Hope on the Susquehanna

This spring people came to our office on the River angry and disturbed about what they thought was another calamity on the Susquehanna. Millions of large black mayflies had hatched over a 4 week period making life miserable and messy for property owners. The hatch was so dense that it caused vehicles to slide out on the historic bridge across the Susquehanna at Wrightsville prompting it to be closed until the mayflies were plowed away!

These people were mad!

We contacted the PA Department of Environmental Protection and Penn State Extension Service and biologists came to investigate. What they found was something that that was not the beginning of the “End of Days”, but another hopeful sign that our good work on the Susquehanna is paying off. You see large Mayflies hatches are indicative of a healthy watershed. Three years ago there was a very small Mayfly hatch and last year a larger 3 day hatch occurred. This spring the sky was darkened with unbelievable number of Mayflies that no one alive has seen on our river. Around the country Cleaner Watersheds celebrate these hatches with festivals knowing that they represent a healthy environment. Our RIVERKEEPER® has been working hard for 10 years, as you can see below, advocating and fighting for clean water. Our Susquehanna has been used and abused in the past, but with your help, are turning turn things around. There is much more to do and we invite you to join us in this fight as we make progress for a clean Susquehanna.

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Mayflies on Susquehanna

Dec 02


  Why do we all love the Susquehanna River?  Because it is…

 Our River!  Most of us love the river because we have vivid memories of spending summers, holidays and weekends fishing, swimming, boating, hiking, and sharing time with…

Our Families.  No one can take those memories away.  Now we have plans of making new memories on our river with our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  But those plans, those future memories, are not guaranteed.  That’s why the Lower Susquehanna RIVERKEEPER® and Stewards of the Lower Susquehanna have given you…

Our Commitment.  We dedicate every day to protecting and improving the health and beauty of Our River, and the health and lives of Our Families who call the Susquehanna Valley home.  We need Your Commitment to continue our work.  Please show your dedication to Our River and Our Families by making a generous contribution today.

 This has been a historic year, our 10th year working for you and the Lower Susquehanna Watershed.  Whether we are meeting with kids, fishermen, businessmen, or Governors Wolf and Hogan, we are always teaching, and learning about, ways we can protect Our River. Sometimes we have to fight for Our River.  That’s when most people notice that we are here.  

In our 10 years we have stopped 2.4 million tons of incinerator ash from being dumped in unmarked holes around PA. That’s about 240,000 dump truck loads! We got PP&L to invest $125 million in reducing pollution in the Susquehanna.  We stopped the Cuff’s Run hydro project that would have destroyed prime farmland and 26 farms and homesteads. We’ve reduced pollution from hundreds of construction sites and farms.  We’ve kept the pressure on from year 1 to find solutions to the diseases and sexual mutations in our smallmouth bass, the problems caused by the dams on the river, and the pollution from fertilizers that cause thick algae in the Susquehanna and giant dead zones in the Chesapeake Bay.  And that’s not all!

Today, we are working with homeowners and farmers to stop the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline and the Cove Point Liquefied Natural Gas Export Facility, both of which are designed to send America’s natural gas to foreign countries.  We are fighting to stop the pollution from the natural gas drilling, along with the thousands of miles of new pipelines and dirt roads.  We are protecting the Susquehanna by petitioning against the Lancaster landfill’s plan of at least 30 more years of dumping refuse along the river, piling it up another 50 feet.  In addition to directly reducing pollution, we are developing a Green Jobs and Water Conservation program for teenagers in underserved neighborhoods in York, Lancaster and Harrisburg. We aim to create a new generation of clean water advocates in areas that deeply need the help.

Much of our daily work isn’t visible, or exciting.  We read 1,000-page scientific reports, and 100-page regulations.  We write the documents to challenge bad science and bad laws. We meet with families and small groups of neighbors to help when they feel they have no power to fight polluters or protect their families and land.  We’re here because we believe in protecting Our River and Our Families.

 Please match Our Commitment with Your Commitment of a generous contribution today.

Thank you.

Bill Minarik                                      Michael Helfrich

Executive Director                         Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper

Stewards of the Lower Susquehanna

2098 Long Level Rd.

Wrightsville, PA 17368



Jun 22

The passing of SOLS Board Member Tom Pelikan

It is with great sorrow that I inform you of the passing of our SOLS Board Member Tom Pelikan.

Tom came on our board in 2014 and immediately became active.

