Acid Rain:

Federal Research Into Effects on Waters and Forests

RCED-86-7: Published: Dec 17, 1985. Publicly Released: Feb 20, 1986.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO: (1) discussed the status and future direction of the National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program's research to determine acid rain's effects on lakes, streams, and forests; and (2) provided information on funding the program's research effort.

GAO found that: (1) research directed at identifying the adverse effects of acid rain on lakes and streams included 81 projects at the end of fiscal year (FY) 1985; (2) initial task force analyses of research results indicate that certain lakes in the eastern states are acidic; (3) survey results on the condition of western lakes and eastern streams are not expected until late 1986; (4) a study of which eastern watersheds will protect waters from future acidification is due to be completed in December 1986; (5) estimates of fish population losses based on existing state agency data show that 400 to 500 Adirondack lakes can no longer sustain certain fish species; (6) the full extent of fish losses that can be attributed to acid deposition and the conditions under which such losses occur are not fully known; (7) a second phase of the water survey to determine the presence or absence of fish in acidic lakes will begin in the spring of 1986; (8) research directed at identifying the adverse effects of acid deposition on forests included 17 projects at the end of FY 1985; (9) it is estimated that the extent of forest decline and acid rain's role in forest change will not be known for 5 or more years; and (10) acid deposition research funding has increased from $29 million in FY 1984 to $65 million in FY 1985, and about 51 percent of this funding is slated for work on water and forest research.