Feature: “State of the ‘Sock,” Loyalsock Creek Watershed Association
Watershed groups all over Pennsylvania take great pride in their work and share their results through newsletters to members and partners.
Here’s one example from the Loyalsock Creek Watershed Association in Lycoming and Sullivan counties that combines reporting on all their good work, and a lesson in stream chemistry--
For the past year, volunteers from around the watershed have been testing the water on a monthly basis. Marc Lewis, Jon Weaver, Herb Wahl, Britt Bassett, Richard Hill, Kevin Partington, Matthew Bennett and Carol Kafer have spent a lot of time and energy collecting and testing water samples. Here are some of the things we have learned:
Minimizing effects of acids. Alkalinity measures the capacity of water to neutralize acids. Alkalinity is an important property because it is a measure of the stream’s ability to neutralize acidic pollution from rainfall or waste water and raise the pH. Many of the essential animals that live in the Loyalsock creek can not tolerate acid conditions. Alkalinity measurements of less than 10 parts per million (ppm) indicate a high risk of acidity. From 10 to 20 ppm, the risk of acidification is moderate.
Alkalinity recorded by the DEP at the Loyalsockville bridge from 1962 through 2001 averages 14.2 ppm with a range of 5.5-28 ppm. Alkalinity recorded by the LCWA at the same location from 2002 through 2004 averages 23 ppm with a range of 0-32 ppm. The increase may be due to a difference in sampling equipment and techniques, or it may be the result of treatment of acid mine drainage in the headwaters. Regardless, the alkalinity of the Loyalsock Creek is substantially lower than what it needs to be to protect aquatic organisms from acid events.
pH: According to the DEP, the acceptable values for pH are between 6 and 9. On the three days of sampling in 2003, the pH at Ringdale Bridge on SR 220 was 6.36, 6.4 and 6.33. Between 1974 and 1982, the average pH at this location was 5.53. Two treatment facilities for acid mine drainage upstream from the Ringdale Bridge were completed in late 1999. Since then, the average pH at the Ringdale Bridge is about 6.2. This is quite an achievement because the pH of the water entering the treatment facilities has a pH between 3 and 4. Conclusion: The outflow from abandoned mines in the headwaters of the Loyalsock is a source of acid. Since mine acid helps to deplete existing buffers, we need to continue to treat mine drainage aggressively.
Undesirable Bacteria: Lycoming College clean Water Institute tested water along the ‘Sock twice during the summer of 2003. The only sampling location that had large numbers of fecal coliform (2400 per 100 ml) was a site on the Little Loyalsock about one mile down stream from Dushore. Those of us who forget to close our mouths while swimming in the ‘Sock are greatly relieved.
For more information on the Loyalsock Creek Watershed Association contact president Carol Kafer, by email to: email@example.com or call 570-320-2400, ext. 7678, or write LCWA, Box 216, Montoursville, PA 17754
Info Links: Map: Watersheds in Lycoming County
History: The LCWA has been in existence for about 30 years and was founded to preserve and protect a beautiful creek and its watershed from acid mine drainage and pollution associated with the dairy industry. The group has water quality data going back to the LCWA's inception-- evidence that the water quality has improved. The Association has about 200 members. President Carol Kafer said that although “many of the founders of the LCWA have passed on, we are grateful for what they began and the progress they made.”
A full copy of the LCWA “Loyal to the ‘Sock” newsletter is here.
Note: Sharing newsletters is a great way for organizations to learn tips and tricks from each other. (And brag a little!) If you would like to see your newsletter featured here, just send it to the Pa Environment Digest or give us a link!
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