03 OCT 2011: Statement on Recent Flood & Scouring Event Effects on Chesapeake Bay
Without any official word yet on the total amount of sediment that entered the bay from erosion within the Susquehanna Watershed plus the additional scouring from the lower Susquehanna River dams, most of the scientific community appears to expect minimal effects on the Chesapeake Bay. The USGS predicted scouring curve estimates that 4 million tons of sediment was scoured. If we look at previous storms, we can estimate another 1 to 2 million tons of erosion from the watershed. That's 6 million tons or about 6 times the normal annual sediment contribution injected into the bay in less than a week. In comparison, the Susquehanna dumped over 34 million tons, or 34 times the normal annual amount into the bay during Agnes in 1972. Because this amount is less than 20% of the amount dumped into the bay during Agnes, and this event occurred after critical spawning periods of crabs, fish, and oysters, the effects of this event are likely to be minor. All that said, we'll have to watch over the next year to tell.
Regarding "additional capacity", giving us more time before Conowingo dam reaches "steady state" and we see a huge increase in annual flows of sediment and phosphorus to the Chesapeake, don't be too optimistic. While the scouring may have added 2 years worth of capacity until the Conowingo reaches steady state, we also had a lot of deposition events this year, so these may have easily offset that additional time and the 4 million tons of sediment scoured. We're still somewhere between 10 and 25 years until steady state, which is not a lot of time to deal with such a huge problem. As far as a repeat of the damage caused by Agnes, this storm should be a reminder that it could happen again at any time.
04 AUG 2011: 100+ Groups from 23 States File Petition for Drilling and Fracking Chemical Testing, Info
SOLS and the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper® joined a coalition of over 100 public health, environmental and good government groups in filing a petition demanding that full health and safety information be made available for all of the chemicals used in oil and gas development, including the controversial hydraulic fracking process. Earthjustice filed the petition on behalf of groups with members nationwide such as the Environmental Defense Fund, as well as organizations that weekly confront the environmental and economic realities of irresponsible natural gas development like the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper® program. The petition asks the EPA to draft rules that - for the first time - would require manufacturers and processors of drilling and fracking chemicals to conduct testing and produce health and safety data needed to evaluate the environmental risks of their substances and mixtures.
Little is known about many of the chemicals used in drilling and fracking. What information is available is sobering: 78% of known fracking chemicals are associated with serious short-term health effects such as burning eyes, asthma-like effects, nausea, vomitng, headaches, dizziness, tremors and convulsions. Between 22% and 27% of those chemicals are also associated with longer-term health effects, including cancer, organ damage and harm to the endocrine system. The petition also asks the EPA to require Halliburton and 8 other fracking chemical companies to provide any documentation these companies have of environmental or health problems associated with the chemicals they manufacture, process or distribute.
12 JUL 2011 : Pennsylvania Lawmakers Question Controversial Gas Pipeline
WILLIAMSPORT, PA – A bipartisan group of lawmakers representing more than 2 million voters joined environmental groups and more than 22,000 members of the public in asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to scrutinize the environmental impacts of a controversial gas pipeline before granting eminent domain powers to the company seeking to build it.
State Representative Richard Mirabito (D-Lycoming) and 34 other representatives submitted a letter yesterday to FERC asking the commission not to issue the Central New York Oil & Gas Company a certificate granting it powers of eminent domain and instead prepare a full environmental impact statement, with a thorough and comprehensive review of the MARC I hub line.
"Constituents have contacted me with serious concerns about this pipeline," said State Representative Richard Mirabito (D-Lycoming). "The power of eminent domain is not one to be taken lightly. Before the federal government gives the Central New York Oil & Gas Company (CNYOG) the power to seize private property in Lycoming, Bradford and Sullivan counties, we have a lot of questions that need to be answered."
Click here to see the technical comments of Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper® concerning the environmental impacts of gas pipelines in the Susquehanna Watershed.
21 JUN 2011 : Thanks to all those who participated in the Biathlon and Fun Paddle last Saturday! We appreciate your support, energy, and enthusiasm for not just enjoying the River in our backyard, but for recognizing the importance of our organization in improving and protecting our waterways. Thanks to the great turn-out we plan on doing this event again next year, and hope to see all of you again and many new faces! Check out the race results here or view photos here.
