View Full Version : question on water quality of smnp streams

02-10-2008, 02:35 PM
when you read or hear about about how nutrient poor the smnp streams are---what nutrients are "they" talking about--Calcium?---is it possibe to treat the streams to increase nutrient richness?Is the relative low levels of of nutrients in thehigher altitude streams responsible for the small size of the smnp brookies?

02-10-2008, 04:00 PM
lauxier, part of the problem is the lack of rock formations for water filtration (limestone (Calcium) but an abundance of manganese, which along with the sulfur dioxide contributes to a higher acidic level in the streams. Given the amount of waterways in the park, it would be an impossible task for remediation.

02-10-2008, 05:57 PM
anakeesta ore also contributes to acidity and toxicity

02-10-2008, 06:46 PM
Sam beat me to it, but here is an article that explains the problems with the anakeesta and slate formations.


02-10-2008, 08:05 PM
a friend told me auto emissions are the park's real enemy,during vacation time,pollution is very high,so high,it gets worse every year,certain plants,and.. water quality could be affected

02-10-2008, 09:44 PM
Actually, most of the EPA water quality surveys I've seen online indicate very good to excellent water quality from most of the streams flowing out of the park. The anakeesta sections are the exception; the water is very clean, but naturally acidic and nutrient-poor, the obvious exception being Abrams. Also, the higher one goes on a stream, the more acidic it tends to get - the brookies are more tolerant of such conditions, and therefore thrive there. The air pollution is a long-term problem for the plant life, and that could affect the streams adversely, but even if all emissions were eliminated, these streams still would be nutrient-poor...this of course limits the biomass that can be supported, so these fish are geared to live relatively short lives - once they reach a certain size, there isn't enough food for them to eat in order to maintain their size, and they starve to death.

02-11-2008, 12:57 AM
Lauxier, everyone else here said it well, but I'll try to explain a bit more. When you hear that a particular water has "low nutrients" or "low productivity," it usually means low calcium and phosphorous, which also usually means high acidity, or at the least, minimal pH buffers.

It's related to "hard" vs "soft" water... Hard water has lotsa calcium and other minerals in it, and soft doesn't. Hard water gets soap off your hands, and soft water doesn't.

As you would guess, the more nutrients, the more productivity you get, and if you keep adding them you eventually get pea soup from the massive plankton biomass. A mud puddle on farm land might be extremely productive and have many nutrients.

Insect and crawdad exoskeletons, and fish scales and skeletons all (directly and indirectly) require the minerals in hard water. So when you have low nutrients, you usually have less fish and bugs than might otherwise be there. In the Southern Appalachians, that's the norm. It's not necessarily a bad thing; as the organisms in such places adapt to live there. But it also can mean that given 2 streams of the same size, one might support more and bigger trout than the other. But, if it gets too much nutrients (like from farm runoff) it may not have trout at all.

Some scientists have figured out that a simple way to fix some of these Anakeesta problems is to just add small limestone gravel to streams. That can dramatically help a small, acid, and nutrient-poor stream to support more bugs and trout.