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Friday, March 18, 2011

Ode to Tuscarora Creek


Tuscarora Creek in Wyoming County ( PA, USA ) is a small stream that tumbles down from the mountains and empties into the Susquehanna River just below Laceyville. As best I can tell without studying maps in greater detail, it appears some of its headwaters may be in both Bradford and Susquehanna Counties.

According to this site, Tuscarora Creek is a coldwater fishery...and that means it probably has ( or had ) a native population of brook trout at one time or another.

I visited Tuscarora Creek on Sunday, February 20th, 2011. It was running very high due to the significant snow melt over the past few days, yet there were many places that I could walk across the creek in one stride...maybe two at the most.

In other words, at average flow levels, this stream is probably only a foot or two wide, at best.

The reason I've chosen Tuscarora Creek as the topic for today's post is that on March 10th, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission approved a permit submitted by Southwestern Energy Company to withdraw 500,000 gallons of water per day from this little stream. That's 15 million gallons per month, 180 million gallons per year from a creek you can hop across with minimal effort at normal flow.

Now, there is no USGS gauge on this creek. There is no historical streamflow data. It's just a little stream that's been flowing its present course since before the last Ice Age...and the SRBC has rubber-stamped the withdrawal of a half a million gallons a day of water from a coldwater stream without any studies (or consideration) to determine what impact this withdrawal will have on its ecosystem.


I wonder...has anyone from the SRBC even bothered to visit this stream?

Here's a link to the list of permits approved at the SRBC's quarterly meeting on March 10th. I might be off by a little, but in adding up the permits approved at this meeting that were directly tied to natural gas drilling or related activities, the SRBC rubber-stamped the withdrawal of over 14.5 million gallons per day. That's over 5 BILLION gallons of fresh water per year...from one quarterly meeting. If my math is correct, at 21 cents per 1,000 gallons, that will result in just a little over $1 million in income per year for the Susquehanna River Basin Commission. Of course, I recognize that withdrawal rates might vary and would more than likely be less for multiple reasons...but I think you get the picture.

My friends...what will you do to save Tuscarora Creek? 


1 comment:

  1. What a shame! The little creek is beautiful and, to my eye as well as the writer's, far too small to sustain such withdrawal. Though I recognize that an ever-expanding population may seem to require the exhaustion of all resources, what can possibly be the sense in this decision? Is the SRBC on the take?