Tom was on the committee who selected me as the new Executive Director and followed up making me feel welcomed to SOLS as he immediately invited me to dinner. As a past watershed Executive Director himself, he kept an eye out for things that I should know about and was generous with his time. He brought me along to the Rivertownes Board meeting, and hooked me up with important groups interested in watershed health. His last act was to invite me to speak at his York Kiwanis Club meeting.

Tom was a generous donator to SOLS with his membership gift, but also with his time. Tom volunteered to represent us at the Shank’s Mare Art and Outdoor Fest and also volunteered as Chairman of our up-coming 10th year anniversary.

Tom Pelikan is greatly missed.

Bill Minarik

Executive Director

Stewards of the Lower Susquehanna





Tom Pelikan Picture SOLS Board Member

Jun 12

Sadness on the Conewago

There is no doubt that the folks along our Central Pennsylvania waterways love their creeks much like they love their kids.

In affectionate terms the Conewago Creek residents are sadly expressing their dismay at the thousands of dead fish. As Executive Director of Stewards of the Lower Susquehanna and along with our Riverkeeper, Michael Helfrich, we somehow wish that we could reverse the events of the fire and resulting chemical spill this week from the Hanover, PA Fertilizer plant.

We cannot.


What our Riverkeeper organization can do is to advocate for better regulations of stored chemicals and to hold those who violate the law accountable. This is what we do.

This week I will be in my kayak paddling the Conewago as well as bicycling along the creek roads collecting information and talking to people. We are in contact with the DEP staying abreast of the cleanup and prevention of additional rain runoff pollution from the fire site.

I would love to hear your story about this beautiful creek.

Bill Minarik
SOLS Executive Director

Jun 08

“LOWER SUSQUEHANNA RIVERKEEPER Update: Saving Smallmouth, Stopping Landfills, and Having Fun at the Susquehanna Biathlon!

Smallmouth are dying again this year- Rare cancer found.

Help us pressure the politicians to focus on the Susquehanna by buying this awesome SOS- Save Our Smallmouth T-Shirt.  Some of the fishermen set up this great fundraiser for us. Buy a SAVE OUR SMALLMOUTH shirt, and 20% of the cost comes to us to pressure the politicians into taking action, and working with the scientists to find the right solutions. Please buy a shirt today. They’ve already raised over $200 for us! Thanks, Chris Gorsuch, Jeff Little, John Stygler and friends!

Frey Farm Landfill Expansion Meeting in Lancaster County.  Stop Turkey Hill from becoming Mount Trashmore!

The landfill is big enough already, and now they want to pile up other people’s trash and ruin our nearly $100 million investment to make the lower Susquehanna a world-class attraction.  Act now!

If you don’t want our legacy to our children to be a landfill as the biggest hill in the lower Susquehanna Hills, and you don’t want Lancaster and the Susquehanna to be the dumping ground for other people’s trash, then you want to be at these upcoming meetings on June 18th and July 28th at the Manor Township Municipal Building, 950 West Fairway Drive, Lancaster, PA 17603.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has scheduled a public meeting and public hearing to discuss and receive testimony on an application for a vertical expansion and increase in average and maximum daily volumes of waste accepted for disposal at Lancaster County Solid Waste Management’s Frey Farm Landfill located in Manor Township, Lancaster County.

The informational public meeting will be held on Thursday, June 18, 2015, and the public hearing where you can comment will be held on Tuesday, July 28, 2015. Both events will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. and will be held at the Manor Township Municipal Building, 950 West Fairway Drive, Lancaster, PA 17603. At the public meeting, the applicant will present their application, and DEP will explain the application review process. The public meeting will then be an open forum to discuss the application and for the public to comment or ask questions. DEP will receive formal public testimony at the public hearing but will not answer any questions at that time.

Each person providing testimony will have up to 10 minutes for his or her testimony. DEP will then prepare a written public comment/response document within 45 days of the hearing and distribute the document to all who provided testimony. Any person intending to testify at the public hearing should register by Friday, July 24, 2015, by calling Tim Fuller at 717.705.4706.

An appointment may be scheduled to review the permit application at DEP’s South-central Regional Office in Harrisburg by contacting the File Room at 717,705.4732-between lite hours Of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. A copy of the application has also been provided to Manor Township. If you are a person with a disability, and you wish to attend the public meeting or hearing, but you require an auxiliary aid, service, or other accommodations to participate in these proceedings, please contact DEP for assistance at 717.705.4703. TDD users may use AT&T Relay Services at 1.800.654.5984.”

Susquehanna Biathlon, June 27th.  REGISTER NOW!

