Paper Mill-Stream Study Reports Initial Findings

The first eight years of a comprehensive monitoring study to understand the effects of pulp and paper mill effluent discharges in four U.S. streams was reported in a special section in the April 2009 issue of the journal Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management.

The pulp and paper mill effluent study is a voluntary initiative funded by the forest products industry through membership in the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, a nonprofit research organization. The study is ongoing and expected to continue for several more years as a research program involving 27 scientists representing eight U.S. universities and research institutions. The work was not conducted in response to any state or federal regulatory requirements.

The four waterways included in the study have supported pulp and paper mills for several decades. The waterways are the Codorus Creek in Pennsylvania, the Leaf River in Mississippi, the McKenzie River in Oregon, and the Willamette River, also in Oregon. These streams represent both cold and warm water streams, a variety of mill processing types, and a range of effluent concentrations.

Because the impact of pulp and paper mill effluent on river ecology may vary due to natural seasonal or year-to-year differences and human use of the watershed, the study not only aims to address point-source effects from pulp and paper mill discharges but also aims to understand the larger spatial scale of any impacts at a watershed scale and over a multi-year time period. The ecological data collected from this study will allow the forest products industry to further refine future environmental strategies for pulp and paper companies by examining mill discharges with both short- and long- term changes to aquatic life. Replicating the study in four waterways provides a foundation for capturing and understanding variability in the natural environment.

To view the study, click here.