Some wetlands are degraded when food, fiber, or forest products are harvested. Others are affected when irrigation ditches are built & maintained. Inefficient irrigation can cause pesticides, nutrients pathogens (disease-carrying microscopic organisms), & salts to build up in the soil.
Agricultural animal waste can contaminate nearby wetlands if not disposed of properly. Another effect of farm animals on nearby wetlands is overgrazing, which exposes soil. Agricultural pesticides also harm wetlands.
Many landfills are located one mile or less from a wetland. Many of the substances that leak from a landfill are extremely toxic to wetland organisms. Sludge & wastewater treatment plant effluent can cause algal blooms.
Condition indicators reflect actual watershed conditions & include the presence of contaminated sediments & whether water bodies are meeting their designated needs. Vulnerability indicators are measures of risk & include human population change & building of water diversion structures.
Restoration of streamside buffers should occur on both private & government owned lands. Existing streamside buffers should be conserved to protect & improve forest diversity. Public education should provide an understanding of the importance of streamside buffers to both present-day & future Pennsylvanians. Public relations activities should raise awareness about streamside buffers. Data on streamside buffer programs should be shared.
Streamside forests safeguard water supplies, provide flood control, can be used to manage storm water, offer recreational & educational opportunities for people, & provide windbreak, shade, & scenery to an area.
Floods are important to a watershed because they move nutrients & organic materials downstream & enrich a river’s flood plain. Floods can destroy wetland forests & carry organisms from their habitats. Flooding can also trigger landslides.
Droughts reduce the volume of water in a watershed, which can have adverse effects on the organisms in the watershed. Periods of drought can cause suitable breeding & feeding grounds to disappear.
Increases in sea level can flood coastal wetlands & cause them to shift toward land. Rising sea level also causes saltwater to move into coastal wetlands, changing wetland chemistry & affecting organisms.
Drought can cause vegetation to wither & die. This, in turn, reduces the food supply to other organisms in the watershed.
A drought watch is a period during which people are alerted to the possibility of drought & asked to try to reduce water consumption by 5%.
A drought warning is a period during which measures are taken to avoid or reduce shortages, to relieve stressed sources of water, & to find new sources of fresh water. The goal during a drought warning is to reduce overall water uses by 10 to 15%.
A drought emergency is a period during which people are asked or even required to reduce water consumption by at least 15%.
Farmers lost crops & livestock. Wells ran dry. People, agencies, & industries had to reduce their water consumption by at least 15%. Coastal wetlands experienced changes in salinity that affected grasses, waterfowl, crustaceans, & some fishes.