The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

May 5, 2012

Don Steese's Outdoors column: You can help the river

SUNBURY — John Arway, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, needs your help. Actually, you could say that the Susquehanna needs your help. I received this communication from the PFBC just this week:

Sick fish, sick river. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission needs your help to save the Susquehanna River and the smallmouth bass fishery that has been plagued by disease. You may have seen the recent news stories and letters to the editor in the Harrisburg Patriot News describing how the PFBC has asked the DEP to place the Susquehanna River on the federal list of impaired and threatened waters, commonly known as the 303(d) list.

Adding the Susquehanna to the list as a “high priority” impaired water would trigger a two year timeline under federal Environmental Protection Agency regulations for state regulators to develop a comprehensive plan to clean up the river by reducing the amount of pollutants from contributing sources. This pollution diet is called a total maximum daily load and is already in place on 6,490 miles of impaired streams and rivers in the state and will be developed on another 9,801 miles according to a DEP report.

Unfortunately, DEP did not list the river in it’s draft 2012 Integrated Water Monitoring and Assessment report. The full report is available by searching for 303 (d) on the DEP website.

You can help by submitting comments to DEP supporting the Fish and Boat Commission’s request. Comments must be received by May 22 and should be sent to: Molly Pulket, Division of Water Quality Standards, Bureau of Point and Non Point Source Management, PO Box 8774, Harrisburg, PA. 17105-8467 or send an email to mpulket@pa.gov.

We need you to help convince DEP to act now before the fishery collapses and the time for action is too late.

This, to many of us, may seem like a no-brainer. Get the river cleaned up, no matter what the cost! It would seem that everyone would agree with that. Unfortunately, things aren’t that simple.

Granting the river impaired status will result in taxpayer money being spent. There is certain to be a hue and cry from that segment of the population who would consider this a waste of their hard-earned tax dollars. The other factor is that a concerted effort to determine the causes of pollution in the river and to clean up that pollution will be very costly to some very big and important industries.

Industries that employ huge lobbying firms and donate huge sums of money to politicians of every stripe. People who work for these industries would see these efforts as a threat to their employer and therefore their livelihoods. Some will argue that businesses and industries, the people who create jobs, endure too much government regulation already and shouldn’t be saddled with more.

If you take the time to do a little study on the situation regarding the Susquehanna River you’ll hear all these arguments. Which side you come down on is ultimately up to you.

n Email comments to jdsteese@yahoo.com

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