2002 Newsletters


December 2000


Jo Ellen Litz, president, Tom Embich, vice-president; Walt Haber, treasurer; Betty Conner, secretary

Board Members: Dick Blouch, Dan Koury, Ann Lasky, Craig Morgan & Chuck Wertz

Lifetime Members: Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Chuck & Charlotte Allwein, Wayne Anspach, Richard & June Blouch, Harvey Bomberger, Tom Bowman, Alvin H. Buck, Carmeuse, Edward Carney (Formed Metal Products), Bob Checkett, Drs. George & Betty Conner, Carl Donmoyer, Betty Eiceman, Tom Embich, Jay Felty, Jack Force, Walt & Barb Haber, Charles & Jean Henry, Barb Herschkowitz, Nancy Hoff, Bruce Kurtz, Ann & David Lasky, Lebanon County Bassmasters, Earl Leiby, FW Light Jr., Karen Light, Neil Light, Jo Ellen Litz, Richard D Moore, Heidi Neiswender, Northern Swatara Watershed Association, North Lebanon Lions Club, Lee D. Peiffer, Robert & Patricia Ponting, Victor & Jean Rohrer, Betty Shultz, Pete Silldorff, Gail Phelps Smith, Pine Grove Borough, Pine Grove Township, Schuylkill County Conservation District, Thomas Sherk, South Hanover Township, Irene Van Tassel, Ed & Bonnie Tenney, Union Canal Canoe Rentals, John B. Wengert, & John E & Marie Wengert


Can you remember doing the mile swim at Lake Stouffer, Camp Bashore Boy Scout Camp? Or do you remember learning to canoe at Camp Bashore? Whether a Boy or Girl Scout, generations of us have fond memories about this favorite swimming hole. Add to the memories, the life skills and fireplug for this rural community, and you have an indispensable local resource.

So, when an email came from Bashore board member Greta Rank, SCWA kicked into gear to lend a hand. Without actually draining the Lake, they needed photo documentation of the workability of the valve draining the Lake. No problem, scuba diving buddies Rick, Warren, and Jo Ellen brought their infra-red eye and hooked it to a video camera to show the grate was clear of debris, then filmed the easy opening and closing of the valve, as well as the discharge flowing, then stopping at the nearby stream. To do more would take a robot to walk sixty feet under the road of the dam breast through a three-foot diameter water-filled pipe. We’re waiting to hear if the authorities accept the documentation. We’ll keep you posted. Finally, special thanks to Dave Matterness, Robert Steele, Jim Rank, and Jim Schwalm for their shore support!


Thank you for your generous support of our work for more than a decade. We do a lot with a little money. We continue to grow because of your support. If you have a hard-to-buy-for person or just want to give the gift of water to a friend, or to help ensure clean water for your future, consider sending $10 for a one-year membership or $100 for a LIFETIME MEMBERSHIP to SCWA. To receive a complementary Mills and Bank Barns "coffee-table" book, please add $3 for postage and handling.


Among other things, our Rivers Conservation Plan helped us to realize the importance of active sub-watershed groups. For example, the Quittapahilla Creek Watershed Association (77.3 square miles covering the second largest tributary to the Swatara) is concentrated in Lebanon County. QCWA has planted 28,662’ of trees and has 30,000’ additional anticipated as well as installed 45,582’ of fencing with 14,000’ more anticipated.


bulletDavid Lasky, Chair,
bulletKyle Smith, Secretary, and
bulletAnn Lasky, Treasurer

Steering Committee:

Flynn Barnet, William Beck, Betty Conner, Eugene Graham, Stephanie Harmon, Ralph Heister, Ann Lasky, David Lasky Khervin Smith, Kyle Smith, & Donald Thomas.

Next Meeting: December 7th, 7PM, at the Conservation District, 2120 Cornwall Road. January meeting not set at press time.


