Results of the University of Virginia Trout Stream Sensitivity Study

Happy little brook trout in clean water
Happy little brook trout in clean water

The results of the long term Virginia Trout Stream Sensitivity Study indicate that trout streams in Virginia are recovering from the effects of acidification, “though not as fast or as thoroughly as waters in some other parts of the country.” The increase in water quality between 2000 and 2010 was significant and much better than the small increase in quality from 1987 to 2000.

While that is very good news, Rick Webb, the project’s coordinator, warns that the improvement is still very relative. “Things have not fully recovered by any means,” said Webb. “Many of the streams that have been most impacted are likely not ever to recover, at least in a human time frame.”

It is interesting to note that amendments to the Clean Air Act of 1990 implemented a cap and trade system for sulfur dioxide emissions, the primary cause of acid rain and stream acidification. This program phased in the emissions targets gradually since 1990, and is credited with reducing S02 emissions by one third.

Read more at the VTSSS website and its partner site, The Shenandoah Watershed Study.

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