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CCW Conference: Protecting the Susquehanna River


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The Susquehanna River is the lifeblood of local communities throughout central Pennsylvania. Residents rely on the river for drinking water, recreation, and economic opportunities. It’s no surprise that there has been an outpouring of concern in recent years as anglers and biologists have seen declines in fish populations, especially in young smallmouth bass

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CCW Conference: Protecting the Susquehanna River

  2. 2. John Arway, Executive DirectorPA Fish & Boat Commission present the overview of the river and what it meanseconomically for a region, synopsis on river health andrecent declines in the smallmouth fishery, overview ofrecent challenges re: the listing, need for action andany parallels to otherwaterbodies. Moderate the Session
  3. 3. Susquehanna RiverThe Basin:• Drains 27,510 square miles,covering half the land area ofPennsylvania and portions ofNew York and Maryland.• Includes all or portions of 66counties.• Comprises 43 percent of theChesapeake Bays drainagearea.• Has more than 49,000 miles ofwaterways• Has a population of more than 4Million• Is the largest tributary of theChesapeake Bay, providing 50percent of its fresh water flows.Source:
  4. 4. Historical significanceWidely considered one of the bestsmallmouth bass destinations in thecountryIn 2005, Bassmaster Magazine listedas one of top 5 riversAmerican Rivers listed as the America’sMost Endangered River in 2005 and2011
  5. 5. YOY Fish Disease Appears in 2005
  6. 6. 05101520253035#/50mSusquehanna River (middle) YOY smallmouthbass catch ratesYOY SMBAverage
  7. 7. “Blotchy” Bass SyndromeAdult Bass FishIssues
  8. 8. 050100150200250Fish/HourYearCatch rate of age-1 and older smallmouth bassfrom the middle Susquehanna River: 1990 topresent
  9. 9. Multiple StressorsIncreased Water TemperaturesBacteriaIntersex Conditions
  10. 10. Big business Fishing and Boating are big business inPennsylvania $3.4 billion to PA economy, annually 18,000 jobs $120 million in state and local taxrevenue, annually Major recreational resource Susquehanna River smallmouth bass(PFBC 2010) Nearly 126,201 trips $3,700,170 (2012 Dollars)Photo: M. Hendricks
  11. 11. Request for PADEP and U.S. EPA toDeclare the River Sick (Impaired)Healthy Fishery, Healthy River Sick Fishery, Sick River
  12. 12. 2013 EPA National Rivers And Streams Assessment:More Than Half Of Waterways In Poor Shape"The recently published EPA National Rivers and StreamsAssessment Survey found that over 55 percent of our nationsstreams and rivers do not support healthy populations ofaquatic life. A total of 40 percent of our waters have beenidentified to have high levels of phosphorus and 27 percenthave high levels of nitrogen. Four sampling sites of thenational survey were located on the Susquehanna River andthe two Pennsylvania sites rated poor forfish, periphyton, water quality and total phosphorus. SinceEPAs own data corroborated the PFBCs findings that theriver is of poor quality, we are surprised that EPA did notconclude that we need to list the river as impaired and developa plan to fix it.”
  13. 13.
  14. 14. Acknowledgements USGS Leetown Science Center, NationalFish Health Research Laboratory Vicki Blazer Luke Iwanowicz Heather Ellery USGS PA Water Science Center Jeff Chaplin PFBC Staff U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NortheastFishery Center Susquehanna River Technical and PolicyCommittees
  15. 15. Questions