Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Civil War over the Susquehanna

John Arway, director of the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, said in a statement Tuesday that the Department of Environmental Protection isn't sharing scientific information about the decline in fish populations in the river and isn't putting the Susquehanna on a path for cleanup.

The commission said smallmouth bass populations have drastically fallen off; young fish are dying and older fish are developing lesions. The agency said the state should ask the federal Environmental Protection Agency to designate part of the river as "impaired," which would make it eligible for more funding and studies to determine the source of the problem.

Arway suggested the DEP was basing its decision affecting the Susquehanna on politics, and he urged others concerned about the river to take their concerns to Congress "since DEP has decided not to list the river as an impaired water and will not place it on a path for cleanup as was done for the Chesapeake Bay."
Susquehanna SM Bass showing "Black Spot" lesions
But much of the goals of the Bay cleanup, aka 'Bay Diet' are aimed at the Susquehanna.  However, those goal are largely aimed at reducing nutrients.  But changes in agricultural and municipal septic in concert with the 'Bay Diet' are also likely to help clean up the toxics, or whatever is affecting the fish.

Department Secretary Michael Krancer said Monday that the Fish & Boat Commission request that the river be listed as impaired "is based on very limited, piecemeal data and is not supported by the existing data or the law."

Krancer said DEP recognizes problems among smallmouth bass, including die-offs of young fish, lesions on adult bass, and fish with mixed sex organs.

"The actual cause of these issues has not yet been determined or linked to any particular water quality issue, but DEP is dedicated to finding the answer through a disciplined scientific approach," Krancer said.
As opposed as the "do something now, even if it's wrong" approach that many favor? To ask the Feds to designate the river as impaired is to likely give up any ability for the state to influence the clean up of the River.

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