1999 Newsletters

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September 1999      

DROUGHT EMERGENCY DECLARED: CONSERVATION CAN HELP AVOID RATIONING OF WATER

July 27, 1999, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Swatara Creek Watershed Association held a joint press conference to educate the public about our water supply and ways to conserve water during the current drought emergency, and beyond.  Mike Steiner, DEP South-central Regional Director; Jo Ellen Litz, SCWA president and Lebanon County Commissioner; Representative Ed Krebs; Betty Conner, SCWA secretary; and Kyle Smith, Annville Township supervisor and member of the Quittapahilla Watershed Association, explained the current drought situation using the Lebanon Water Authority intake as a back-drop.

The Siegrist Dam is down eight feet. Fifteen feet is the warning stage and thirty feet is an emergency situation.  A typical reservoir is an inverted cone shape. Therefore, considerably more water is stored in the surface footage when at capacity than when the water table is low. The point is, without rain, the water level of the reservoir would drop more quickly, and we must act now to conserve water.

Conservation methods adopted today can lead to a life-time of conservation. For example, inexpensive low-flow shower heads or aerating kitchen faucets can reduce water consumption by 50%. A water displacement device made from an empty soda bottle with a screw-on cap, label removed, and weighted with stones can be placed in your toilet tank to save a gallon of water on every flush. Old bricks, that can drop sediment and cause a permanent leak at your seal, are not recommended.

Water is like liquid gold, sometimes even more precious than gold. Please do your part to conserve water today and every day.

Conservation Tips:

bulletDon't wash your car with a hose. Use a bucket, or go to the  car wash.
bulletDo turn off the faucet when brushing teeth, shaving, or doing dishes.
bulletProviding you donít have a water softener that adds salt, collect shower and bathroom sink water in a graywater tank.
bulletUse graywater to water gardens and refill swimming pools.
bulletCollect water from dripping air conditioners or dehumidifiers for watering purposes.
bulletFor the long-haul, plant shade trees and shrubs in appropriate spots to save on expensive heating and cooling costs.
bulletMake a water displacement device for your toilet from an empty soda bottle.
bulletInstall inexpensive low-flow shower heads and aerating kitchen faucets.
bulletDonít water established lawns.

Next meeting 9/29/99-Farmerís Wife-Route 22-Ono

Volunteers Needed: Intern, newsletter editor, and bulk mail handler. Contact Jo Ellen 274-1175.

Beyond Reduce, Reduse & Recycle

Eco-efficiency. What is it? In an article provided by Pat Pingel entitled "The Next Industrial Revolution", a new approach aims to solve rather than alleviate the problems industry makes. Bottom line, "doing more with less." Pointing to Henry Ford who promoted lean and clean operating policies that saved his company money by recycling and reusing materials, minimizing packaging, and setting new standards with his timesaving assembly line we are reminded of Henryís quote, "You must get the most out of the power, out of the material, and out of the time"

All this while generating less pollution and waste, using renewable rather than non-renewable resources minimizes adverse impacts on human health and the environment, So who are the industries using this philosophy today?  According to the article, Dow, Du Pont, Con Agra, and Chevron were leaders at the Earth Summit where Monsanto, 3M, and Johnson & Johnson committed them to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Then came the blow. What sounded like a swell plan was condemned. The article continued, "Eco- efficiency is outwardly admirable and a certainly well-intended concept, but, unfortunately it is not a strategy for success over the long term, because it does not reach deep enough." "Customers should buy the service of industrial products, and when they have finished, or want to upgrade, the manufacturer should take back the old ones and use their complex materials in new products." Sell intelligence, not poison. Respect diversity and use the sun. Heavy stuff. Hereís the proposed solution:

bulletintroduce no hazardous materials into the air, water, or soil;
bulletmeasure prosperity by how much natural capital can accrue in productive ways;
bulletmeasure productivity by how many people are gainfully and meaningfully employed;
bulletmeasure progress by how many buildings have no smokestacks or dangerous effluents;
bulletdo not require regulations whose purpose is to stop us from killing ourselves too quickly;
bulletproduce nothing that will require future generations to maintain vigilance;
bulletcelebrate the abundance of biological and cultural diversity and solar income.

What a thoughtful article. If we work toward these goals, weíll have fewer confrontations and articles like the next one wonít be necessary.

