(HARRISBURG, PA)—Harry Campbell, Pennsylvania Executive Director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) issued this statement following the PA Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) release of the state's 2012 Impaired Waters List. CBF joined the PA Fish & Boat Commission, and American Rivers and PennFuture in petitioning DEP to declare a 98-mile stretch of the Lower Susquehanna as an impaired water body. DEP has denied the petition, excluding the River in its final report to the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
"While the precise sources or causes are being investigated, it's indisputable that the smallmouth bass population in the lower Susquehanna River is suffering from unprecedented disease and die-offs. The findings by state and federal fishery scientists are so significant and widespread that some experts and anglers speculate the possibility of a collapse of this once world renowned fishery. Addressing this problem is not only an environmental concern but one of considerable economic importance to the region.
"The science is clear—smallmouth bass are diseased and dying in the river—and time is of the essence if we are to turn things around. "
CBF believes 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. According to DEP's newest report on the health of our waters, Pennsylvania already has nearly 16,500 miles of waters that do not meet standards and are impaired. Listing the lower portion of the Susquehann River would have galvanized state, federal, academic, and nonprofit resources to study the problem and devise a detailed plan to fix it.