Water Quality
Assessment for the
OHIO RIVER MAIN STEM
 I Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio I
                   WORK DOCUMENT 49
              UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
                     REGION III
                   WHEELING FIELD OFFICE
                 SURVEILLANCE & ANALYSIS DIVISION

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Regional Center for Environmental Information
            US EPA Region III
               1650 Arch St.
           Philadelphia, PA 19103

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       WATER QUALITY ASSESSMENT REPORT

            OHIO RIVER MAIN STEM
                   By
          LARRY A. PARKER,  P.E.
       SUPERVISORY SANITARY ENGINEER
     U. S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
REGION III, SURVEILLANCE AND ANALYSIS DIVISION
             WHEELING FIELD OFFICE
            WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA

                   JUNE
                                     ^imc^phia.jVi iC-iOij

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                        DESCRIPTION





     The Ohio River main stem is formed at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania



with the confluence of the Allegheny River (11,705 sq. miles) and



the Monongahela River (7,384 sq. miles).  It flows in a westerly



direction for 40 miles in Pennsylvania to form the boundary of Ohio



and West Virginia, where its course is changed generally to a souther-



ly direction.  The Ohio River becomes the boundary of Kentucky and



Ohio 317 miles below Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.



     This report is concerned with the 317 mile reach of river from



Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to the West Virginia-Kentucky boundary.



The first 40 miles of the Ohio River lie totally in the State of



Pennsylvania, while the next 277 mile reach is the boundary between



Ohio and West Virginia.   By the original boundary of the early



colonies, the Ohio River is considered to be within the jurisdiction



of West Virginia to the low water mark of the State of Ohio shore as



defined by court action near the turn- of the twentieth1 centur>.

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                   WATER QUALITY ASSESSMENT REPORT
                  OHIO RIVER MAIN STEM  (M.P. 0-317)
INTRODUCTION

     The purpose of this document is to provide answers to four

questions:  (1) what is the current water quality situation;

(2) why does the situation exist; (3) what has been the trend in

recent years; (4) what will the water quality be in years to come?

In reviewing the Ohio River main stem in 1973, identification is made

of (a) significant river reaches that already meet the 1983 goal of

water quality adequate for swimming and for the protection and propa-

tion of fish and wildlife, as outlined in Section 101 of the 1972 Water

Pollution Control Act Amendments, and (b) river reaches that are ex-

pected to achieve the 1983 goal by 1977, 1983 or some later date.


     This document is a summary in nature and is not intended to pro-

vide a detailed analysis of the water quality of the basin or to ex-

amine all the present or potential factors which act upon the water

quality of the river.  This report^onlyjcoversMthe Ohio River main stem

and minor tributaries, and does not consider any of the large or major

tributaries.  The information contained in this document is based pri-

marily on surveillance and monitoring activities carried out by the

EPA, Region III, Surveillance and Analysis Division, Wheeling Field

Office, plus appropriate data from State and other Federal agencies.

This document should provide a starting point for the detailed examina-

tion of needs, priorities, standards, load limitations and other factors

to meet the 1983 goal

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METHODOLOGY


     Only minor tributaries having a total drainage area of more

than 100 square miles were considered for review except where known


water quality problems existed.  The major tributaries such as the

Allegheny, Monongahela, Beaver, Little Kanawha, Kanawha, Guyandotte

and Big Sandy Rivers are not part of this document.



     The criteria for classifying the Ohio River and minor tribu-

taries are listed in Table I.  Although these criteria include infor-

mation for both cold and warm water fishery, only warm water conditions

can be considered for the Ohio River.  In general, data are limited for

taste and odor, and total dissolved gases content with respect to the

existing atmospheric conditions.


                                                 r^'o-
     The EPA Wheeling Field Office has conducted routine water qual-

ity monitoring ajetiv*t*es on the 317 mile reach of the Ohio River for


several years for about 9 permanent stations and 7 tributary stations

as shown in Table II and the i*s*mapSin the back of this report.  In
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                                                             k

THE CURRENT WATER QUALITY SITUATION


     The Water Quality Summary (Table III) includes a review of


the 317 miles of the Ohio River and minor tributaries that have any


water quality problems.  Nine minor tributaries did not meet water


quality standards prior to 1970.   Recent State and EPA data indicate

                                         *t4iAJ
that two of these minor tributaries have obtained secondary recreation


and warm water fishery quality at the present time.  Some of the de-


graded minor tributaries have long term problems that need immediate


attention .



