Paper No. 12
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM
ANALYSIS OF WATER QUALITY IN FISHING CREEK, CLINTON CO., PA—AN AGRICULTURALLY IMPAIRED SUB-WATERSHED OF THE WEST BRANCH SUSQUEHANNA RIVER
Agricultural non-point source (NPS) pollution is the leading source of water-quality impairment to many of the nation's rivers and lakes as well as a major contributor to ground-water contamination and wetland degradation. NPS pollutants, including high nutrient and sediment loads, contaminate ecosystems, interfere with recreational uses, and affect esthetics locally. These impaired waters contribute to and degrade the quality of the water regionally as well. Currently, limited scientific data exist on water quality in terms of nutrients and suspended sediment loads for the streams draining the agriculturally productive karst valleys in central Pennsylvania. Detailed data, addressing the spatial and temporal variations in nutrients and suspended sediment, are essential in order to characterize small, rural watersheds and thus generate effective BMPs and TMDLs for higher-order streams. To aid the efforts of those agencies charged with planning and creating assessment tools aimed at reducing NPS pollution and improving water quality, we began a long-term, base-line data collection in 2002 focusing on nutrient and sediment flux within the Big Fishing Creek watershed, Clinton Co, northcentral PA. Big Fishing Creek is a major tributary to Bald Eagle Creek, which, in turn, flows into the West Branch Susquehanna River, the main stem, and ultimately to Chesapeake Bay. The results of the study indicate the following: (1) turbidity and suspended solids are high year around, but are significantly higher in the spring; (2) high nitrate and phosphate concentrations correlate to both specific point as well as non-point sources; (3) TDS and conductance values are generally higher during the winter months. These data, as well as preliminary conclusions and recommendations, are provided to the community-based watershed association, the county's conservation district, and SRBC.