Less than 3 weeks until the 5th Annual Susquehanna Biathlon!  The Susquehanna Biathlon is back for 2015 with the same unique run-paddle combination and beautiful course! No other event in Central PA combines two of our favorite hobbies – trail running and river paddling – for the best cause of all: supporting clean water. We hope you will run and paddle with us on June 27th and support Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper’s work keeping our water fishable, swimable, and drinkable!



Like previous years, the Biathlon is roughly a 5.5 km run from the lot adjacent the John Wright Restaurant in Wrightsville, to a paddling launch site just upriver from the Accomac Inn. The second leg is a paddle downriver with an exciting finish back at the start by the John Wright’s public boat launch.

The running course starts with a brief road section, followed by gravel and private road with a short rocky trail section. There are slight uphills and downhills, and of course the paddle always refreshes and stimulates starting with an easy flatwater paddle followed by an exciting class I whitewater finish!

We know some folks just want to support Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper, so we’ve kept the race open for two hours to accommodate both those speedy racers and those who want to enjoy the race in a more leisurely fashion.


Feb 13

2015 Susquehanna Biathlon -Tickets now available online!


The 5th Annual Susquehanna Biathlon will be held on June 27, 2015 with the same unique run-paddle combination and beautiful course! No other event in Central PA combines two of our favorite hobbies — trail running and river paddling — for the best cause of all: supporting clean water.

  • The race starts at John Wright Restaurant located at 234 North Front Street in Wrightsville, PA.
  • Registration & boat transport is at 8:30 am.
  • Pre-race meeting at 9:45 am
  • Race starts at 10:00 am.

Run and paddle with us on Saturday, June 27th and support the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper’s work of keeping our water fishable, swimable, and drinkable!

For More Information: Please email: Bill Minarik, SOLS Executive Director: or call: 443.604.5894

Nov 14

Public Information & the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline

One of the ugliest realities of new proposed pipelines for the Susquehanna Watershed is the threat of eminent domain.

When interstate pipelines receive certain permits from the Federal energy Regulatory Commission, they often have the power to – and history proves have in fact – taken private land for industrial use. The proposed Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline Project promises to be no exception.

The Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, or the Central Penn Lines North and South, would create a shortcut between the existing Transco Leidy Line in Columbia County with the Transcontinental Gas Pipeline in Lancaster County.  It is a greenfield pipeline, meaning it would create a new Right-Of-Way (ROW).  If constructed, Atlantic Sunrise will be 178 miles long, with at least 2 new compressor stations in Susquehanna and Columbia Counties, Pennsylvania.

Unfortunately, federal agencies often won’t disclose lists of private citizens potentially affected by proposed pipeline projects. Disclosing impacted landowner lists is not only vital to informing local citizens about potential eminent domain threats, but to informing the general public about potential federal agency actions that affect community and environmental health, well-being, and safety.

Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper is working to ensure full transparency from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Transco as the application process moves forward. In particular, we use tools like the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).Stay tuned for more updates as we continue to advocate for transparent, scientifically-vetted, and accountable decisionmaking from federal agencies, all towards the goal of protecting community health and water quality in the Susquehanna.

More About FOIA

The Freedom of Information Act establishes a general philosophy of full agency disclosure. Congress enacted FOIA in 1966 to ensure the public’s right of access to information regarding the conduct of government affairs. The basic purpose of FOIA is to ensure an informed citizenry, vital to the functioning of a democratic society, needed to check against corruption and to hold the governors accountable to the governed.As the Supreme Court has declared: “FOIA is often explained as a means for citizens to know what ‘their Government is up to.’” NARA v. Favish, 541 U.S. 157, 171 (2004) (quoting U.S. Dep’t of Justice v. Reporters Comm. for Freedom of the Press, 489 U.S. 749, 773 (1989). The Court elaborated that “[t]his phrase should not be dismissed as a convenient formalism.” Id. at 171-72. Rather, “[i]t defines a structural necessity in a real democracy.” Id. at 172. In enacting FOIA, Congress was “principally interested in opening administrative processes to the scrutiny of the press and public.” Renegotiation Bd. v. Bannercraft Clothing Co., 415 U.S. 1, 17 (1974).



Sep 16

Appeal of PADEP General Permit Supporting Use of Drill Cuttings in Pavement

Organizations object to research and development by driller Range Resources that would lead to use of gas well drill cuttings in roads and well pads on gas sites

Harrisburg, PA – Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper, and Earthworks filed an appeal on September 15 with the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board (EHB) of a Residual Waste General Permit issued to Range Resources Appalachia and LAFARGE North America authorizing research and development activities to support the beneficial use of drill cuttings for pavement at gas well sites.

