Streams in Catskill Mountains still susceptible to acid rain



Precipitation in North America has become less acidic over the past 2 decades because of reduced power plant emissions and compliance with the Clean Air Act Amendments [Sirois, 19937rsqb;. The 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments were developed to reduce the acidity of sensitive surface waters, which are primarily in upland forested environments, where acidified waters and associated high aluminum concentrations are toxic to many species of aquatic flora and fauna [Schindler et al., 1989]. Our studies show that in spite of less acidic precipitation, the buffering capacity of streams in upland forests of the Catskill Mountains in southeastern New York has not increased in recent years. These data suggest that long-term leaching by acid rain has lowered exchangeable calcium ion concentrations in the soil in upland areas, where the underlying, slow-weathering bedrock provides an inadequate supply of cations to neutralize acidity.