State Should Declare Susquehanna River "Impaired"

SMB_119mm_Susquehanna_ShadyNook_08152012 001
A diseased smallmouth bass. Photo courtesy of the PA Fish and Boat Commission.

This letter to the editor originally appeared in    The Patriot-News earlier today. 

The Susquehanna River--one of the nation's longest and most important rivers is in trouble. Scientists and anglers have for several years been reporting unprecedented incidents of diseased and dying smallmouth bass in the Lower Susquehanna. 

This nearly 100-mile stretch of river, spanning from Sunbury to the Maryland border, has long been a destination for anglers seeking the smallmouth. Unfortunately many experts and anglers now speculate that current conditions in the Lower Susquehanna may lead to the possible collapse of this once-renowned fishery.

We believe the federal Clean Water Act is clear--when a problem of this significance is found in our waters, it warrants listing it as an impaired water body. Our organizations last fall joined the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission in petitioning the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to include the Lower Susquehanna on the state Impaired Waters List. Doing so would galvanize state, federal, academic, and nonprofit resources to not only study the problem but, importantly, to devise a detailed plan to fix it.

DEP has not supported listing the River as impaired and has not included the Lower Susquehanna in its final Impaired Waters List, which was submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in January. This issue is now in the hands of EPA.

In the meantime, DEP and other state and federal agencies have committed to continue to study the River, and we commend them for that. However, we call on DEP and the other agencies to collectively commit to a clearly defined public engagement process that provides updates on the study and the progress, and to publicly share their data and findings throughout the process.

We all benefit from a healthy river through livable communities with strong local economies, protected human health, increased property values and recreational opportunities. We all benefit from a healthy, vital Susquehanna River.

--Harry Campbell, Pennsylvania Executive Director, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and Liz G. Deardorff, Director, American Rivers' Clean Water Program - Pennsylvania

Visit our website to learn more about this critical issue and to urge EPA to declare the lower Susquehanna as impaired!

Emmy Nicklin

Issues in this Post

Fisheries   Community   Conservation   Fishing   Pennsylvania Office  



The views and opinions expressed in the media, articles or comments on this site are those of the speakers or authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by CBF and the inclusion of such information does not imply endorsement by CBF. CBF is not responsible for the contents of any linked Web, or any link contained in a linked Web site, or any changes or updates to such Web sites. The inclusion of any link or comment is provided only for information purposes. CBF reserves the right to edit or remove any comments and material posted to this website and to ban users from the site without notice. Partisan, pornographic or other inappropriate content, product or service promotion, foul language or bad behavior is expressly forbidden and will be removed.

Share Your Clean Water Story

What does the Bay, its rivers and streams mean to you? What impact have the Bay and its local waters had on your life? We'd like to know.

Share Your Story


Do you enjoy working with others to help clean the Chesapeake Bay? Do you have a few hours to spare? Whether growing oysters, planting trees, or helping in our offices, there are plenty of ways you can contribute.