Minor Tributaries


     Saw Mill Run (mouth at Ohio River M.P. 1.0), a small tributary in


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has been the subject of much publicity be-


cause of domestic sewage pollution.  Many broken sewers run into the


creek causing the stream to be septic at times.  Although solution to
the problem is simpie, action * -s-iwf-'io constructing' a new sewerage
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system by the &ty--of Pittsburgh.


     Chartiers Creek, which has its mouth at Ohio River M.P. 2.S, has


a drainage area of 278.1 sq. miles.  This sub basin has acid mine


drainage problems, which degrade much of the stream.  About 57 miles of


this tributary has lower than desired pH with high acidity content.


There are also several local domestic sewage problems which contaminate


the stream.   The water quality improvements to this stream will be slow


tn developing.

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     Raccoon Creek, which has its mouth at Ohio River, M.P. 29.5,



has a drainage area of 183.9 sq. miles.  Over 54 miles of stream



are affected by acid mine drainage with a pH as low as 3.4 recorded.



The Wheeling Field Office made a detailed field investigation of this



area in 1968.  Its present water quality is poor, and improvements



will be slow in developing.





     The Little Beaver River, which empties into the Ohio River at



M.P. 39.5 has a drainage area of 102 sq. railes.  Some localized acid



mine drainage caused problems prior to 1970, but this has shown more



recent improvement.





     Harmon Creek has continued to have problems over the years at



its mouth at Weirton, West Virginia at Ohio River, M.P. 66.7 because



of acid mine drainage, sedimentation and industrial pollution from the



Weirton Steel Division mill.  The industrial problems have been im-



proved over the years because of the use o oil separation and holding



lagoons.  Acid mine drainage and sedimentation caused by highway and



dam construction continues to cause problems in this watershed.  The



Wheeling Field Office has investigated this stream several times over



the last 9 years.





     For many years, Wheeling Creek has had localized domestic sewage



and acid mine drainage, which affected the stream at Wheeling, West



Virginia, Ohio River M.P. 90.6.  The active coal mines in this sub

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basin have installed neutralizing facilities, which have improved



the quality of the stream.  Some localized domestic wastes still get



into ;ae stream at times.  Field investigations have been made by the



Wheeling Field Office on many occasions showing that more partici-



pation is needed by the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department.






     Sandy and Mill Creeks in Jackson County, West Virginia have had



sediment problems over the years, which have affected stream quality.



Better land use principles and the possible construction of small dams



should improve this situation, but present conditions



are still poor at times.






     Twelvepole Creek which has its mouth at Huntington, West Virginia



at Ohio River M.P. 313.2 has had a variety of water quality problems.



These include domestic wastes, acid mine drainage and. sediment.  This



stream does not meet water quality criteria.  More active county par-



ticipation is needed.






     Ail of the minor tributaries in the study area are potentially



suitable for warm water fish and wildlife, if proper treatment and



control is provided.






Ohio Riyer Main SteE



     The quality of the Ohio River main stem has been affected by a



number of factors.  The large concentration of industry has the most



influence, although some localized problems exist at certain munici-



palities because of improper treatment of domestic wastes.

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     The Ohio River from the "Point" at Pittsburgh to above Hew



Martinsville, West Virginia has had oil, and related industrial prob-




lems "hat have affected the river at several points.  Low dissolved



oxygen has occurred below the Allegheny County Sanitary Author.Uv1



sewage treatment plant at M.P. 3,1 at times because of only primary



treatment of over 100 million gallons per day of domestic sewage.



This condition should improve with the operation of the new secondary



sewage treatment plant.  The various steel mills have caused high phe-



nolic concentrations in the river that caused taste and odor problems



in public water supplies.  Higher than desired total coliform and fecal



coliform have occurred on occasion.  Artificial substrate sampling has



shown that with the exception of sludge worms, the samples generally



contained few organisms.  The low number of kinds and the low populations



at most sampling points suggest the presence of toxic materials.  Though



ALCOSAN discharges organic materials at M.P. 3.2, animals that would in-



crease their population because of the increased food supply were found



in low numbers indicating the presence of toxic materials.






     The number of kinds of fish inhabiting waters are an indication of



the water quality.  Since 1957, a number of fish studies have been con-



ducted in this reach of the Ohio River.  These have involved sampling



the populations in the lock chambers at the Emsworth, Dashields, and



Montgomery Dams.

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     A July 1959 study at Montgomery Locks and Darn produced 21 fish



species, which is the greatest number collected in this reach of



river.  This study was conducted following a long closure of the steel



industries by a labor strike.  The principal difference in species com-



position was the occurrence of pollution sensitive fishes that invaded



the previously polluted area.  Six of these species, collected in the




study after the industry closure, were not collected previously in the




lock chambers, nor have they been collected since.






