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A WATERSHED GLOSSARY

ACIDIC: a condition where the concentration of positively charged hydrogen ions is high, and the pH is less than 7.0. (see pH)

ACID MINE DRAINAGE (AMD): water which is affected by passage through, or alteration by, coal or abandoned coal mine environments. Acid mine drainage can have acceptable water quality, but often it is contaminated. Contaminated acid mine drainage lowers water quality and kills aquatic life (fish, insects, etc.). Contaminated acid mine drainage most often has these characteristics:

  • Low pH (high acidity)
  • High metals concentrations
  • Elevated sulfate levels
  • Excessive sediment and siltation
  • Acid concentrations in streams can kill many life forms and stunt the growth of others. Acidic water can also break down the metallic compounds of iron, sulfur, manganese, and aluminum found in nearby rock or earthen waste piles.

ACID MINE PRECIPITATION: substances which are leached out by the acidic mine water are called precipitates. Metals are commonly leached out of the AMD, and may be visible by the color of the deposits left behind.

  • White indicates high levels of dissolved aluminum
  • Black indicates manganese when it appears as a dark stain on creek rocks
  • Orange indicates oxidized iron, which takes on a rusty color, and gives contaminated creeks their orange/yellow color

ALKALINITY (BASIC): a measure of the ability of a solution to absorb positively charged hydrogen ions without a significant change in pH. Also referred to as buffering capacity. Alkaline solutions have a pH greater than 7.0. (see pH)

AQUATIC HABITAT: areas suited for fish and other creatures which live in wet conditions.

BENEFICIAL USE DESIGNATION: states how the water resource is used by humans and how well it supports the biological community.

  • aquatic life use designation – the type and grade of the biological community that a streams supports. Indicates the health of the stream.
  • recreational use, water supply, and state resource water – other described beneficial use designations

BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES (BMPs): management or structural practices designed to reduce the quantities of pollutants, such as sediment, fertilizers, animal wastes, etc. that enter nearby streams, lakes, wetlands, and groundwater.

BOD (BIOCHEMICAL OXYGEN DEMAND): a measure of the amount of oxygen necessary to decompose organic materials in a volume of water. As the amount of organic waste in water increases, more oxygen is used, resulting in a high BOD.

BOND FORFEITURE: companies actively mining coal must post a $2,500 bond per acre mined. If the mine operator fails to reclaim the land, the bond is forfeited to the Division of Mines and Reclamation (ODNR), and is used for reclamation costs.

CHANNELIZATION: an engineering technique to straighten, widen, deepen or otherwise modify a natural stream channel.

DISCHARGE: the quantity of water flowing past a particular point on a stream, usually measured in cubic feet per second (cfs).

DRAINAGE BASIN: area that contributes surface water to a particular stream system.

EFFLUENT: any material that flows outward from something; examples include waste water from treatment plants and water discharged into streams from abandoned coal mines.

FLOCCULATE: metal precipitates which build up in streams as sediment.

FLOODPLAIN: flat area adjacent to a stream in a river valley.

GAUGING STATION: location at a stream channel where discharge of water is measured.

GOB PILE: an area covered by low grade coal waste. Gob piles can range greatly in size, from very small areas, to dozens of acres, and are known contributors to acid mine drainage.

GROUNDWATER: water found beneath the surface of the earth within the zone of saturation.

HYDROLOGY: the study of surface and subsurface water.

LEACHING: process of dissolving, washing, or draining earth materials by percolation of groundwater or other liquids.

MACROINVERTEBRATE: crustaceans (such as crayfish), insects (without a backbone) and worms, which assemble in semi-permanent populations. Study of the presence of various macroinvertebrates provides a good environmental indicator of stream health because many species are known to be either pollution tolerant or intolerant.

MITIGATION: the process of finding solutions to reduce the severity of flood damage.

pH: a value expressed in standard units on a scale of 0-14, that expresses the concentrations of hydrogen ions. pH readings below a 7 are considered ACIDIC, while pH readings above 7 are said to be BASIC, or alkaline. Many species are tolerant of lower pH values (more acidic waters), however many are not. Healthier streams are indicated by being closer to the neutral point of pH 7.

NONPOINT SOURCE POLLUTION: water pollution that results from a variety of human land uses, such as agriculture, surface mines, forestry activities, home wastewater systems, and construction sites, among others. These pollution sources cannot be controlled at a single location, and can only be curbed the implementing land management practices at multiple levels.

RIPARIAN AREA: the area in and directly adjacent to a stream.

SINKHOLE: surface depression formed by solution of limestone or collapse over a subterranean void such as an old mine.

SUBSIDENCE: the settling of waste piles or other areas at mine sites which causes the surface of the land to sink.

SURFACE WATER: waters on the surface of the earth.

SUSPENDED LOAD: sediment in a stream or river channel carried off by the bottom fluid.

SUSTAINABILITY: a concept to describe community/economic
development in terms of meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

WATERSHED: an area of land from which water drains toward a single channel (stream).

305 (B) REPORT: a biennial water quality report is required of each state by the Clean Water Act. Also referred to as the Water Resource Inventory, which evaluates the water quality of all navigable waters of the state, inventories point sources of pollution, and identifies which waters are in attainment of state water quality standards.

319 NONPOINT SOURCE POLLUTION CONTROL PROGRAM: The Clean Water Act requires each state to develop a nonpoint source state management program. A limited amount of funding is available for nonpoint source pollution control projects. Applications are first reviewed by the Ohio EPA. Since its conception, the MCRP has utilized six 319 grants to fund projects throughout the watershed.

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