Wednesday, August 16, 2017

DEP Chronicles Story of Susquehanna River Stresses and Cites Successes on New Interactive Multimedia Website

Dept. of Environmental Protection

Commonwealth News Bureau 
Room 308, Main Capitol Building 
Harrisburg PA., 17120 
Deborah Klenotic, DEP

DEP Chronicles Story of Susquehanna River Stresses and Cites Successes on New Interactive Multimedia Website 

Harrisburg, PA – Fans of the Susquehanna River can learn about adverse human impacts on the East Coast’s longest river and its tributaries and follow the progress of the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP’s) efforts to tackle them on a new interactive, multimedia website called the Susquehanna River Story.

“Working with many partners, we’re developing and implementing programs that are paying off in addressing the wide range of challenges the Susquehanna faces,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “These are informed by innovative pollution assessment methods and stores of data we’ve developed that have made us a national leader in large-river monitoring.”

DEP has played an instrumental role in improving the health of the Susquehanna River Basin. For example, as a direct result of DEP acid mine drainage cleanup projects, the West Branch Susquehanna River—which was biologically dead about 15 years ago—now has aquatic life from near Clearfield to Lock Haven, including the return of healthy populations of native mussels from Sunbury to Williamsport.

The Susquehanna River Story website uses GIS maps, videos, charts, and photos to show where mining, agriculture, stormwater, and dams have impaired macroinvertebrate, fish, and plant life, as well as DEP’s progress in addressing these impairments. DEP research on smallmouth bass is also shared.

Site visitors can see which streams have been impaired by farming activities as well as samples of agricultural best management practices that have been implemented to repair impacts and which streams have been impaired by acid mine drainage and locations of successful treatment projects. 

DEP has developed innovative continuous in-stream monitoring protocols to analyze water quality. Water samplers and computerized monitoring devices are left in the river for months to enable DEP to continually detect chemicals and other pollutants that would be difficult to discover with conventional testing methods. 

These devices have enabled DEP to collect a great volume of data, including probably more data than any other state environmental agency on contaminants of emerging concern, such as certain hormones, pharmaceuticals, and pesticides. 

Although initiatives to restore water quality and aquatic life in the Susquehanna have had positive results, the river continues to face many challenges from human activity. DEP will chronicle new developments as it works toward a fully healthy Susquehanna River.

Interactive river story websites are also planned for the Delaware, Ohio, Great Lakes, and Potomac River Basins in Pennsylvania.

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