     This upper reach of the Ohio ftiver often contains chemicals and ma-



terials which show foam, scum, and oil on the surface.  The City of Wells-



burg, West Virginia (population 4,600) does not have a sewage treatment



plant.  The river is slowly improving because of some industrial treat-



ment.  The current condition in this reach is better now than before 1970,



but it still does not meet water quality criteria at all times.






     The Ohio River from New Martinsviile, West Virginia at M.P. 128



to a point above Marietta,  Ohio at M.P. 172 has had good quality water



for secondary recreation and warm water fishery.  The fish composition



observed at M.P. 129.1 indicates improvement of water quality downstream



of the first 100 miles of the Ohio River.  The predominance of channel



catfish and sunfishes (including the bases), along with a decrease in



the carp and bullheads is indicative of more favorable conditions for



pollution sensitive fishes.  In general, the ;,"ish populations are satis-



factory from New Martinsville, West Virginia, to Marietta, Ohio.  Industries

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must guard against spills in this reach and new industrial develop-



ment must provide adequate treatment,





     The Ohio River from Marietta, Ohio to below Parkersburg, West



Virginia at M.P. 200 did not meet water quality criteria before 1970



because of municipal and industrial conditions.  High total colifona



and fecal coliform often existed along with specific contaminants from



industry that appeared on an intermittent basis.  These conditions have



improved and the present water quality parameters meet secondary recre-



ation and warm water fishery criteria.  Industries on the Ohio River



and tributaries in this reach, such as Union Carbide, Goodrich, DuPont,



Marbon, Shell, Chemical and others must remain on alert for not allowing



chemical spills to occur.  Industrial expansion must include appropriate



waste treatment.





     The Ohio River from the Belleville Dam to the mouth of the



Kanawha River at M. P. 265 has been one of the best reaches of river



in the past.  This segment met secondary recreation and warffi water



fishery before 1970 and has improved to the primary level at the



present time.





     Although the Kanawha River had some minor influences on the Ohio



River from M.P.  265 to 305, this reach of river met secondary warm



water criteria in the past.  It has not changed at the present time



since some of these influences still exist pliu isolated discharges



of chemical wastes from the industries.  The secondary criteria desig-



nation may be upgraded in the future as the Kanawha River improves and



individual industries improve their treatment.

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     The reach of the river from M.P. 305 to the Kentucky State Line at




M.P. 317 did not meet water quality criteria prior to 1970, because



of problems associated with local industry and river traffic handling



problems o many types of commodities.  These conditions still remain



about the same way.  The river is often covered with coal fines, scums,



oil and other materials.  Conditions are often variable depending on



the local activity.






     The pre-1970 and present 1973 Ohio River conditions are shown on



the attached maps with respect to meeting the water quality criteria*



The tables and additional maps also show projected 1977 and 1983 water



quality conditions.  In general, overall water quality improvement



should prevail, but localized intermittent discharges will continue to



cause problems until responsible parties face up to their duties 100%



of the time.






FACTORS AFFECTING WATER QUALITY



     Water quality conditions in the Ohio River can be very changeable



depending on how wastes from steel mills, coke ovens, chemical plants,



power plants, barge loading and other industries are operated on a



day-by-day basis.  The continuous discharging of any wastes can be



detrimental to the river.



     From time to time some steel culls have discharged phenolic



materials which could not be degraded or oxidized by river conditions.



These materials were sometimes accumulated in th-s river from one plant



site to another until the river concentration was great enough to



cause taste and odor problem? at municipal water intakes.  Proper treat-



ment schemes are available for reducing this problem.  The public should

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                                                            1.1




not be subjected to wastes that affect entire water supplies.






     Solids or sediment materials can. cause water quality problems at



many locations.  Industrial plants on the Ohio River can discharge



many kinds of both dissolved and suspended solids that, have not been



properly removed from their processes.  Poor land use can also cause



the run-off of many sediment materials that wjll decrease water qual-



ity.  Some of the solid materials can be seen floating such as scums



from chemical processes., and coal fines from loading facilities.






     Other industrial sources that affect water quality include oils,



chemicals, heat and toxicants.  Each of these materials require dif-



ferent treatment, systems, but technology is available to improve these



conditions,








     Coal mining activities have very serious conditions that can



affect streams and rivers.  Acid mine drainage is derived from air



and water contacting pyrite which is usually in and around coal



deposits,  The pyrite contains compounds of sulfur and iron.  As the



coal is extracted, the pyrites are exposed to oxygen and water which



react by oxidizing the pyrite.  The resulting products are washed,



seeped or pumped from the mines until they eventually reach a stream.



