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Susquehanna River Not on ‘Most Endangered’ List

The Susquehanna River, tops on the American Rivers 2011 Most Endangered Rivers list, is not on the list at all this year. Photo courtesy of
The Susquehanna River, tops on the American Rivers 2011 Most Endangered Rivers list, is not on the list at all this year. Photo courtesy of
April 11, 2014

HARRISBURG, Pa. – How does a Pennsylvania river considered the most endangered in the nation in a 2011 report manage to drop off the list altogether?

Three years ago, when the group American Rivers issued its annual list of America's Ten Most Endangered Rivers, the Susquehanna sat at the very top.

There were questions about the effects of hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale, over which the Susquehanna and its tributaries flow.

Liz Deardorff, director of the American Rivers Clean Water Program Pennsylvania, says in the time since, there have been opportunities to learn more about fracking, as it's called, but that's not to say there aren't still concerns.

"The market has given us an opportunity to allow the industry growth to slow down enough so that policies are starting to catch up,” she says. “But I think that there remain a fair number of mysteries in terms of us knowing whether or not we really do have enough protective policies in place."

Deardorff says the American Rivers annual report focuses year-to-year on rivers where hot button issues are prompting calls to action to improve water quality.

In February of this year, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission released a report showing some increases in water turbidity as a result of pipeline construction in some of 50 watersheds tested in the Susquehanna River.

Deardorff says more water-quality monitoring and low-flow policies in recent years have helped the health of the Susquehanna.

"It takes a minimum flow to make sure that we have enough water in the river for healthy fisheries, enough water use for all our industries, for our drinking water supplies, and as well, to ensure that the habitat that occurs in the flood plain can also be healthy," she says.

In its most recent report, American Rivers calls California's San Joaquin River the most endangered in the nation, based on outdated water management and issues brought on by the current drought.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - PA