20 APR 2011 : Susquehanna Sediment
18 MAR 2011 : Dear Friends and Stewards - This is your new Director of Operations and Staff Attorney, Guy Alsentzer. I've spent the past 6 weeks working on ways to strengthen SOLS' organization and being brought up to speed by the Lower Susquehanna RIVERKEEPER® on the many issues besetting our region. And boy is there work to be done! Here are four examples of our RIVERKEEPER® and SOLS hard at work protecting and advocating for OUR watershed: Read the full update.
24 JAN 2011 : Howdy River Folks, and what a great New Year! First, I want to introduce SOLS' new Operations Director, Guy Alsentzer. He's going to take over some of the organizational work and some of the interaction with you, our Stewards, something that I know I don't keep up as much as I should. Guy also happens to be an environmental attorney. You'll hear from him soon. Read the full Riverkeeper® update here.
01 SEP 2010
PA needs to draft a strong Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP), not for the sake of the Chesapeake, but for the health of the Susquehanna. In January, the PA Fish and Boat Commission came out with a resolution that points out that the water quality of the Susquehanna is the cause for the demise of the Susquehanna bass fishery. Please check out the Powerpoint that I presented in front of PA DEP Secretary Hanger and PA Department of Agriculture Secretary Redding (below).
28 AUG 2010: Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper® speaks out against Inhofe-Cardin-Specter Chesapeake Bill. After the amendments to the Cardin Chesapeake Bill by Global Warming disbeliever Sen. Inhofe, and PA's own Sen. Specter, we cannot support the passage of this bill that will weaken the Clean Water Act. The new bill includes a shield that blocks the EPA from enforcing ag and stormwater runoff reductions if the states fail to do so. It allows "small" point source polluters to pollute without an individual NPDES permit. It makes the states' WIP (Watershed Implementation Plans) voluntary! And includes a mandatory pollution trading program where trades will be verified by Agribusiness! I wish I could support this because I do respect Senator Cardin, but this bill has gotten away from it's original intent. [Download Clean Water Act vs. Cardin PDF]
See our Op-Ed in the Baltimore Sun [http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-pollution-credits-20100824,0,1489072.story]
Proponents of pollution trading point to the Air Pollution trading program that has reduced acid rain. But SO2 comes from pipes with constantly measurable discharges. Trading SO2 is apples and apples. Nutrient and sediment trading go between point and non-point sources. Non-point sources and the bmp's are subject to many changes due to weather patterns (drought and storm events), vegetation growth and removal, channelization of runoff ditches. It has been suggested that the broker, in our case Red Barn Ag [http://www.redbarnag.com], would verify the credits (sound like a housing market you may have experienced?). And who will verify the bundling of ten farms throughout VA who are trading to allow a point source in PA to continue operating without making best available technology (BAT) upgrades. Finally, nutrient and sediment issues are localized into waterways, not ambient. The Chesapeake may not care if one tributary remains polluted because Waste Water Treatment Plants can buy credits, but we do. The reason for the CWA's National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permits is that every 5 years new technology (BAT) is applied to reduce the discharge. According to the CWA, this should eliminate discharges. If we codify trading we are giving up on elimination, and we are giving up on the goal of the CWA, to have EVERY waterway fishable, swimmable, and drinkable.
27 JUL 2010: Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper® and Assateague Coastkeeper featured in MD Public TV's "Runoff Dilemma", playing on WMPT now. Look for me around minute 23. Look for Kathy Phillips, Assateague Coastkeeper, around minute 48.
29 JUN 2010: In this video, York High students work with Stewards of the Lower Susquehanna and York Audubon volunteers to improve the Willis Run Living Classroom in downtown York, PA. This stretch of stream just above the Kiwanis Lake Important Bird Area provides additional habitat and feeding opportunities for the Night Herons and Great Egrets, while creating an educational area for students and the citizens of York. Check out the video produced by SOLS and posted by the EPA's Chesapeake Bay Program.
12 JUN 2010: Waterkeeper Conference 2010
03 JUN 2010: The Harless' beautiful back yard habitat and stream buffer were featured by the EPA's Chesapeake Bay Program in a video. Now only 9 months later, the Harless family's treasured backyard habitat is suffering due to a neighbor that insists on dumping nearly an acre's worth of grass clippings into the stream "so they can decay". The Harless' have explained and pleaded for the neighbor to just dump it in their yard, but he remains insistent. Read the full story & watch the video here.
09 MAR 2010: Protesters Rally Against Sewage Sludge
02 JAN 2010: Lancaster Dairy Present to the Chesapeake. Got Manure? Read the full story & watch the video here.
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