Is The Susquehanna River Endangered?
By Ken Penrod

Our guide service brings hundreds of non-residents to fish the
Susquehanna River and the areas we concentrate in can ill afford the loss of tourist revenue

Hell yes!

I grew up in Portage, Pennsylvania, and virtually every day I walked alongside of a creek, orange in color, from coal mine run off that went unabated throughout the region. I remember thinking that “something is really wrong” but no one did much about it and those that could, didn’t because coal was gold and virtually every man’s job depended upon it. Like the present, we had a cabin in Cameron County, Pennsylvania, where the trout streams ran clear and clean—but almost overnight, the Sinnamahoning Creek, a tributary to the West Branch Susquehanna turned orange and everything that lived in her died. Strip mining for coal killed her—and no one did a damn thing about it.

Today, the main stem Susquehanna, between Sunbury and the Holtwood Dam, some 95 miles, as well as 50 miles of the lower Juniata River, is under similar attack and the government of the State of Pennsylvania refuses to do anything about it—just as they have always done traditionally. While the river is still the best smallmouth bass river know to me, the decline in fish population is quite obvious. Each year I spend six weeks in a motel in Duncannon to escort my clients to world-class fishing—but it’s not the same. Why would I leave the tidal Potomac, some 20-minutes away from my home, to fish, if she wasn’t great?

American Rivers, a watchdog conservation group has declared the Susquehanna River as “The Most Endangered River in America.”

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, John Arway, Executive Director, is so fearful of the fish decline that he put a halt to bass fishing between May 1 and June 15.

Anglers are catching bass with very nasty sores on their skin and the river has lost several complete year-classes of smallmouth bass because of low dissolved oxygen caused by horrific algae and God knows what else.

Ugly sores on smallmouth bass are becoming more common. Something is wrong and someone is covering it up.

You can smell the poultry waste throughout the river during the spring—and see ugly surface deposits at dawn that mysteriously disappear shortly after sunup.

The algal blooms of summertime are sickening.

Marcellus Shale drilling is destroying ground water—and perhaps the river, and it’s so bad in some areas that even PA has closed some operations. For one entire year the east side of the river ran brown with dirty water—and it wasn’t from heavy rains.

The PA department of Environmental Protection refuses to declare the river as “endangered” in spite of all this evidence. An “endangered” label would cause investigation—and tremendous lobby efforts are calling the shots.

The head of EPA is one Michael Krancer, former counsel to Exxon. Did you know that Exxon owns the power facilities at Three Mile Island; Muddy Run; Peach Bottom and 2/3rds of Safe Harbor—all electric producing facilities on the Susquehanna River. Of course you know that Exxon is heavily invested in Marcellus Shale drilling. It’s no secret that the gas and oil giants are also heavily invested in the politics of Pennsylvania. The Governor isn’t going to shoot the hen that lays the golden eggs.

 The vast majority of the Susquehanna valley is home to chicken, turkey, hog and cattle farms where tremendous volumes of animal waste is generated—and disposed of. To get around the very weak laws of disposal, heavy doses of liquefied animal poop is spread on fields, as “fertilizer” and where do you suppose that stuff goes when it rains?

Then of course, most of the sewage treatment plants along the river are malfunctioning—and many, many facilities release directly into the river.

The PA EPA has initiated a “Check Your Water” campaign where you are urged to choose a water for pollution existence. When you click on the Susquehanna River, it says “no data available.”

 This isn’t just a Pennsylvania problem either; See—The Susquehanna River supplies 60% of all freshwater to the Chesapeake Bay. Can you understand why the Bay is threatened?

Some 6,000,000 people drink Susquehanna water. Can you trust drinking water from a source so polluted?

The Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper, Michael Helfrich, is begging for public help—and is not getting it. That’s unacceptable. Reach him at riverkeeper@lowsusriverkeeper.org.

In five days the EPA will meet to discuss this issue. We need letters folks, lots of letters. Please complain to:

Bill Richards
Office of Standards, Assessment and TMDLS

Water Protection Agency
US Environmental Protection Agency
1650 Arch Street (3WP30)
Philadelphia, PA 19103


Shawn M. Garvin
Administrator for EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Region (3)

US Environmental Protection Agency
1650 Arch Street

Philadelphia, PA 19103

& copy

Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper
2098 Long Level Rd.
Wrightsville, PA 17368


I intend to use this article as my letter, and I will mass-mail to our substantial clientele as well as publish it in our magazine, LOU Magazine that can be seen at www.penrodsguides.com.