Pine Grove Township to Oppose Landfill Expansion Plan

According to the Pottsville Republican on 8/4/99 114 Citizens met to discuss the proposed Pine Grove Landfill expansion. PGL has operated since 1990 and will run out of space in four years. A recent purchase of 173 acres would extend PGLís life by 16 years. Since a variance from rural preservation is needed, itís not a done deal.

520 Sign Petition to Bar Water Sales

In the midst of a drought, Pine Grove citizens also question the wisdom of Great Springs Water of America Inc, to buy three springs and bore hole to increase output from 175,000 to 288,000 gallons/day. Perrier and Far Away Spring Co. are involved in the deal. The Susquehanna River Basin Commission will make a decision on the permit September 9.

Fort Indiantown Gap

An 18,000 acre military training facility in Lebanon and Schuylkill Counties was relinquished in 1998 as part of base

closings around the nation and turned over to the PA National Guard and Army Reserve. In an effort to maintain a viable facility, the GAP is proposing 42 projects line a new tank range and runway. An Environmental Impact Statement is in the works, and residents are being asked to comment on the proposals, collectively or individually.

Dauphin County Greenway Moving Ahead

A 12 mile stretch from Middletown to Lebanon County along the Swatara Creek is scheduled for hiking trails, boat launches, and other recreational facilities. Royalton, Middletown, Hummelstown, Londonderry, Lower Swatara, Swatara, Derry, South Hanover, and East Hanover are adopting resolutions at the request of Dauphin County Park and Recreation to preserve the Swatara Creek and its environment for future generations. WAY TO GO GUYS!!!!

Berks Reviews Nutrient Management Plans

According to Brian Bachman, a 26,000 head hog factory spread over four adjoining farms has submitted nutrient management plans that could contract the transport of 13 million gallons of manure per year to Lebanon County.

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June 1999

AUDIT

Both the Federal 990 and State Income Tax Returns as well as the audited statement of assets, liabilities, and net assets of SCWA and related statement of support, revenue, and expenses for the year ended December 31, 1998 were received from Steiner and Faren. These documents can be reviewed at the Watershed office.

ALCOA FOUNDATION

Recently, ALCOA Foundation awarded SCWA a generous $1,000 grant for local projects.

RIVERS CONSERVATION PLAN UPDATE
SWCA chose Mackin Engineering for data collection, analysis and planning necessary to prepare a River Conservation Plan for the entire 570 square miles in Berks, Dauphin, Lebanon and Schuylkill counties. We were impressed with their record in completing Rivers Conservation Plans in PA that resulted in inclusion on the PA River Registry, one of our goals. Mackin has committed to having the Swatara Watershed listed by October 31, 2000. We will follow guidelines established by DCNRís Rivers Conservation Program. SCWA completed step one, the Public Information Phase by hosting advertised public meetings on 3/9/96, 10/27, 10/31, and 11/7/98. Outcomes will include a written Conservation plan and GIS layers that will be available on a CD disc and distributed at no cost to each municipality in the Watershed. Because there is "power" in numbers, this joint planning effort can result in favorable grants for implementation of the projects outlined in the Plan, from farmland preservation to canoe access points and mine acid drainage reclamation. Thank you to everyone, especially the municipalities, for providing letters of support to make this project happen!  

GREEN COMMUNITY

Another effort that could result in favorable funding opportunities is a recent decision by the SCWA board to apply as a Green Community in EPA Region III. A Green Community is one which is working towards a sustainable futureóa healthy environment, a strong economy, and a high quality of life for all its citizens. A sustainable community ensures its future by: performing a community assessment; analyzing its trends; envisioning what it wants to be like in the future; developing action plans, and then implementing its plans. We saw this as a parallel to what weíre doing with the PA Rivers Conservation Plan, and thought it would be a good addition to our program.

CALENDAR of EVENTS

MAY

26 SCWA Meeting, 9:30AM, Sallieís Place, Jonestown

JUNE

11 Workshop on "Rural Land Use in Lebanon County" at Cedar Crest Middle School

30 SCWA Meeting, 9:30AM, Sallieís Place, Jonestown

JULY

18-23 Lebanon County Junior Conservation School, ages 13-16 at Levitz Park. Fully paid scholarships available. For more information, write to Lebanon County Federation of Sportsmenís Clubs, 2039 Ranch Ave., Lebanon 17042.

