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Pittsburgh District Water Quality

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The Pittsburgh District encompasses a watershed area of approximately 67,000 square kilometers (26,000 square miles) in portions of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, New York and Maryland. Our jurisdiction includes more than 328 miles of navigable waterways, 23 navigation locks and dams, 16 multi-purpose flood damage reduction reservoirs, 42 local flood damage reduction projects and other projects to protect and enhance water resources and wetlands. Using a watershed-based approach, the Pittsburgh District’s Water Quality Team is responsible for monitoring and evaluating water quality in the Allegheny, Beaver, Monongahela and upper Ohio River basins in support of Water Management reservoir operations and other District elements. The Water Quality Team monitors physical, chemical, and biological parameters at river and lake project stations. Data collected are utilized to achieve the objectives of the water quality unit’s mission

The District’s Water Quality Program includes the following components:

1. Intensive monthly limnological surveys of at least one District Reservoir and its watershed each year, from spring through early winter, by the Water Quality Team with support from project staff. At a minimum, intensive surveys should be conducted at each District Reservoir once every ten years. Over 155 chemical and physical water quality parameters could be monitored, depending on site specific needs (i.e. dissolved oxygen, water temperature, pH, alkalinity, acidity, nutrients, metals, sulfate, chloride, bromide, hardness, conductivity, solids, organic compounds, radioisotopes, etc.)

2. An annual summer season intensive limnological survey at each District Reservoir, its watershed and also throughout the District navigation system, by the Water Quality Team, with support from project staff.

3. Routine collection of semi-monthly water quality samples at the outflows, some inflows and tributaries of all District reservoirs and some regulated river reaches by project staff, volunteers, and paid collectors.

4. Biological assessments of water quality, which includes benthic macroinvertebrates, fish, phytoplankton, zooplankton, and chlorophyll sampling, conducted throughout the District as required with support from project staff. Biological assessments are necessary to understand short and long term trends in water quality condition not readily detectable based on measurements of physical and chemical parameters alone.

 5. Continuous, real-time, water quality monitoring at over 35 reservoir operational control points located throughout the District, including reservoir inflows and outflows, downstream regulated river reaches, tributaries that impact operational benefits, and also in the pools of 12 reservoirs. Water quality parameters monitored include water temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, specific conductivity, oxidation reduction potential, turbidity, total dissolved gas, and barometric pressure. Continuous data for the water temperature buoy system and USGS water quality monitors can be accessed using the following links:

Water Temperature Buoys - https://www.wqdatalive.com/public/15 

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USGS Water Quality Monitoring Stations - http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/current/?type=quality&group_key=NONE

 6. The Water Quality Team conducts surveys in response to incidents that could impact the District’s Water Management or Natural Resource Management missions (e.g. oil, chemical, or wastewater spills; fish kills; harmful algal blooms (HABs)) Link to Incident Response.

 7. The District Water Quality Team coordinates with partners (e.g. State, Federal and NGOs) to leverage resources and eliminate duplication of effort.


To contact the Pittsburgh District Water Quality Team, email LRP-WaterQuality@usace.army.mil.

FOR QUESTIONS ABOUT PERMITS, please go to Regulatory's website at http://www.lrp.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory.aspx  or call (412) 395-7155.