can be recycled.
-Dispose of household toxins properly, so they do not pollute the rivers.
-Utilize public transportation to cut down on air pollution that gets redistributed when it rains.

Get Involved:

-Volunteer for environmental clean ups in your community.
-Read articles on pollution in your community to stay aware of pollution problems.
-Support your local Forest and Park Services.
-Encourage the use of EPA approved fertilizers in your community.
-Encourage family and community members to recycle.

Become an Environmental Advocate:

-Join a watershed monitoring program in your community.
-Volunteer at your watershed council; remember, no job is too small.
-Encourage your school to begin a recycling program.
-Write letters or email organizations to encourage laws and other legislation that are aimed at protecting the environment.
Addresses to Environmental Groups:

References

Other Related Web Sites

Return to Main Page

Addresses to Environmental Groups:

Clean Water Action Project
317 Pennsylvania Ave, S.E.
Washington, DC 20003
(201) 547-1196

Directory of Environmental Organizations
Educational Communications
P.O. Box 35473 Dept. E
Los Angeles, CA 90035

Environmental Protection Agency
401 M. Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20460
(202) 382-2090

Greenpeace
1432 U Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 462-1177

National Wildlife Federation
1412 16th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 637-3700

Sierra Club
730 Polk Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 776-2211

Other Related Websites:

Innovations for Science Classrooms @ http://www.cais.com/publish/stories/chapters.htm

New England Resource Protection Project @ http://www.epa.gov/ecoplaces/part1/site16.html

Reply to Ask-an-Earth-Scientist (pollution sources) @ http://www.soest.hawaii.edu/GG/ASK/waterpol3.html

Environmental Projects @ http://www.neiwpcc.org/projects.html

Environmental Posters:

Water: The Resource That Gets Used & Used & Used for Everything @ http: //water.usgs.gov/public/outreach/poster1/OutReach1.jpg

Wetlands: Water, Wildlife, Plants, and People @ http: //water.usgs.gov/public/outReach/poster2/Outreach2.jpg

How Do We Treat Our Waste Water? @ http: //water.usgs.gov/public/outreach/poster3/OutReach3.jpg

Ground Water: The Hidden Resource @ http: //water.usgs.gov/public/outreach/poster4/OutReach4.jpg

Water Quality: Potential Sources of Pollution @ http: //water.usgs.gov/public/outreach/poster5/OutReach5.jpg

Navigation: Traveling the Water Highways @ http: //water.usgs.gov/public/outreach/poster6/OutReach6.jpg

References:

(1) American Rivers Releases "10 Most Endangered US Rivers" List. [online]. (1996). Available: http: //www.voyagepub.com/publish [1997, October]

(2) Announced New York City Watershed Agreement May Imperil Water Quality in Westchester and in New York City. (1995) Available: MarianR451@AOL.com [1997, September].

(3) Chesapeake Bay. (1997). Available: http: //www.org.nms/The_Chesapeake_Bay.html [1997, September].

(4) The Connecticut River Estuary Regional Planning Agency.[online]. (1996). Available: http: //oldsaybrook.com/CRERPA/ [1997, October 14].

(5) Environmental Quality in Connecticut Rivers.[online]. (1995). Available: http: //www.fsu.edu/~cpm/segip/states/CT/AR95/rivers.html [1997, October].

(6) Lew, Alan A., Ph.D. (1996). Chapter 5:Eastern Mountain Region of the U.S.. [online]. Available: http: //www.for.nau.edu/~alew/ne-appl5.html#5-2 [1997, October 21].

(7) The Merrimack River Watershed, [online]. (1997). Available: http: //kingfish.ssp.nmfs.gov/coastamer/mrymack.html [1997, September].

(8) Merrimack subwatershed water quality violations, [online]. (1994). Available: http: //www.merrimack.org/merrviol.html [1997, November 4].

(9)New England Resource Protection Project, [online]. (1997). Available: http: //www.epa.gov/ecoplaces/part1/site16.html [1997, October].

(10) New York Coastal Management Program. (1995). Available: http: //www.nos.noaa.gov/ocrm/czm/czmnewyork.html [1997, September].

(11) Restoration of Connecticut River Shows Potential of Clean Water Act. [online]. (1996). Available: http://www.cais.com/publish/stories/0596wat2.htm [1997, October 14].

(12) Rivlin, Michael A. "Muddy Waters". The Amicus Journal: Winter 1998, V.19,No.4,P30.

(13) Smith, Patrick. (1996). Hudson River Struggles for Survival Amid Pollution and Development Challenges. [online] Available: http: //www.cais.com/publish/stories/0596wat3.html [1997, September].

(14) US Department of the Interior. (1996). New Satellite Map of Chesapeake Bay to Aid Management Efforts. [online]. Available: http: //www.usgs.gov/public/press/public_affairs/press_releases/pr142m.html/ [1997, October 14].

(15) The United States: Its History and Neighbors. Orlando: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. / Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., 1991.

(16) Watershed Information, [online]. (1996). Available: http: //www.merrimack.org/ [1997, October].

(17) Weller, Don, Ph.D. and Michelle Coffee. (1993). The Power of Maps. [online]. Available: http: //www.serc.si.edu/otr/spring94/PowerMap.html [1997, September 23].

Pictures and Maps:

Merrimack River Map adapted from: http://www.cais.com/publish/stories/0596wat3.htm

Connecticut River Map: http://www.cais.com/publish/stories/0596wat2.htm

Hudson River Map: http://www.cais.com/publish/stories/0596wat3.htm

Susquehanna River Maps: http://www.serc.si.edu/otr/spring94/PowerMap.html

US Map: http://www.graphicmaps.com/webimage/US.html

All other pictures: http://www.elated.com/freebies/buttonkits/animated2/

Background: http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Heights/1272/Icnsrv1.html