A Needed Reboot
About 19,000 miles of Pennsylvania’s rivers
and streams are fouled by pollution.
Since 1983, Pennsylvania and the other Bay
states have agreed five times to reduce pollution. In 2010 as part of a federal/state partnership, the Commonwealth and the other
Bay signatories committed to specific actions,
two-year incremental milestones, and a 2017
mid-term goal that make up Pennsylvania’s
Clean Water Blueprint.
But as 2015 winds down, Pennsylvania’s
efforts to reduce nitrogen and sediment pollution from agriculture and urban polluted
runoff remain far off-track, putting human
health at risk, damaging habitat, and weakening local economies. Department of
Environmental Protection Secretary John
Quigley has acknowledged that the
Commonwealth will not meet its 2017 goals
and has committed to a “reboot.”
CBF believes that leadership, commitment,
and financial investment are vital elements
that should be at the core of the “reboot.”
The Commonwealth’s own Department of
Environmental Protection estimates that only
30 percent of farms in the state are currently
in compliance with existing regulations.
Leadership must cultivate and enforce a culture of compliance.
Meeting Pennsylvania’s obligations requires
commitment from every level of government to solve the problem of pollution
from all sectors.
Pennsylvania knows what needs to be
done—decades of science and experience
have led to the road map that is the
Commonwealth’s Clean Water Blueprint.
Investing existing resources where it makes
the most sense and committing new
resources will reap the greatest returns.
A 2014 economic analysis found that fully
implementing Pennsylvania’s Clean Water
Blueprint will result in an increase
in the value of natural services by $6.2
Status of the Susquehanna
By the end of this year, the Department of
Environmental Protection will release draft
recommendations for the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency’s 2016 Impaired Waters
List. The list identifies waterways that are polluted, and starts the process to develop plans
to make them healthy again.
Diseased and dying smallmouth bass were
first reported in the Susquehanna River in
2005. Smallmouth bass continue to bear
sores and lesions, and the population continues to plummet. Since the early 2000s,
researchers have found intersex fish—adult
male bass with female eggs in their testes.
The Department of Environmental Protec-
tion and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat
Commission completed an extensive study
on the health of the Susquehanna River. This
study describes a “perfect storm” of high lev-
els of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution,
pesticides, parasites, and hormones in animal
and human waste in the water. The presence
of endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in
certain herbicides, cosmetics, detergents, and
medicines has also been suspected.
CBF is urging the Commonwealth to include
98 miles of the lower Susquehanna River on
the Impaired Waters List. The river provides
half of the fresh water that flows into the
Chesapeake Bay. Once on the list, the river
can benefit from a new level of restoration,
resource investment, and pollution study.
The “reboot” and river impairment are two
separate, yet intertwined, actions that
are essential to Pennsylvania meeting its
clean-water promise to its citizens and to
u To learn more about Pennsylvania’s clean-water progress, visit cbf.org/Pennsylvania.
Investments in clean
water will benefit the
Winter 2015 l cbf.org
n One of the longest rivers
n Provides over half of the
freshwater to the Chesapeake
Bay, drinking water to
millions of people, countless
and scenic value.
n Smallmouth bass, the river’s keystone fishery, has seen declines in
health and population.
n Data indicate the river fails to meet some of the basic requirements
of the Clean Water Act.
n 98 miles are at risk, from Sunbury to the Maryland state line.
n Inclusion on the federal Impaired Waters List would ensure that a
recovery plan will be developed and followed.
n For more information, visit cbf.org/Pennsylvania.
JOHN PAVONCELLO/YORK DISPATCH
of river at risk
The Mighty Susquehanna