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Jan 24

Riverkeeper Update: 1/24/2011

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.

I’d also like to introduce Metta Barbour, who will be helping us coordinate this year’s Codorus clean up and fundraising drive for SOLS. This is the 10th anniversary of the big 10-day cleanup we had on the Codorus in York, PA, in 2002. Over 300 volunteers pulled 1200 tires and 8 40-yard dumpsters full of debris out of the Codorus. Ten years later we have Bald Eagles and Mink in downtown York!!! This was the beginning of my work to improve and preserve our waterways, and this year I know we are going to do even more. I am now the Clean Up coordinator with the Watershed Alliance of York, so if you need some help, and a little funding for cleanups, shoot me an email (funding available for York and western Lancaster Counties).

Conowingo Dam, and the dangerous amount of sediment and pollutants trapped behind it, is still one of our top priorities. We were hoping to get the first year’s studies being done by Exelon for the FERC re-licensing last Friday, but FERC gave them a one-month extension. Studies are now expected out on February 22. Another set of studies, specific to the sediment problem, are being led by the Army Corps of Engineers, Susquehanna River Basin Commission, and Maryland Dept. of Environment. The study plans should be out soon. We’ll keep you posted. Feel free to email any ideas for beneficial reuse of the sediment. Remember it does contain pollutants like PCB’s and pesticides, so we can’t just dredge it and put it back on farms. We need reuses, preferably, which require the material to be heated to temperatures over 1000 degrees, to break down the PCB’s and pesticides.

Many of you have probably heard about the Farm Bureau suing to block the Chesapeake TMDL and WIP cleanup plan. This lobbying group has no understanding of what it means to live in community, where everyone’s actions affect everyone else. We can’t restore the Susquehanna and Chesapeake without changes in how we all live our lives. This means we, as individuals, reducing or eliminating fertilizers on our lawns, and trying to keep stormwater on our properties; wastewater plants upgrading to treat the pollution that we all make every day; industries changing their practices to reduce pollution, including nitrogen and phosphorus; and, of course, agriculture, the biggest source of pollution to the Susquehanna and the Chesapeake, using only the fertilizers they need and not using their fields for manure waste disposal, not farming to the edge of streams, leaving buffers to absorb excess fertilizer and pesticides, stopping the use of excess antibiotics that compromise human health, and not letting the Farm Bureau LIE to Congress and the public about efforts to improve our communities for EVERYONE. Please check out this video that 60 MINUTES did on the Farm Bureau. [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4iiV8e0Y6A] It’s shocking to learn what they are really about: big ag business, factory farming, using polluted sludge on farm fields, and taking from those of us that have the least. They have tried to block the existence of the EPA, the minimum wage, voting rights for minorities. While they are doing this, we continue to see the decline of the family farm! It’s time to hold them accountable! If you want to save family farms, find one, buy your food from them, and pay them more than they ask. You’ll still be getting better food for your money, and you’ll be creating community, the only thing that is going to get us beyond “personal rights” to pollute our common resources. This is going to be more and more important as our population continues to grow, in the Susquehanna Watershed, the Chesapeake Watershed, and across the global community.

OK, rant over. We’re working on a lot of other things, including a nasty landfill up above Sunbury. And yes, now that they are bringing Marcellus Shale frack water down into the lower Susquehanna to be “treated”, we’ve been dragged into that one, too. (Guy’s going to be on top of this one.)

We have a benefit concert by HEXBELT at the John Wright Restaurant in Wrightsville on Saturday, February 5th, from 10pm to 2am. It’s five bucks, and kinda late, but the venue is a beautiful glass room looking out onto the Susquehanna. It will be a great time and you can dance and meet other Stewards while knowing you are improving the Susquehanna.

We tried to get out everyone’s receipts for membership so you can deduct your contribution from your taxes. If you haven’t gotten yours, please email us.

Finally, we always need your help to keep this work going. We don’t take money from the government, as many people think. Without you, SOLS does not exist. To me, there is nothing more American than this, I don’t care what your political affiliation may be. The Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment continues to be an amazing supporter of our work! They will DOUBLE MATCH every dollar you give. A $50 family membership means $150 will be contributed to continue this important work. Your contributions, and the fact that we are in our sixth year, prove that you agree that this is some of the most important work we can be doing for our families and all future generations. You can contribute on line through Paypal, or print out a membership form at http://www.lowersusquehannariverkeeper.org/donate.html.

We look forward to partnering with you for a very productive year for SOLS, the Lower Susquehanna RIVERKEEPER®, and, most importantly, our waterways and communities.

From the Mighty Susquehanna, Michael R Helfrich
Lower Susquehanna RIVERKEEPER®