The total reaction is completed in the stream which is then burdened



with acids, sulfates, iron oxides and other dissolved materials such



as aluminum, magnesium, manganese and calcium.   Untreated acid water



from deep mines and ,~cid water carrying sediment from surface mines



and refuse piles cause some localised pollution problems in some of



the minor tributaries of the Ohio River in Pennsylvania and northern

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West Virginia.






     Domestic sewage causes some localized problems in the minor trib-



utaries and Ohio River main stem.  This is visible in small streams



as gray septic water completely void of aquatic life and by the appear-



ance of suspended solids and floating matter in larger streams.






WATER QUALITY TRENDS



     Most industries, including mining, have been making steady progress



in reducing water pollution.  The gradual clean up of the Ohio River



should continue, provided new industry will actively pursue the use of



the latest treatment technology.  State and Federal regulations are



becoming strict, but fair to all industries and municipalities.  EPA



now has several years of water quality monitoring data on file to make



appraisals of future conditions.






     Water pollution control is a continuing activity that will require



experienced people to follow-up for many years to come.  Water from



abandoned mines in small tributaries to the Ohio River will continue



to cause localized pollution problems until public funds can solve



this vast problem.  The problem of inadequate sewage treatment should



be corrected as each and every community provides both collection



systems and adequate treatment facilities.






     It is assumed that a great effort will be undertaken to improve



water quality by 1983.   Active and abandoned nv:nc drainage sources



will be reduced,, sewage treatment plants will be built, operation of



treatment facilities will be improved and new technology will be



developed.   Overall vvater qual.it>' should be improved.

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                                 Taole  1
                       Water Quality Requirements  For
                         Recreation and Fishery Uses
Primary Recreation
 Cold Water Fishing
Fecal

PH

Dissolved Oxygen

Temperature

Color

Turbidity

Dissolved Solids

Taste and Odor



Total Dissolved Gases
Primary Recreation
 Warm Water Fishery
Fecal Coliform

PH

Dissolved Oxygen

Temperature

Color

Turbidity

Dissolved Solids

Taste and Odor
Water contact sports such as swimaing,
water skiing, which involves risk of
ingesting water.  Protection and pro-
pagation of cold water fish species(Trout),

  <  200/100 ral geor^tric ne^ji

     6.5 to 8.3

  >  6.0 ffig/1 daily average

  <  68 F or 5 F over natural temp.

  >  1 raeter visibility of Secchi disc

  <  10 Jackson Candle Units

   < 500 n>g/l or 1/3 above natural conditions

     none detectable in water contact use
     or amount which will impart taste in
     fish

  <  110% of existing atmospheric condition


Water contact sports such as swimming,,
water sk.vi.ng, which involves risk of in-
gest Jng water.  Protection and propagation
of warm water fish species; i.e. basses,
catfish^ etc.

  <  200/100 ml geometric ffir-an

     6.5 to 8.3

  >  4.0 rag/1;   S.O mg/1 daily average

  <  90 F or 5 F over mitirral temperature

  >  .1 meter visibility of Secchi disc

  <  10 Jackson Candle Units

  <  300 Bif/I C.T 1/3 ahc-vo natural conditions

     nonu detectable in water contact use
     or amount which will impart taste in
     fish
Total Dissolved Gases
        *> of existing atmospheric conditions

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Secondary Recreation
 Cold Water Fishery
Total Colifona

pH

Dissolved Oxygen

Temperature


Turbidity

Dissolved Solids


Taste and Odor


Total Dissolved Gases
All other recreation uses except those
that risk ingesting water.  Protection
ft propagation of cold water fish species
(Trout).

  <  10,000/100 ml geometric mean

     6.0 to 9.0

  >  6.0 aig/i daily average

  <  68 F or S F over natural tem-
     perature

  <  10 Jackson Candle Units

  <  1/3 above natural conditions
     None that will impart taste to fish
     flesh

  <  110% o existing atmospheric conditions
Secondary Recreation
 Warm Water Pi shery
Total Colifonu

PH

Dissolved Oxygen

Temperature

Turbidity

Dissolved Solids

Taste and Odor

Total Dissolved Gases
All other recreation uses except those
that risk ingesting water.  Protection 
propagation of v&rm water fish species,
i.e. basses., catfish, etc.

