The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

September 9, 2013

We need comprehensive river study in Valley


Daily Item

---- — I'd like to address my call for a comprehensive low flow scientific study of the Susquehanna River in the Hummels Wharf area of the river.

The purpose of the study would be to establish baseline data of what contaminants presently exist in the river and their levels measured during low flow conditions. With a comprehensive baseline established we could now monitor future changes in contaminant levels to determine if the river is improving in quality or declining in quality. As the oil and gas industry expand, new pharmaceutics are developed, agriculture methods and products change and as urban development expands all of these are source points for possible present and future harmful contaminants.

The Hummels Wharf area is close enough to the confluence of the river branches that we could still study West Branch water and North Branch water as well as the center mix water. It is also located south of the Adam Bower Dam, which in low flow limits the downstream flow of water to the pre-heated 12 to 18 inches of surface water from Lake Augusta. This contributes to higher water temps during low flow periods, a fact documented from the power plant monitoring of their intake water before and after the dam was built. This site is also south of Shamokin Creek, an identified source point of mine acid runoff.

The reason for a low flow study is that any chemical substance in the water is more concentrated at that time of the year. (Like mixing Kool Aid with only half of the water). Those concentrated levels are important as July and August are when most people are in the river for recreation, as well as the agriculture industry using the river water to irrigate many food crops grown in our river valley.

This area of the river also has easy access to both the west and east sides from the Shady Nook Access Area on the west shore and from the campground off Route 147 on the east shore.

Since low flow river levels are important, any study must be scheduled based on river stage levels at the Sunbury gauge site and not calendar dates. The water level at Sunbury needs to be at 7 feet or less for low flow conditions to exist.

I call on our state officials and the coalition of local universities to work together to conduct a comprehensive river study and establish a baseline from which we have the data so future generations will be able to measure the health of the Susquehanna.

Jim Charles,

Selinsgrove