Northern Swatara Watershed Association, is a group addressing acid mine drainage and other issues on 107.8 square miles including the Rausch, Panther, Middle, Black, Adams, Swope, Mill, Upper and Lower Little Swatara Creeks…in Schuylkill County. Because of their efforts at Rowe Tunnel, Donaldson, Newtown, Ravine, Stumps Run, and Westwood Energy, they site an increase of 24 new fish species—up from 0--in six years.

bulletKenneth Ninkovich, President
bulletCraig Morgan, VP
bulletRobert Evanchalk, Treasurer
bulletThomas Flannery, Secretary

Next meeting – January 31, Tremont Township Building, 7PM****************

Little Swatara Watershed Association encompasses 99.2 square miles in Berks & Lebanon Counties. Just formed, recently elected officers are:

bulletHarold Gruber , President
bulletBill Scampton, Vice President
bulletKatie Jay, Secretary/Treasurer

Board Members:

bulletChristine Williams
bulletFlynn Barnett
bulletBrian Bachman
bulletVictoria Minnich

Their next meeting will be held on January 16, 7PM, at the Mt. Aetna Fire Company off 501 north of Myerstown.

All of these groups and individuals deserve our sincere thanks for shepherding our local waters. After all, folks who live along the stream know its character, history, beauty, and geology the best. These people deserve an active role in shaping the future of the streams that flow through their back yards.


For "bonus points," municipalities can reference the Swatara Creek Watershed Conservation Plan on their grant applications with DEP and DCNR. To take advantage of this and other benefits, like a Geographic Information System disc (with data valued in the tens-of-thousands of dollars) and hard copy of the Plan ($203.18 value), if your municipality needs another copy of the sample resolution, please contact the Watershed office. Resolutions received from:


  1. Conewago Twp11/15/00
  2. Derry Twp 9/27/00
  3. East Hanover Twp12/00
  4. Hummelstown Boro. 11/15/00
  5. Lower Paxton Twp12/00
  6. Middletown Boro.11/15/00
  7. Royalton Boro.12/00
  8. South Hanover Twp 11/15/00
  9. Swatara Twp 9/27/00


  1. Annville Twp 11/15/00
  2. City of Lebanon 9/27/00
  3. Jonestown Boro. 11/15/00
  4. North Lebanon Twp 11/15/00
  5. Palmyra Boro 9/27/00
  6. South Annville Twp11/15/00
  7. South Lebanon Twp 11/15/00
  8. Swatara Twp11/15/00
  9. Union Twp 9/27/00
  10. West Lebanon 11/15/00


  1. Tulpehocken Twp11/15/00
  2. Upper Tulpehocken Twp 11/15


  1. Pine Grove Boro. 9/27/00
  2. Tremont Twp11/15/00


bullet12/7-8, Sediment Symposium, $89, by SRBC-- Hershey Lodge & Convention Center, Hershey
bullet12/13/ Greater Harrisburg Foundation grant workshop
bullet12/21 E Pa Abandoned Mine Reclamation grants
bullet12/27, Harper’s Tavern, SCWA meets at 9:30AM—Dutch treat, $3 each. Speaker: Karen Light on flora and fauna.
bullet1/5/01 Schuylkill Erosion Symposium
bullet2/23 DEP Summit of Watershed Monitors


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September 2000


In recent months, a public meeting was held in both Dauphin and Lebanon counties to review the Rivers Conservation Plan for the Swatara Watershed. Twelve written comments were received and reviewed. No substantive changes are necessary to the RCP. The comments/suggestions incorporated into the RCP will be reviewed at a final public meeting on September 20, 7PM in Pine Grove Boro Hall. In short, we’re near the end of a two-year planning process with Mackin Engineering. Input was sought from municipalities and the public. A special thank you to municipalities for your cooperative efforts by providing information on zoning, parks…. Currently, each municipality in the Watershed is asked to pass a resolution of support to obtain DCNR River Registry status which may give "extra points" to grant applications from cooperating municipalities who also have projects listed in the RCP. To that end, some projects/goals were generalized: increase recreational opportunities, identify areas of invasive species, storm water management, groundwater recharge, sewage plants and management, traffic, comprehensive plans. A CD and full color hard copy of the final document will be available for each municipality. In addition, a CD of Geographic Information System mapping layers is available for each municipality. Map layers were integrated from credible sources like Canaan Valley Institute, Fort Indiantown Gap, Conservation Districts, and The Susquehanna River Basin Commission. Some layers included are zoning, streams, wetlands, roads… SCWA is trying to add almost $20,000 in vector contours to this visual planning tool. The map layers can be used alone, added to an existIng GIS, or used as a base to add tax parcels, sewer lines, street lights….


It’s always amazing and uplifting to see how our friends and neighbors in the conservation field are willing to educate and share their knowledge and experience with us. The following response to a recent email is an example:

I've been told there are no known predators for zebra muscles. If someone is actively looking for a natural predator, I hope this gets to the right people.

It was like a thick carpet of razorblades. I say that because some of the divers on the trip with us didn't wear protective gloves. If they tried to steady themselves on the bottom or a shipwreck, they came up with cuts on their hands from zebra muscles. I was safe, because along with my flamingo socks, I wore my pink sports gloves with leather palms.

Looking around, there were fish--walleye and perch mostly. But there were very few plants in Lake Ontario. Visibility was about 40-50 feet. One of the last dives we did was near shore--in front of the Kingston prison. Swimming along, I felt a tug on by "flipper." Rick, my husband, got my attention. He pointed ahead to my right. Unbelievable. Because I didn't know an American eel from another type of eel, luckily I had my camera along. There is bound to be someone who can identify the species with certainty. Anyhow, Rick and I saw this eel chomp down on a mouthful of zebra muscles, then wriggle mightily until he pulled a mouthful loose. He either crushed the shells to extract the meat, or simply sucked the meet out of the shell, then spit the shell out. At close to five feet in length and four inches in diameter, to me, the eel didn't look undernourished. If this eel, not necessarily by choice, is a natural predator of zebra muscles, perhaps those with authority can do their own observations and tests to determine if these guys might be a possible "solution" to slowing the zebra muscle infestation in local waters. Jo Ellen

Judging from the…image, I can see a pectoral fin; thus it's an American eel. They are extensive predators, their diets consisting of a wide range of organisms. Eels are opportunistic feeders and very successful at this strategy.

The Driessenid mussels, the zebra and the quagga, are preyed upon by an increasing number of fish species in the Great Lakes and ducks are also known to feed on mussel beds and colonies. At this stage of their colonization throughout parts of the Great Lakes, even extensive predation upon their numbers is unlikely to reduce their densities and their productivity. Perhaps predation may become one of several other factors that may explain an eventual, hoped for decline in their populations.

Roger Kenyon , Lake Erie Research Unit , Division of Research, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Erie, PA.

I don't remember the name of those eels, but they were introduced into Lake Erie and they thrived. They invaded the rivers and streams leading into
Erie and eventually made their way into Lake Ontario. You _DO NOT_ want them in the local rivers and streams. When we did electroshocking to
census the fish population in the Erie watershed many years ago, most of the larger fish would either have these eels attached or they would have open wounds where the eels had attacked them. The eels can devastate the fish population. Dale

I am a biologist in the Office of Water, and a co-worker recently, forwarded me your email concerning eel's preying upon zebra mussels. I do not know for certain if the eel's normally feed on the mussels, but I have heard that another invasive species from the Baltics, a goby of some sort, was also transported in the bilge water of foreign ships. In normal predator/prey interactions, the prey species population (zebra mussel) will blossom followed by an exponential growth of the predator species (goby). This should lead to a decline in the mussel population. For better local information, you should contact Roger Thomas of the Ohio EPA in Cleveland, Ohio. Or feel free to drop me a line or call me at (202) 260-6228. I think the incredible clarity of the water that you described may be due to the mussel population. To say the least the invasion has been a mixed blessing. Chris Faulkner

Dale is…describing the Lampreys of the Great Lakes, not the American Eel. We have some American Eels in the Swatara and the rest of the Susquehanna River drainage as a result of the fish ladders/elevators on the Lower Susquehanna River Power dams which are providing the shad passage, along with eels and a few other migratory species. After all, if we want to restore the Swatara to its former state, the eels were there in great abundance.

Tom Embich

As described in the first reply, the photograph clearly shows an adult American Eel, a predator native to the Swatara Creek (hence the stream name). The second reply mistook these native fishes for Lamprey Eel, a non-native parasite. American eels reproduce in salt water in the Sargasso Sea (mid Atlantic). Eventually, after following the Gulf Stream clockwise from Europe, the young eels, 3-4 inches in length, return to the freshwater origin of their parents to mature. The mature eels can reach 3-4 feet in length. They are
a valuable food species, highly prized by European and Asian markets for their white, succulent flesh. The eels can be caught on live bait such as minnows, commonly at night, or they can be caught in traps as they migrate…. Chuck Cravotta, dreaming of his younger days as an avid recreational fisherman

The Lamprey eel is the eel (referred to in the second reply). Stephen Vegoe

As a follow-up, I never saw an American eel before in my life, but on a visit the following week to the Conowingo Dam, a fisherman showed me a one-foot American eel he caught on his line. In closing, thank you to everyone who took the time to respond.


Including matching funds, SCWA submitted over one million dollars worth of Growing Greener grant applications to DEP for: Water Trail signs, $13,770; GIS contours, $19,854; a Quittie Watershed assessment, $413,755; Wenger Feeds, $510,750; and a Streamlynx system that would put our GIS map layers onto a web page $44,952.


The single largest tributary to the Swatara is the Little Swatara—77 square miles. On August 28, an inagural meeting was held, and assets, projects, and issues were identified by stakeholders in attendance. Corporate farms, educational needs of water value, and water mining/harvesting, consumptive use were the top three issues. The next meeting will be held September 25, 7PM at the Mt Aetna Fire Hall. Pamela Spayd, Stephanie Harmon and Flynn Barnett will address the group. Plans to nominate and elect officers will take place, probably at the following meeting.


bullet9/20 Final Rivers Conservation Plan public meeting, 7PM, Pine Grove Borough Hall, Schuylkill County. Take exit 31 off of Interstate 81.
bullet9/21 DCNR Grants Workshop Harrisburg Holiday West, 5401 Carlisle Pike Mechanicsburg, fee waived.
bullet9/25, 7PM at the Mt Aetna Fire Hall. Little Swatara meeting
bullet9/27 Next SCWA Meeting, Harper’s Tavern, Route 934 & old 22, Annville PA. $3 Dutch Treat covers coffee, juice, and Danish. Charles Cravotta and Dan Koury will speak on stream flow, metals, and suspended sediment.
bullet10/25 SCWA Meeting, Tom Embich will speak on SRBC Sediment Task Force
bulletSediment Symposium, 12/7-8, $89, by SRBC-- Hershey Lodge & Convention Center, Hershey PA


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JUNE 2000

ARCVIEW GIS Grant Mapping Information can be found at http://www.dep.state.pa.us/external_gis/gis_home.htm

Little Swatara Creek

SCWA received a DEP Growing Greener Grant to help a Little Swatara Creek Watershed Association get started.

Mills and Bank Barns book

As an incentive for a $10 membership and to all paid up year 2000 SCWA members, including $100 lifetime members, each membership is entitled to a Mills and Bank Barns Book that can be picked up at a membership meeting or headquarters. To have the book mailed, in addition to the membership fee, there is a $3 charge for postage and handling. We owe a special thanks to the Ressler Mill Foundation for the grant that made this book possible. You can find out about weirs, privileges, and races as well as how mills were powered. Learn about grist, corn meal, feed, flour, and sawmills as well as powder, clover, shingle, cider and linseed mills. A new appreciation for the folk art exhibited in our local Bank Barns is also special: forebays, snowbirds, hex signs, threshing floors, silos, beams, sheath of wheat vents, cupolas.

Park and Rec Department

SCWA sent a letter of support to the Lebanon County Commissioners in their efforts to establish a Park and Rec Department for the County of Lebanon.

Canoe the Swattie 2000

What a grand day on the Swattie Saturday, May 6, 2000. Before the first bridge, we saw a porta-potty in the Creek. We picked up tires, lawn chairs, bicycles, wire, bags, cans & bottles. Yes, The lead canoe tipped at least twice, and people kidded about putting more refuse into the Swattie than was taken out. But lots of other people tipped too--many on purpose. It was 90 degrees out there. You could see seniors (the oldest was 75), families, and boy scouts from Troop 50. (Pictures are posted on the SCWA website.)

We saw schools of fish racing along side our canoes. There were mallards, geese, Baltimore oriels, white egrets, and great blue heron. Near the end,
planes flew across the Creek, and you could see the TMI towers.

Thank you to everyone who made this day possible. It really took a team effort.
Our Sponsors included: AES Ironwood, Bayer, Dauphin County Parks and Recreation, Hershey Foods, Hummelstown Borough, Izaak Walton League of Lebanon, League of Women Voters of Lebanon, Lebanon Conservation District, Lebanon Valley Scuba Club, Lebanon Water Authority, Lower Swatara Fire Company, Mackin Engineering, Middletown Rescue #58 Fire Company, PA American Water Company, Performance Partners, Ron's Beer Depot, Simon S. Kettering,
Susquehanna River Basin Commission, Swatara Creek Watershed Association, Union Canal Canoe Rentals, and Wengert's Dairy.

Individuals: Each and everyone who canoed and picked up litter and everyone who helped with shore support--Ed Chubb at registration and on shuttle duty;
Betty and George Conner who shuttled drivers; Tom Embich who helped portage canoes; Randy Malstrom who helped launch the canoes from the water's edge; Jack Stouffer who ran the food car and trash trailer; Eugene Tripp who organized a multitude of volunteers from numerous fire companies to provide transports at bridges and to mark the Vine St/ Swatara Drive dam; and Bill Wise from Union Canal Canoe Rentals. All total, about 125 volunteers were
involved in the day’s activities.

See you next year--first Saturday in May!!! Mark your calendars.

ALCOA & Greater Harrisburg Foundation

Special thanks to both the Alcoa Foundation for a $1000 grant and the Greater Harrisburg Foundation for a $2500 grant!

Water Trail

Copies of the Swatara Water Trail map should be available the end of June. SCWA provided the data while the DCNR, Penn DOT, and PA Fish and Boat Commission are providing the grant money for GIS work, printing, and two signs. But the project would not be possible without the cooperation of landowners and municipalities along the Swatara: Scotto’s Italian Restaurant; Union Canal Canoe Rentals; Hummelstown Borough; and Derry, South Hanover, and Lower Swatara Townships. Thank you very much!

Brook Lenker is working on a program to activate neighborhoods in the Swatara Watershed. Brook is employed by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, but his family started Lenker Brook Farms in the Watershed.

Mike Steiner’s DEP Environmental Futures Team

Put together a pilot study on the Swatara Watershed. While the entire document is around 100 pages, here’s and executive summary for your review:

By Jo Ellen Litz 5/22/2000 Complete report at Watershed Office

1) There are 905 total stream miles in the Swatara Watershed. 339 miles or 37% of steam miles are impaired.

There are four district ground water basins located within the Swatara Creek watershed:

  1. #159 in Pine Grove
  2. #160 in Bethel
  3. #161 in Lebanon
  4. #162 in Hershey

There are approximately 100 permitted public water supplies located in the watershed.

2) Thirty-two community water systems utilizing groundwater are located in the Swatara Creek Watershed. By sampling from active wells instead of monitoring wells, you circumvent the need to purge the well. This would assist in reducing the time spent on this project. It may be prudent to attempt to map the known areas of contamination in conjunction with this indicator. If the areas of known contamination were mapped with the 135 designated sampling points, information would be available on potential sources when contamination is observed in a designated sampling point.

3) In the Swatara Creek watershed, pumping of quarries actually maintains streamflow. In the Carmeuse (Annville) and Pennsy Supply (Fontana) quarries, small tributaries could go dry in a severe drought if the quarry were to stop pumping.

