Federal approval of a waterway monitoring plan is seen as good news or bad news for the Susquehanna River. The longest on the American East Coast at 464 miles, it's a major Pennsylvania artery draining into Chesapeake Bay.
Last week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved the state Department of Environmental Protection's 2012 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report, which contains summaries of water quality standards, pollution sources and descriptions of programs to protect lakes, wetlands and groundwater quality.
The state DEP views the feds' acceptance of its report as a step toward establishing conditions that will allow it to document the degree to which the Susquehanna is impaired, and recommend and implement changes.
John Arway, executive director of the state Fish and Boat Commission, calls acceptance of the report "extremely disappointing" because it delays action on developing a clean-up plan for the Susquehanna River for at least another two years.
"We continue to believe that ample scientific evidence exists to demonstrate that the river is sick and needs help sooner than later," said Arway, in a written statement. "Smallmouth bass are dying and it is imperative that we begin to take steps to clean up the river."
Arway cites a recent EPA survey that found four Susquehanna sampling sites -- two in Pennsylvania -- rating poor for fish, algae and microbes, water quality and total phosphorus levels.
"Since EPA's own data corroborated the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission's findings that the river is of poor quality," said Arway, "we are surprised that EPA did not conclude that we need to list the river as impaired and develop a plan to fix it."
Venture Outdoors Fest
Billed as "a celebration of the outdoors for everyone," there will be something for everyone 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday at Point State Park, Downtown. Activities at the free festival include fishing, kayaking, biking, wall climbing, yoga, dragon boating and casting practice with the Post-Gazette. Details at www.ventureoutdoors.org.