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DEP using water insects to measure waterway health

Valley News-Dispatch - 12/11/2017

Dec. 11--The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is making public acquatic life sampling results from across the state. The data is publicly available in a GIS viewer with downloadable data sets.

Known as benthic macroinvertebrates, these are the insects and animals that spend most, if not all, of their lives underwater.

They can be mayflies or midges, crayfish or clams, or one of many other underwater species, and are one of the most important parts of the food chain that fish, birds, and other animals depend on.

"Because they spend almost their entire lives in the water, benthic macroinvertebrates are especially attuned to water quality," said Dustin Shull, Water Program Specialist for DEP. "They are an excellent way to gauge how healthy a particular section of stream or river is, and help DEP meet our obligations for monitoring water quality. This kind of biological assessment helps DEP see and assess long-term, cumulative effects of stressing factors on an ecosystem."

The DEP has developed unique collection methods to collect the acquatic life.

"This type of research is vital to decision-making that goes on at DEP," said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. "We use the data collected and analyzed by program staff when we're looking at how to clean up watersheds and improve water quality in backyards and communities across Pennsylvania. And we want to make sure that Pennsylvania residents can see the data we're collecting, so they can know more about what is happening in their own area."

You can learn more on the DEP website .

Retrieve sampling data here .

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4711, cbiedka@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ChuckBiedka.

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(c)2017 The Valley News-Dispatch (Tarentum, Pa.)

Visit The Valley News-Dispatch (Tarentum, Pa.) at www.triblive.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 
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