DEP chronicles story of Susquehanna River on new interactive website

By Bill O’Boyle - [email protected]
McDonnell -

HARRISBURG — Fans of the Susquehanna River can learn about adverse human impacts on the East Coast’s longest river and its tributaries and follow the progress of the Department of Environmental Protection’s efforts to tackle them on a new interactive, multimedia website called the Susquehanna River Story.

“Working with many partners, we’re developing and implementing programs that are paying off in addressing the wide range of challenges the Susquehanna faces,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell in a news release. “These are informed by innovative pollution assessment methods and stores of data we’ve developed that have made us a national leader in large-river monitoring.”

DEP has played an instrumental role in improving the health of the Susquehanna River Basin. For example, as a direct result of DEP acid mine drainage cleanup projects, the West Branch Susquehanna River — which was biologically dead about 15 years ago — now has aquatic life from near Clearfield to Lock Haven, including the return of healthy populations of native mussels from Sunbury to Williamsport.

The Susquehanna River Story website uses GIS maps, videos, charts, and photos to show where mining, agriculture, stormwater, and dams have impaired macro-invertebrate, fish, and plant life, as well as DEP’s progress in addressing these impairments. DEP research on smallmouth bass is also shared.

Site visitors can also see which streams have been impaired by farming activities, which streams have been impaired by acid mine drainage, and locations of successful treatment projects.

DEP has developed innovative continuous in-stream monitoring protocols to analyze water quality. Water samplers and computerized monitoring devices are left in the river for months to enable DEP to continually detect chemicals and other pollutants that would be difficult to discover with conventional testing methods.

These devices have enabled DEP to collect a great volume of data, including information on contaminants of emerging concern, such as certain hormones, pharmaceuticals, and pesticides.

Interactive river story websites are also planned for the Delaware, Ohio, Great Lakes, and Potomac River Basins in Pennsylvania.

To visit the Susquehanna site, go to:


By Bill O’Boyle

[email protected]