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Thursday, May 6, 2010

DEP, Partner Groups Celebrate Improvements to West Branch Susquehanna River

Benchmark Report Details Restoration of Water Quality, Fish Population

HARRISBURG -- Twenty years of coordinated efforts to restore life to the West Branch Susquehanna River in north-central Pennsylvania have led to marked improvements in water quality, as well increases in fish populations and diversity that are detailed in a benchmark study announced today by Trout Unlimited.

The study was coordinated by Trout Unlimited in cooperation with the Department of Environmental Protection, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, and an alliance of approximately 30 watershed associations, conservation districts, and local businesses comprising the West Branch Susquehanna Restoration Coalition.

“The West Branch Susquehanna River is the centerpiece of the Pennsylvania Wilds, yet more than 1,000 miles of this majestic river and its tributaries are sterile or badly degraded from mine drainage and pollution from thousands of acres of abandoned mine sites,” said J. Scott Roberts, DEP’s deputy secretary for Mineral Resources Management during the fifth annual West Branch Susquehanna Restoration Symposium sponsored by Trout Unlimited. “However, a renaissance has begun, and we are seeing measurable results that are leading to recreational and economic opportunities that will benefit the entire state.”

The benchmark study compared chemical and biological conditions of the river from the mid-1980s to 2009, and found dramatic improvements in water quality with a 72 percent reduction in iron and an 87 percent reduction in aluminum in Karthaus, Clearfield County. Alkaline treatment of mine discharges has significantly reduced acidity levels in the river, while pH has steadily increased from 3.9 in 1984 -- a toxic level for most aquatic life -- to 6.4 last year.

A 1998 fishery survey near Hyner, Clinton County, found only three species in the West Branch, contrasted with surveys from 2009 that found 16 species at this location and a 3,000 percent increase in catch rates.

Overall, researchers assessed water quality and habitat data at 11 sites on the river and at the mouth of 69 mine-drainage-impaired tributaries. Fish populations were assessed at nine sites.

“This remarkable progress is the direct result of cooperation among government, the mining industry and the environmental community to seek out innovative and cost-effective ways to reclaim old mine sites and treat historic mine discharges,” Roberts said. “Under Governor Rendell’s leadership, we have created the Mine Drainage Trust Fund to finance systems that will treat some of the most significant mine discharges in the watershed and restore water quality in the headwater of the West Branch, as well as Clearfield Creek and the Bennett Branch of Sinnemahoning Creek.”

DEP has committed significant resources to restoring the West Branch Susquehanna River, including:

• $73 million in Growing Greener grants to watershed groups and local governments for 620 projects;
• $14 million through 63 bond-forfeiture projects that have reclaimed 1,131 acres of abandoned mines;
• More than $50 million in Abandoned Mine Reclamation contracts to reclaim 2,357 acres; and
• $2.1 million to plug 115 abandoned natural gas wells in four counties in the watershed.

The department also issued 210 re-mining permits to active coal companies that have reclaimed 5,100 acres of abandoned mine lands at no cost to the commonwealth since 2000.

DEP, local groups and the active coal industry operate 123 mine drainage treatment systems that handle nearly 9 billion gallons of mine drainage each year in the West Branch Susquehanna watershed.

Final results of the benchmark study will be released in the fall. For more information, visit www.wbsrc.org or www.depweb.state.pa.us.

7 comments :

Anonymous said...

Twenty years and how many millions of dollars? and we're gonna just trash it again as well as everything else as long as the drillers get their way.

Anonymous said...

You sure your not the one that is trashed? Get educated before you make a statemente like that.And don't do it by reading all the Tree Hugger internet sites.Base your knowlege on FACTS!

Anonymous said...

No, I am of perfectly sound mind and body.

The statement I made WAS based on FACTS.

Talk about educated, did you even read the article? You do know that sentences do not begin with the word "And" don't you?

I love how people toss around terms like "tree hugger" and "psychotic pothead" in an effort to discredit a legitimate statement.

Which gas company did you say you work for?

baaaaa-aaa

Anonymous said...

Lets see if I have this right.
You claim that the Susquehanna River and "everything else" will be trashed if drilling is allowed to continue.And this is based on fact.
You must be a sooth-sayer with the ability to see into the future,as a statement like that has no basis in fact.Fact is not based on personel perceptions. It is based on scientific evidence.
Hype is not FACT!! And that is a FACT.

Anonymous said...

HEY 6:48. READ THE PAPERS.watch the news. three class a wild trout streams in this state have allready been polluted.get the facts!

Anonymous said...

Three class A trout streams.(Where, and by whom?)
That would not be the Susquehanna River and or "everything else" as you stated.
The way the wild trout streams are designated that could be the ditch behind my house.
Mole hills into mountains.Hype instead of FACT.That is the way of the Tree Hugger!
Bet you heat your house with gas,drive your car everyday, and use all the same products made from a combination of gas and oil that the rest of us do!
But....Not in my backyard!!!

Anonymous said...

"Bet you heat your house with gas,drive your car everyday, and use all the same products made from a combination of gas and oil that the rest of us do!"

Now that is truly a "sheeple statement". Baaaa-aaaa

When people are forced to heat with gas, and forced to buy vehicles that burn petroleum and are told by corporate america, the government, and crooks such as yourself that it's all good, of course they're going to, what freaking choice do they have?

That is why we must speak out against your rhetoric, and SHOUT THE TRUTH!

I WILL NOT SUCCUMB TO YOUR PROPAGANDA AND LIES ANY LONGER! I AM A FREE AMERICAN AND I WILL THINK FOR MYSELF, MY COUNTRY, AND MY COUNTRYMEN!

You can spew your BS all you want gas man, the wool has been pulled over our eyes for too long, NO MORE!

WE WILL STAND UP FOR OUR HEALTH, OUR COUNTRY, OUR ENVIRONMENT, AND OUR FUTURE GENERATIONS IN THE FACE OF YOUR LIES.

Say what you will, you will NOT suppress the truth anymore!