Breaking: Federal Action Needed to Declare Susquehanna River Impaired
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has done a wonderful, courageous, and honest thing. They’ve confronted PA DEP head on, saying that because Pennsylvania DEP will not declare the Susquehanna River impaired, even while smallmouth bass are diseased and dying — and PA DEP will not reveal the science behind their refusal to declare the Susquehanna River impaired — the general public should go to the feds. Protecting Our Waters agrees and applauds.
The Sierra Club has done just that, and so should all of us who care about water, life, and the fish who depend on the Susquehanna River’s health — as well as the endangered Chesapeake Bay. Their Action Alert is right here.
If you have just a second, go straight to that link, above the healthy fish. If you have another minute, read the Sierra Club’s appeal, below.
Fish health can tell us a lot about water quality.
The Susquehanna River, once home to prize winning and thriving smallmouth bass, is now filled with more and more sickly bass.
We’ve learned of studies of declining smallmouth population, diseased juvenile smallmouths, adults bearing nasty-looking lesions and unexplained spots, and problems with high pH, low dissolved oxygen and excessive nutrients.
With symptoms like this, we all should be worried!Tell the Environmental Protection Agency that this is NOT natural or acceptable!
Even Department of Environmental Protection’s Secretary Krancer admits: “we recognize that there are issues facing smallmouth bass, such as what is called young-of-year die-offs; lesions on adult bass; and inter-sexing of the species.” Yet DEP is unwilling to take the next step, that is, declaring the Susquehanna River as “impaired” water under the Clean Water Act. Fortunately, EPA has the authority to make this declaration on its own.
The PA Fish and Boat Commission has been pressing the state Department of Environmental Protection to designate the Susquehanna as impaired water under the Clean Water Act so that more work can be done to research and remedy the problems. Last May, 22 retired DEP water quality managers wrote to DEP Secretary, stating there was ample justification to make that determination. Local newspapers and organizations have joined in.
Yet the DEP has refused to declare the Susquehanna waters impaired. Help us convince the EPA that the Susquehanna is in danger!
The time is ripe for EPA action because of other Chesapeake Bay issues. The river ultimately flows into the Chesapeake Bay, which is experiencing its own problems that some are blaming on upriver actions. The more Pennsylvania can examine the health of the river now, the better position the state will be in to address these other concerns.
Sierra Club PA Chapter
“Starting in 2004, I’ve seen young of the year smallmouth die in scary numbers. The tributaries seem to be better for them. I see apparently uninjured adult smallmouth laying dead on the bottom of the clear river each month, especially in the spring. I do see some with lesions, tattered and fungus infected tails, or the black spots that I’ve heard are harmless. The open red pus filled spots aren’t harmless though.” Jeffrey Little of New Windsor, Maryland, who fishes the Susquehanna and its tributaries, submitted his report, which accompanies the photo above, on December 31, 2012.
You can read his, and others’ full report here.
Thank you for taking action. We urge everyone, as a second action, to call their Congressperson. This is SOS Susquehanna.