The General Permit allows the construction of a test well pad using drill cuttings in place of cement and could result in a beneficial use determination by PA Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) that will allow its use in well pads and access roads at gas well sites in the state. The test pad is located uphill from two exceptional value streams, Larry’s Creek and Dog Run Creek.

We petitioned the EHB based on the PADEP’s failure, among other things, to analyze and address the long-term impacts of the project on the community and the natural resources it depends upon and to review and address the long-term and cumulative risks to groundwater and surface water contamination.  The petitioners asked the EHB to reverse PADEP’s approval.

A copy of the filing is available at:

Aug 19

Technical Comments on the Proposed Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline

Yesterday we submitted these technical comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission concerning a proposal to build a new series of gathering pipelines and infrastructure through Central Pennsylvania.

Besides the fact that decisionmakers haven’t cumulatively considered this project in relation to other, connected natural gas projects, our concerns are twofold:

First, that communities and watersheds of the Lower Susquehanna will be further threatened and degraded, respectively, for the convenience of corporate shareholders. We have some of the best farmland, unique rural communities, ecologically important creeks and wetlands – not to mention thousands of families – who each will be negatively affected by the construction and use of more pipelines and infrastructure.

Second, Transco’s own application touts the construction of the Atlantic Sunrise Project as benefiting, in part, the export of liquefied natural gas from a proposed LNG export terminal in the Chesapeake Bay. And where does that gas come from? Upstream, from fracking in Pennsylvania’s forests and small northern communities. First of all, we still haven’t seen any science showing that fracking can be done safely, and without environmental consequences and therefore don’t support fracking. Second, if companies are going to frack natural gas, why is it being shipped overseas? Apparently the talking point of “American Energy Independence” from fracking is just that: a talking point.

We will continue our strong advocacy on the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline to ensure that science, common sense and the rule of law is followed to best protect families, communities and watersheds of the Lower Susquehanna.


Jul 31

The Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline & the Susquehanna

Hey River Folk!

We thought it was about time you all had some solid facts on the new, big pipeline proposed to run through Southcentral Pennsylvania and the Susquehanna Watershed. Here’s what we’re all facing:

The Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline is really the connection of the Central Penn Lines North and South. It would create a shortcut between the existing Transco Leidy Line in Columbia County to our north with the Transcontinental Gas Pipeline in Lancaster County.

More importantly, it is being proposed as a greenfield pipeline, meaning it would create a new Right-Of-Way (ROW), which really means they aren’t planning to use existing pipeline paths and easements, but instead to cut up farmland, properties, and forests for a new route.

What we’ve read in the Notice of Intent to file with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is the following:

  • 178 miles long, with at least 2 new compressor stations in Susquehanna and Columbia Counties, Pennsylvania.
  • It’ll be an interstate line, meaning it requires a federal certificate of public convenience and necessity from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), as well as state permits from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for stream crossings, and air permits for compressor stations.

What Can You Do? Make Your Voice Heard at Public Scoping Meetings and by Commenting!

The project is currently in the scoping period where regulators seek your two cents before they perform an environmental review document known as an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Williams Representatives have stated that they anticipate filing a formal application within the next 6-9 months. When the official application is filed with FERC, as opposed to the pre-filing currently happening, anyone who is interested can file a motion to intervene in the application.

Below is a spreadsheet with dates & times for public scoping meetings.

These are opportunities to tell FERC what to review during its environmental review process! You have the right under law to tell FERC it should review any issue that is ecological, aesthetic, historic, cultural, economic, social or health related, whether such an issue is directly, indirectly, or cumulatively related to the proposed pipeline!

For example, the following are all legal considerations that you can demand FERC take into account:

Loss of interior forests • Increase of fracking along Atlantic Sunrise route • Increase in gas infrastructure • Future construction of pipelines through this right-of-way (ROW) • Greenhouse gas emissions from Cove Point Export Facility • Health impacts from fracking • Historic sites along the route • Native American sites along the route • Full restoration of ROW including replanting trees • Health impacts from compressor stations • Potential emergency scenarios • Domestic gas prices due to exports overseas • Impacts to Amish community and other constituencies along route • Methane releases due to fugitive emissions along entire route and contribution to climate change • Directional drilling below streams to reduce impacts • Reduction of ROW size • Emotional strain of having a highly pressurized gasline nearby.

You can come to one of the public meetings noted above, or submit any comments online before August 18th by clicking this link and entering in the project name and docket number:

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