Raise the Region offers a chance to reflect on past year's successes as we raise money for the River's future
He walked toward us along the rural dead-end Degreen Road, with an empty leash in one hand and a look of exasperation under his sweat-laced forehead.
“My dog got loose,” Zach said, his eyes darting beyond us to continue the search. “I’ve been looking for hours.”
The chance encounter happened on a hot mid-July afternoon while then-Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association intern Danielle Tryon and I canvassed the neighborhood for potential homeowners that may have interest in residential well water testing and eventual treatment. The effort was sparked by funds received in a settlement agreement with Talen Energy earlier in 2021.
“Now what do I do?” Zach asked, shaking his head. “This dog reeks, but so does my water. I can’t turn it on without the entire house smelling horrible. I can’t shower at home or wash my dishes. I don’t feel comfortable drinking it or giving it to my dogs.”
Since that time, our association worked with Zach to better assess his water situation, identifying elevated levels of hardness and bacteria along with elements such as lithium, manganese and strontium. Researching track records for treatment systems and the local companies that put them in, our association helped obtain a system for Zach’s home that has cleaned up the concerns with his water.
“That new system has completely changed my life. I’m able to now do dishes in my sink and get a shower and get my dogs clean and fresh water,” he said. “And, I can turn my water on and let it run and it doesn’t smell up the whole house, so that’s a big plus.”
The Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association continues to work with other homeowners in the area, assisting them in obtaining better treatment options. This has been just one of several important clean-water improvements from our March 2021 settlement agreement.
It is an example of one of many successes we have enjoyed over the past year – thanks in large part to the growing support of local individuals, groups and businesses that help our association financially, through countless volunteer hours and by sharing out a vital flow educational blog posts, investigative stories and podcast episodes we have developed to raise awareness of water quality topics throughout the watershed.
Check out some of our highlights in the following promo video:
“We may not have won the voting, but in a lot of ways, we did win because it brought a lot of awareness to us and we couldn’t have done it without the Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper and the outstanding work that they do.”
“I learned how to paddle more efficiently, turn around on a kayak and how to fish,” said 13-year-old Liya Shimony, of Lewisburg, after the seven-hour program day in which she caught 13 fish and built her kayaking confidence to a point where she tackled several late-afternoon competitions. “I really enjoyed the fun games that we played on the kayaks, catching fish and cooking the fish.”
Each HERYN program day ended with an Enviroscape presentation on pollution, watersheds and how to better protect our aquatic resources.
“I can continue recycling and using less water,” said Shimony. “In addition, I could teach others about our polluted watershed.”
Learn more about this year’s slate of HERYN program days and register your child or grandchild before the program is completely full.
“I really liked looking down into the water from the boat and thinking about what was down there besides fish,” said 12-year-old Cerafina McKee after her family attended a session focused on snakes and songs. “I also liked touching a rattlesnake and then afterwards showing all my friends the hand I used to touch it. It all really inspired me to be more aware of pollution and the environment.”
Floating Classroom sessions for this summer are already coming together. Check out the latest info on themes, presenters and purchase tickets for some of our earlier cruises by visiting www.middlesusquehannariverkeeper.org/floating-classroom.html.
The Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association was invited by Eastern Hellbender researcher Dr. Peter Petokas to tag along on a restoration project releasing 124 juveniles in August of 2021 and also has joined in litigation against the US Fish and Wildlife Service to enact better protections for our state amphibian.
“When we started studying the streams in the Susquehanna River watershed, we noticed the hellbenders were either disappearing or were gone,” said Petokas. “So we partnered together to try and restart historic hellbender populations.”
The association also is putting the final touches on plans for Volume 2 of our popular Songs of the Susquehanna project, encouraging a talented base of musicians to develop original songs inspired by the river and organizing an album that helps engage new audiences about aquatic issues.
“This opportunity to have so many talented people provide such a variety of songs and different styles, people are going to learn about the Susquehanna through these efforts,” said musician Jack Servello. “I think there is nothing better than putting out music, putting out poetry and getting that message out there that the Susquehanna River is the life-sustaining part of Pennsylvania.”
Recently, we partnered with the Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring (ALLARM) out of Dickinson College to create a network of volunteer monitors for a Lycoming and Clinton county Stream Team effort, allowing us to get a more robust series of water quality data as we continue to expand monitoring efforts across the region.
We also continue to encourage people to use the Water Reporter App to share images from their time within or along our aquatic ecosystem, with a real-time interactive map of reports from those who participate.
Ultimately, we continue to work hard to improve water quality and connect people with our resources in a way that will foster a new generation of stewards. Help us achieve this goal by donating to our association during Raise the Region between 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 9, to 11:59 p.m. Thursday, March 10, 2022.
John Zaktansky is an award-winning journalist and avid promoter of the outdoors who loves camping, kayaking, fishing and hunting with the family.