28 SCWA Meeting, 9:30AM, Watersorks Cano Launch Clean up. Bring a bag lunch.

 Marian & John Hrubovcak, DEP, get a push-off by Randy Malstrom of the Lebanon Valley Scuba Club.

In the end, 44 tires were taken to Simon S Kettering for recycling, and two overflowing dumpsters of trash, including a VCR and computer, were transported by Weidle Sanitation to the Greater Lebanon Refuse Authority.

Other Canoe trip sponsors who deserve our sincere thanks include: AES Ironwood, Bayer, the Capital Chapter Society of Women Environmental Professionals, Hershey Foods, Hummelstown Borough, Hutter Stores, Inc., Izaak Walton League of Lebanon County, League of Women Voters of Lebanon County, Lebanon County Conservation District, Lebanon Water Authority, PA Bureau of State Parks, PA American Water Company, Penn StateCooperative Extension, Ronís Beer Depot, Schuylkill Conservation District, Susquehanna River Basin Commission, Union Canal Canoe Rentals, and Wengertís Dairy.

JUMP OR DUMP  Guest Editorial By Mike Pavelek

It was a beautiful day, the first of May, for the eleventh annual Swatara Creek Watershed Associationís clean-up of the

Swatara Creek. This is important to me because the "Swattie" is the source of our drinking water, and that of many others who participate each year.

It was a good turn-out. Many of the regular participants were there and the scouts. The groups had to depart in two flotillas. Also in the first group were Larry Taylor and his daughter Claire and may people who were familiar from past participation including Ken and Kathleen Smith from Hummelstown and Richard and Anna Lauer from Bethel Township.

This year my favorite canoe partner and wife was not able to attend and I was honored to be teamed with Betts Shultz. We volunteered and were assigned the lead boat position. After a briefing about paddle signals, safety matters, route, and take-out location, we launched our trusty canoe, #UC 17, rented from Union Canal Canoe Rentals, and led the mighty flotilla downstream, sweeping all the refuse from the stream as we passed, and pushing the geese ahead of us as we paddled onward.

We came to the first chute and negotiated it flawlessly! Below the chute the paddle was held upward, blade to the left. "Stay left," we called out to those following. They did and all was well.

Continuing to collect garbage and follow the lead goose that always stayed ahead of our boats, honking to notify other geese of our presence, we continued on our mission to clean up our favorite stream and drinking water supply.

The second chute was ahead, marked by an apparent rise in the water from the hydraulic which extended unbroken across the stream width. Rising to get a better look at the chute, I observed the path on the left led directly to some large rocks. There was one narrow chute on the right, which looked like deep water. The paddle was extended to the right: "stay right" we called out! "Paddle left,"

I advised my partner, and we paddled mightily to move into the right chute with enough momentum to clear the narrow opening between two major hydraulics without paddling.

We coasted through the chute and across the hydraulics without so much as a scratch on the bottom of our little rented boat! Bill & Ruth, back at the boat rental, were proud of us, although they didnít know it. But we were pleased and stayed below the chute to guide the next boat into the exact channel to pass the obstructions. We resumed our journey with the lead goose guiding the way down the Swattie, about a hundred feet in front of the goat. The mighty flotilla paddled westward!

Oh! Look there on the right bank! Is that a garbage bag hanging from that tree?

Yes! Steer over there and weíll get it.

"Look at all of the bottles beside that downed tree!" My partner pointed with her paddle to some bottles skimmed by a fallen tree from some very turbulent water to our downstream side.

"Iím not going over there because the others are right behind us and we need to scout ahead. We would have to paddle back up from below the tree to safely reach the bottles and that will make all of the others wait for much longer than if one of the following boats goes over there."

"We need to collect some garbage," Betts protested. "We canít leave it all for the other boats."

"When we get ahead of the others, or closer to the take-out point, we will stop and fill our bags with the discarded treasures of humanity in areas that we have time to safely approach without holding up the others," I promised.

"OK Captain," Betts grudgingly condoned to this.

Just ahead the waters of the mighty Swattie parted and moved smartly (Rushed would be an exaggeration) to both sides of a field of rocks which appeared in the center of the steam and at the head of a minor rapid. I rose to get a better view and noted grass just beyond the chute on the left side and very shallow water on the right side. The channel on the left side turned 90 degrees to the right about 30 feet below the parting of the mighty Swattie, indicating a challenging passage.

The goose that was leading the might flotilla took to the air, abandoning us with a clatter of wings and raucous honking at the top of the hydraulic. Did this indicate trouble?

"We will have to turn left, then immediately to the right to avoid being swamped on the grass at the bottom of the channel," I observed.

"What do you want me to do?" Betts asked.

"Paddle into the channel, then draw right at the bottom to keep us from the grass." I waved the paddle overhead to indicate for the flotilla to stop until we could scout the channel from the bottom and verify a safe passage.

Betts paddled right, I paddled left, and we were into the chute. The canoe bobbed on the hydraulics, we make the first turn. The canoe turned left and bobbed again, coming down on a rock which was on the upstream, left, side of the boat just behind the front seat. We were in a dangerous position. The front of the boat was in the chute pointing downstream and the stern was angled about 80 degrees to the oncoming current entering the channel. Leaning right, I planted the paddle in the stream bed to brace the rear of the canoe from turning about onto the rocks and lifted myself from the boat in an attempt to float us off. The force of the current pushed the left side of the canoe down. Water started to splash over the left side into the boat. I raised the paddle, desperately hoping the canoe would swing about and clear the rocks. The rear of the canoe was pushed forcefully into the rocks and again turned the left side under the current. I tried to lean downstream and free the front. It wasnít working. "Jump or Dump" flashed through my mind as the boat filled with water washing across the left side.

I had a flashback: I was in a sinking canoe and could clearly see our then 12 year old son being swept under the vow of a canoe as the current rolled us, the canoe and all our gear under a mostly submerged tree that was being whipped by the current. I remembered the terror when I surfaced, and he was not there; the relief when he appeared 150 yards downstream and he locked onto a downed tree that was being whipped by the current. I remembered how fast my body went numb in the cold water and how it seemed like hours to pull him from the river with a rescue rope, then attempt to light a fire with shaking handsÖ." Just stand up, itís the Swattie.

Dropping the paddle under the brace, I jumped overboard upstream of the boat! I sunk rapidly into the swirling waters of the Swattie, doing the "Nestea Plunge" but my feet landed on the bottom of the channel before my trusty life preserver could provide buoyancy. The boat was filled with water. Betts was sitting on the front seat in amazement, shocked, possibly both. Her backpack was now floating in the water filled boat behind her.

I attempted to maneuver the canoe from the rocks. It was hopelessly pinned against the rocks by the current. I remembered the manuals from many decades ago, which stressed: "Always exit the canoe on the upstream side to prevent being crushed between the boat and any obstruction. Current is a mighty force and will result in several tons of pressure against the canoe, causing possible injury or worse to anyone pinned between the canoe and an obstruction." The canoe was hopelessly locked against the rocks. The manuals were correct! I was grateful that we were not in big water. I was grateful that we were not alone. I was grateful that we had not totally submerged.

The canoe was still upright but full of water. Betts was wet from the hips down and the immediate concern was the increased potential for hypothermia if she was dumped into the water above her waist. I attempted to lift the rear of the boat from the rocks and guide it down the channel to the grassy area at the second turn. I huffed and puffed and grunted. Pulling and pushing until I was gasping for breath, I could not move the canoe. Between the weight of 300 or so gallons of water in the boat and the force of the current, it was just too much. I abandoned this effort before I need the oxygen bottle that Jo Ellen had talked about at the take out point.

Since the canoe was securely perched on the stream bottom, I could get Betts to the shore and remove the hypothermia concern.

Betts was a great lady. "I need some ballast," Betts stated as she stepped into the rushing water. "I can walk but the current is pushing me away." I was adequate ballast for both of us. There were no complaints as Betts and Ballast left the boat and waded through the rapids above the swamped boat, and to a grassy area at the bottom of the turn. "Are you all right? I can start a fire if you feel cold."

"Iím OK. It would be bad if I had been submerged, but Iím OK. I have dry clothes in my pack."

Seeing our difficulty, others in the party immediately came to our rescue--Ken and Kathleen Smith were paddling beside Richard and Anna Laueróafter they successfully came down the channel. They helped empty our swamped canoe and checked on Betts.

The plastic coffee cup, which I had for bail, was hopeless. Larry Taylor paddled back up to us and loaned us a gallon sized bailómuch more effective for the high volumes of water in our canoe. With a lot of sincerely appreciated help the swamped canoe was removed from the channel and moved to the bottom of the rapids.

We formulated a plan. Those of us who were already butt wet, the lead boat and the recuers, would help the remaining boats through the channel. Others would complete bailing out the swamped boat, and those who successfully cleared the channel would do a litter sweep in the immediate area, then the mighty flotilla would reform and continue with our mission.

The rescue was completed, the flotilla reformed, and the lead goose came back. We did collect the mostly empty trash bags swept from the boat in the swamping about a mile downstream, and filled them with trash and floating debris just before the take-out. All gear had been secured and nothing was lost, with the exception of some ego.

To all of those who participated, sponsored, organized, shuttled, and made this a productive and enjoyable day, thank you.

To all of those who rescued the crew of #UC 17 and bailed out the lead boat, thank you!

That is our lusty tale of adventure. I appreciated the spirit and company of Betts Shultz who never complained about being dumped, soaked, splashed, or swamped, only that we werenít collecting enough trash.

I look forward to seeing all of you again next year.

 

CONGRATULATIONS LEBANON COUNTY CONSERVATION DISTRICT ON 50 YEARS OF SERVICE TO THE COMMUNITY!

SRBC AWARD

On March 11, 1999, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission presented an Award of Merit to the Swatara Creek Watershed Association in recognition of its Outstanding Efforts to Protect the Water resources of the Swatara Creek Watershed through such actions as sponsoring water based recreation, encouraging innovative pollution prevention by industry, cleaning up existing water quality problems, and educating its citizenry on water resources values. Through these many and varied activities, the Swatara Creek Watershed Association has served the public interest and has advanced the purposes of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission.

ENVIRONMENTAL SUCCESS INDEX

SCWA also received word of an honorable mention from and listing in the National Environmental Councilís Renew America Success Index.

MARKETING THE WATERSHED

To help build team work and cooperation, SCWA has T shirts, fanny packs, umbrellas, and hats that will be used as incentives at our activities to promote the Swatara Creek Watershed and the Rivers Conservation Plan. So, if you show up to help clean up the canoe launch, or attend a future public meeting, you just may be lucky enough to receive a giftójust ask anyone who went on the canoe trip.

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March, 1999

Swatara State Park

bulletMay 21, 1998 the Susquehanna River Basin Commission passed resolution 98-09 in support of the Swatara State Park Dam Project which may also support public water supply in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania; and the SRBC Comprehensive Plan, Part II, Section II B-Program Areas, Objective and Goals Ė Water Supply, includes the following program objective: Fulfillment of immediate and projected long-range demands of the people of the basin for domestic, municipal, agricultural and industrial water supply, including use for cooling and irrigation.

 

SCWA 1999 Meeting Schedule

Unless posted otherwise, 9:30AM, Sallieís Place, Jonestown PA

January 27 July 28

February 24 August 25

March 31 September 29

April 28 October 27

May 26 November 23

June 30 December 29

Shane Michael Boltz, Myerstown, is going to work on his Eagle Scout project in Swatara State Park.

bulletMarch 11 SRBC Commission meeting at Lantern Lodge on Assessing Water Supply Needs for the Lower Susquehanna Subbasin. Panelists include Senator Chip Brightbill; Mr. Edward Keener, Lebanon Water Authority; Mr. Steve Seidl, PA American Water Company; and Jo Ellen Litz. Moderator will be Tom Embich.
bulletApril 22, Earth Day
bulletMay
bullet1 Canoe the Swattie
bullet15 Union Canal days
bullet22 Quittie Creek clean-up
bullet23 Lebanon County Conservation District 50th Anniversary
bulletNovember 10, Lebanon County Conservation District awards program at the Timbers in Mt. Gretna

Lebanon, Schuylkill, and Dauphin Counties1998 Issues Rankings

1  Water quality needs to be protected

2  Water quality impacts from intensive agriculture operations (i.e. CAOís, CAFOís, over-fertilization)

2  Inventory non-point pollution sources (i.e. Agricultural, storm water, industrial sites, quarry operations, and warehouses)

3 Continue Acid mine drainage abatement program

4  Protect & install riparian buffers along tributaries and Swatara Creek

5 Swatara State Park Dam completion supported

5 Flood controlóno building in flood plains

6 Foster environmental education

7 Water harvesting & diversions from watershed need assessed to protect water quality & future water availability.

8 Encourage environmental education in the region and at Swatara State Park

9 Develop a water quality monitoring program for the upper watershed

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