   <  10,000/100 au geometric mean

     6.0 to 9,0

   >  4.0 rag/1;   5,0 mg/1 daily average

   <  90 F or 5 P over natural conditions

   <  50 Jackson Candle Units

   <  I/S above natural conditions

     None that will impart taste to fish flesh

   <  11Ol of existing atmospheric conditions

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                                  Table  II
                                UNITED  STATES
                       fcNVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGidNCY
                              Wheeling  Field Office
                            Wheeling,  West  Virgin}a
                        Routine  Chemical  and Physical
*1.
*2.
*3.
4.
*5.
*6.

7.
8.
9.
no.
ni.
*12.
13.
14,
15.
16.
Station No.
410851
410551
410586
410804
550349
550147

550169
550366
382521
550171
550381
550166
550221
550379
550380
200014
Years
1964-73
1964-73
1966-73
1968-73
1967-73
1966-73

1966-73
1968-73
1969-73
1966-73
1968-73
19(56-73
1966-73
1968-73
1968-73
1968-73
Surveillance Stations
Description
Allegheny River @ 6th Street Bridge
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
MonoHgahela River  Siaithfield St.
Bridge, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Ohio River at South Heights, Penn-
sylvania
Beaver River @ Rt 18 Br:idge
Ohio River  Pennsylvania ~
West Virginia State Line
Ohio River at Wheeling., West Vir-
ginia
Ohio River at New Martinsville,
West Virginia
Ohio River at Marietta  Ohio
above Muskingmn River
Muskinguus River at mouth
Ohio River at Old Lock 19
OhJ o River at Kyger Creek
Kariawha River at mouth
Ohio River above Gallipolis Dam
Gu/andotte River at mouth
Big Sandy River near uouth
Ohio River downstream of Big Sandy
Mile Point
0.5
0.8
16.0
3.0
40.0
86.7

128.0
172.0
5.7
192.0
261.2
0.5
278.5
0.5
2.5
317.2
                                 River at West Virginia - Kentucky
                                 Siate Line
*Pestic.ide sample station - May and September

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   OHIO
2000|4
 550380'
                       OHIO RIVER MAIN STEM

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                            KEY TO TABLE III
SYMBOL
 *
 A
 Primary Recreation and Cold. Water Fishery
 Primary Recreation and Warm Water Fishery
               Secondary Recreation and Cold Water Fishery
               Secondary Recreation and Warm Water Fishery
               Not suitable for recreation and/or Fishery
SYMBOL

 EPA

 WV

 AMD

 DW

 IW

 FC

 TC
 U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, Wheeling Field Office

 West Virginia Department of Natural Resources

Acid Mine Drainage

 Domestic Wastes

 Industrial Wastes

 Fecal Coliform

 Total Coliform

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r

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          MAP  KEY
PRIMARY AND COLD WATER
PRIMARY AND WARM WATER
SECONDARY AND COLD WATER
SECONDARY AND WARM WATER
DOES NOT MEET CRITERIA
*
                                              PRE-1970
                                    OHIO RIVER MAIN STEM

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          MAP KEY
PRIMARY AND COLD WATER
PRIMARY AND WARM WATER
SECONDARY AND COLD WATER
SECONDARY AND WARM WATER
DOES NOT MEET CRITERIA
*
                                               PRESENT-1973
                                    OHIO RIVER MAIN STEM

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          MAP KEY
PRIMARY AND COLD WATER



PRIMARY AND WARM WATER



SECONDARY AND COLD WATER



SECONDARY AND WARM WATER



DOES NOT MEET CRITERIA
*
                                               1977
                                    OHIO RIVER MAIN STEM

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          MAP KEY
PRIMARY AND COLD WATER



PRIMARY AND WARM WATER



SECONDARY AND COLD WATER



SECONDARY AND WARM WATER



DOES NOT MEET CRITERIA
*
                                                  1983
                                     OHIO RIVER MAIN STEM

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                                References



1.  "Pennsylvania Stream Gayetteer", publisher unknown.

2.  "Ohio River Navigation Charts", U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1972,

3.  "Water Quality Monitoring Data - Ohio River", WFO, Dec. 1971,

4.  "Raccoon Creek" - Work Document No. 28, 1968.

5.  "Stream Survey of District 1 (Northwest) W.Va.", WFO, WV DNRS 1964.

6.  "A Report of Water Supply and Pollution Abatement Benefits -
    Twelvepole Creek Basin, W.Va.", PHS, July 1961.

7.  "A Report on Pollution of the Ohio River and Its Tributaries In The
    Pittsburgh, Pa.  Area", WFO, 1971.

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