Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Something's Fishy with our Susquehanna Smallmouth Bass


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Sierra Club - Pennsylvania Chapter

Dear Friends,

Fish health can tell us a lot about water quality.

The Susquehanna River, once home to prize winning and thriving smallmouth bass, is now filled with more and more sickly bass.

We've learned of studies of declining smallmouth population, diseased juvenile smallmouths, adults bearing nasty-looking lesions and unexplained spots, and problems with high pH, low dissolved oxygen and excessive nutrients.

With symptoms like this, we all should be worried! Tell the Environmental Protection Agency that this is NOT natural or acceptable!

Even Department of Environmental Protection's Secretary Krancer admits: "we recognize that there are issues facing smallmouth bass, such as what is called young-of-year die-offs; lesions on adult bass; and inter-sexing of the species." Yet DEP is unwilling to take the next step, that is, declaring the Susquehanna River as "impaired" water under the Clean Water Act. Fortunately, EPA has the authority to make this declaration on its own.

The PA Fish and Boat Commission has been pressing the state Department of Environmental Protection to designate the Susquehanna as impaired water under the Clean Water Act so that more work can be done to research and remedy the problems. Last May, 22 retired DEP water quality managers wrote to DEP Secretary, stating there was ample justification to make that determination. Local newspapers and organizations have joined in.[1]

Yet the DEP has refused to declare the Susquehanna waters impaired. Help us convince the EPA that the Susquehanna is in danger!

The time is ripe for EPA action because of other Chesapeake Bay issues. The river ultimately flows into the Chesapeake Bay, which is experiencing its own problems that some are blaming on upriver actions. The more Pennsylvania can examine the health of the river now, the better position the state will be in to address these other concerns. 

Don't wait! Please take action now to protect the Susquehanna.


Thomas Au
Conservation Chair
Sierra Club PA Chapter

[1] The Daily Item, Dec. 15, 2012:
The Patriot-News, Dec. 21, 2012:

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