America's millions of miles of rivers and streams are in terrible shape, an extensive Environmental Protection Agency survey has found. After sampling close to 2,000 locations ranging from the Mississippi to tiny streams, the EPA found that just a fifth of rivers and streams are in good enough biological shape to support healthy populations of aquatic life, the AP reports. Some 23% were classed as fair and a shocking 55% were considered poor.
Excessive nitrogen and phosphorus levels were among the biggest problems found, with conditions worse in the East than the West, the Los Angeles Times reports. Only 26% of rivers and streams were classed as poor in Western mountain areas, while 70% of rivers and streams from the Texas coast to New Jersey were in poor condition. "We must continue to invest in protecting and restoring our nation's streams and rivers as they are vital sources of our drinking water, provide many recreational opportunities, and play a critical role in the economy," an EPA spokeswoman says. (Read more river stories.)