Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Lower, Middle Susquehanna RiverKeepers Urge Public To Use Water Report App To Report Water Quality, Fishing Conditions

Lower and Middle Susquehanna RiverKeepers urge the public to use the Water Report App from OurCommonCode to report water quality and fishing conditions.  Here's a recent article on the App and its use from the RiverKeepers--

Growing up on a small farm in Huntingdon County and falling in love with whitewater paddling adventures, R. John Dawes [the son of John Dawes of the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds] saw first-hand the importance of clean water and how issues that threatened that resource impacted the aquatic ecosystem.

“I used to instruct whitewater kayaking and paddled a pretty significant portion of my life, so I love a lot of the creeks in Pennsylvania,” he said. “I have seen first-hand the significant impacts of abandoned mine lands. When I started paddling near Johnstown, the river would actually burn your eyes when you would roll and that was due to the acidity that is associated with acid mine drainage. There were really orange riverbanks and no fish – things were completely still. The water couldn’t support macroinvertebrates or fish.”

Thankfully, in the years since, there have been a variety of mitigation efforts in that area, according to Dawes.

“There has been almost a decade of both active and passive treatment,” he said. “The colors are changing back to normal. People can actually fish it. You can start to see those things come back.”

Dawes’ experiences along the state’s waterways inspired his efforts behind co-founding The Commons, a company dedicated to building digital infrastructure to support the environmental movement. 

One of two headliner apps from the company is Water Reporter, a program inspired by waterkeepers along the Potomac River.

“The technology allows any member of the public to download a mobile app and start sharing observations from the nearby waterways,” said Dawes. “It’s a lot like Instagram, but for water quality, in that if you are out and about, you can snag a photo of your local stream or of a fish you just caught and it does some really neat things.”

Among them, Dawes relayed, is that the app automatically tags the location and associates it with the watershed where it was shared.

“So what is happening is that we’re beginning to build a massive set of records about our local waterways,” he said. “Many people are participating and serving to share and crowdsource this information.”

Both the Middle Susquehanna and Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper associations utilize Water Reporter and encourage people who come across concerns to document them via the app.

“One really awesome campaign we have going on is with the Susquehanna riverkeepers and the bass population in the Susquehanna,” said Dawes. “As anglers share their catches, there is an opportunity to watch for trends in those reports, such as things like body lesions, mucoid lesions or fungus – all of which can be indicators of poor water quality.”

This does not mean that anglers should only submit photos of species in which there are issues, added Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper John Zaktansky.

“We want to develop a complete baseline, and there is a lot of valuable information from seeing a large set of data from all catches from not only the river, but also tributaries that feed into it,” he said. “This isn’t just a bass thing. We are looking for reports of any and all species, and over time as we get more participation in this program, the trends we identify can help us locate a wide variety of potential issues.”

“It is important to look at this stuff as broad and encompassing,” Dawes said. “Documenting as much as possible – both good and bad – is very important because we are able to glean information on how people recreate, how people interact with their local waterway and other data that can be imperative to collect.”

Programs via both the Middle and Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper associations encourage those who report fish with noticeable irregularities to flag them using certain hashtags, such as #bodylesion, #melanisticspots, #fungus or #mucoidlesion.

It all starts with downloading the Water Reporter app – something Dawes recommends doing ahead of time.

“Sign up for your free account before getting on the water so you are set up and ready,” he said. “It’s as easy as downloading the app, creating your free account, and from there you can join certain campaigns, such as the Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper.”

That designation is important, Zaktansky added.

“Reports that are flagged under the Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper are immediately pulled into an interactive map we make available to the public on our website,” he said. “If you catch your fish in the Lower Susquehanna watershed – basically anywhere below where the Penns Creek enters the Susquehanna south of Selinsgrove, make sure to flag it under the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper account.”

The actual photo report should be made at the time of your catch.

“There is a big ‘plus’ button in the middle of the app when you have it open, and that will take you to the screen where you can very easily add a photo, some comments and any hashtags. Then save it and you are good to go,” Dawes said. “The map location will zoom right to where you are, so the hard part of having to interact with a map is already baked into the process.”

Early returns have been positive for those who have participated in the project.

“It was really easy to use,” said Lewisburg resident Kyle Golla, who has shared a number of images of fish caught by himself and his family in both the lower North and West branches. “I love the idea of sharing info about our amazing Susquehanna.”

The app’s capabilities go beyond reporting images of fish, Dawes admitted.

“One of the things we’ve noticed trending is harmful algal blooms. In another initiative, we’ve had individuals and organizations come to us with quantitative monitoring data, including parameters such as nitrogen and phosphorus levels and turbidity,” he said. “We are encouraging all people who spend time along our waterways to be observant and use the app to report concerns you may come across.”

For more information about the Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper’s Water Report efforts, including the interactive map of reports shared so far. 

[How Clean Is Your Stream?

[DEP’s Interactive Report Viewer allows you to zoom in on your own stream or watershed to find out how clean your stream is or if it has impaired water quality using the latest information in the draft 2020 Water Quality Report.]

Related Articles This Week:

-- Chesapeake Bay Foundation Reports Bay Health Down Slightly, But There Is Hope

-- Foundation For PA Watersheds Schedule For Spring, Fall Grant Applications

-- PA Organization For Watersheds & Rivers Hosts Jan. 15 Webinar On Stream Hydrology And Geomorphology In Restoration Planning 

-- NRCS-PA Hosts Jan. 13 Online Program On Requesting Farm Conservation Assistance

-- Susquehanna River Basin Commission Adopts General Permit For Groundwater Remediation Projects

-- Chesapeake Bay Foundation: New EPA Rule Limits Access To Sound Science

[Posted: January 5, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

No comments :

Post a Comment

Subscribe To Receive Updates:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner