Most Perry County streams are healthy. However, about 21 miles (out of 1500) are impaired. A stream is determined to be impaired by the Department of Environmental Protection when it does not support its designated use. In Perry County, that designated use is generally the stream’s ability to support wildlife.
Perry’s streams are in the Susquehanna River Basin (93.9M, 93.9N and 93.9O).
You can check out Perry County stream designations at the following website.
Impairment can be the result of point source or non-point source pollution that results in excess nutrients, excess sediment or other harmful pollutants such as bacteria or chemicals. In Perry County, the predominant cause of impairment is siltation resulting from surrounding erosive land use practices. Siltation is the accumulation of sediments or soils in excess of what the stream channel can transport. This results in the smothering of habitat for stream wildlife, and negatively impacts biological diversity and water quality.
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Practices to Improve and Protect Stream Health
The accumulation of sediment in Perry County streams is directly related to land use practices in the watershed. Watersheds are impacted by all of our actions in many different ways. Land use practices that remove vegetation or disturb soil in the stream corridor have a dramatic impact on stream quality. There are a number of Best Management Practices (BMPs) that property owners, farmers, and construction and road crews can apply to protect and improve Perry County’s streams.
Property owners can implement the following practices to improve stream health:
- Maintain an existing buffer or plant a riparian buffer along the stream on your property.
- Remove invasive plants and plant native species.
- Do not use pesticides within 100 feet of the stream.
- Do not put yard waste or household refuse in or near the stream.
- Volunteer with your local watershed group, or start one for your watershed. In Perry County, there were two watershed groups in years past; the Shermans Creek Conservation Association and the Juniata Clean Water Partnership. Both are not currently active.
Agricultural and erosion control land use practices or BMPs that are commonly used to promote healthy streams are:
- Riparian Buffers
- Conservation Tillage
- Cattle Crossings
- Cattle Walkways
- Stream Bank Fencing
- Proper Dirt Road Maintenance
- Erosion and Sediment Control Practices
Currently, installing or using BMPs is completely voluntary, and is intended to be a practical, reasonably cost effective method to protect soil and water quality. In the event that a stream is on the impaired list, a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) study may be required by the Department of Environmental Protection at a future time. Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) is the amount of a particular pollutant that a particular stream, lake, estuary or other water body can 'handle' without violating state water quality standards.
Find out more on our TMDL page.