The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has released a work plan outlining efforts to continue studying and sampling the Susquehanna River basin throughout 2014. The plan includes analysis of water quality, water flow, sediment, pesticides, hormones, invertebrates, fish tissue and more.
“Over the last two years where we tremendously enhanced our examination efforts, DEP has learned a great deal about the health of the Susquehanna River,” DEP Secretary E. Christopher Abruzzo said. “It is important to continue these efforts so that DEP can create policy and regulation based on facts and sound science.”
In 2013, DEP staff spent 927 days collecting samples on the river. The amount of work days in 2014 is expected to be the same or increase slightly.
DEP will collect samples at sites along the Susquehanna in Marietta, City Island and Sunbury and along the Juniata River at the Lewistown Narrows and Newport. Additional sampling sites along the Delaware, Allegheny and Youghiogheny rivers will be used as control sites to establish a baseline for water quality. Portions of the study will focus on areas where smallmouth bass reproduce.
Staff will test for various water quality parameters, like dissolved oxygen, temperature and pH, at multiple sites in the Susquehanna River.
Samples of fish, mussels and macroinvertebrates, such as mayflies, will also be collected. Fish tissue from bass collected during the spawning season will be analyzed for pesticides, PCBs and metals.
Throughout 2014, DEP will continue to sample for pesticides at existing water quality network stations along the Susquehanna, Juniata and Delaware rivers. Samples will be collected during high and low flows to better document pesticides in these waters.
DEP’s biologists continue to consult with a contracted algal expert to analyze samples collected in the Susquehanna River Basin and control sites. Algal samples are analyzed for total suspended solids, ammonia, nitrogen and phosphorus to determine the relationship between nutrient run-off, or discharges, and algal growth. Excessive algae may be indicative of poor water quality.
For more information, visit www.dep.state.pa.us and click on the “Susquehanna River Study Update” button on the homepage.