The Susquehanna River is the largest contributor of fresh water to the Chesapeake Bay. Since the earliest European settlements to the 21st century, the drainage basin has undergone vast changes in land use, including logging, oil and natural gas development, coal mining, agriculture, and urban growth.
Since the 1970s, the overall health of the river has been gradually improving in distinct ways, especially as abandoned mine discharge and sediment runoff is addressed and reduced. Of great importance is the continued monitoring of the river and regulation of water withdrawals from the basin and the quality of discharges to the river. Another benefit has been the implementation of best management practices (BMPs) by the agriculture and timbering industries.
Current environmental research is helping guide remediation and conservation efforts throughout the watershed.
The situation is complex and the Susquehanna River faces enormous pressure from many different directions. Additional research of the the river is needed, especially of its hydrology and physical habitat, and how dissolved oxygen fluctuations, heavy metals and endocrine disrupters are affecting aquatic life. Also of concern is the potential impact of the development of natural gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale, which underlies much of the watershed’s headwater regions.
The goal of this symposium is to present the findings of our collaborative research and identify areas to explore in the future:
- What is the research telling us?
- What monitoring and assessment efforts are underway?
- What things are of concern and need further exploration?