5) Presently, the only criteria air pollutant found in the Swatara Creek watershed that does not meet National Ambient Air Quality Standards is ozone. Only one site in the Commonwealth’s network, Hershey, is located within the Watershed. In 1998, the ozone standard was exceeded in Hershey on 9 days using an 8-hour standard. In 1999, the ozone standard was exceeded in Hershey on 15 days during the 8-hour standard. However, it is believed that transport of air emissions into the Swatara Watershed may be a greater contributor to the ozone standard being exceeded.

  1. Species diversity is the variety of organisms within the watershed. Ecosystem diversity is the variety of habitats, communities and ecological processes in the Watershed. Genetic diversity is the total genetic information contained in the genes of the biota. One tool for establishing the baseline is a bioblitz involving counting as many species from as many taxonomic groups as possible within a defined geographic area during a 24-hour period. Another is the GAP analysis using geographic information systems to identify gaps in diversity for a watershed.
  2. The PA Game commission has statutory authority for birds and mammals; the PA Fish and Boat Commission for amphibians, reptiles, fishes and aquatic organisms; and the DCNR for native wild plants. Some species also are federally classified and protected by the US Fish & Wildlife Service.
  3. Recycling Goal 35%
    County 1996 tons recycled 1997 tons recycled 1998 tons recycled 1999 tons recycled
    Dauphin 22,307.9/22.89% 23,260.7/23.87% 26,221.2/26.91% 26,458.68/27.15%
    Lebanon 18,250.098/18.7% 15,214.5/17.36% 19,506.18/20.03%  
    Berks—estimated 2320.8 2320.8 2320.8 2320.8/30%
    Schuylkill 916.02/7.63% 892.57/7.43% 1261.67/10.51% 1295.43/10.79%

    Lebanon County is the only County in the watershed in which the municipal waste is flow controlled, meaning the generation and recycling rates are based on real numbers, not just approximate calculations. According to a recent update in the RT Review, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on January 16, 2000, that "after years of rapid growth, the nation’s recycling program appears to be leveling off."

    Approximately 2% of Pennsylvania’s waste, (excluding wastewater) produced annually is of a hazardous nature.

    Hazardous 2%, .75 million tons Municipal 19%, 9.2 million tons Residual, 79%, 37.9 million tons

    Air quality

  4. Natural pollution includes: wind-blown dust; volcanic ash and gases; Ozone from lightning and the ozone layer; esters and terpenes from

vegetation; smoke, gases and flyash from forest fires; pollens and other aeroallergens, gases and odors from natural decomposition; and natural radioactivity.

Air pollutants in the US pour out from over 100 million vehicles, from the refuse of over 200 million people, from the generation of billions of kilowatts of electricity, and from the unnumerable products demanded by everyday living. Comparisons of Particulate matter, Sulfur Dioxide, Nitrogen Dioxide, Volatile organic compounds, Carbon Monoxide, and Lead follow:











































Highway vehicle and off-highway vehicles (trains, tractors, construction vehicles…) generate over 50% of the NO2 in the South-central region. Most vehicle emissions are most likely generated in the morning (7AM-9AM) and evening (4PM-6PM), during heavy traffic hours going to and from work. Of most concern is the heavier emissions generated during the morning, as these emissions would be prime for reacting in the sunlight with VOC emissions to form ozone.

The SO2 or NO2 emissions can remain aloft for several days. The longer the time aloft, the greater the quantity of SO2 and NO2 transformed into acid or acid particles. Weather systems can transport SO2, NO2, and their transformation products, sulfates and nitrates, hundreds or even thousands of miles across watershed, county, state and country boundaries. As a result, pollutants are transported from outside the Swatara Creek watershed into it.

The 1998-pH profile for Pennsylvania indicates that pollutants entering the Swatara Creek watershed accounting for the low pH (high acid deposition) appears to be originating from the south (Maryland) and west (Western Pennsylvania).

The Toxic Release Inventory tracks releases of toxins to air, water, and land from industrial facilities. Accordingly, this indicator may prove to be useful in determining where heavily industrialized areas are located within a watershed or other identified region. Such information may be useful in identifying the areas in which Brownfield development should be promoted.

Indoor air pollutants are gases or particles unintentionally released into the indoor air. Inadequate ventilation, high temperatures, and high humidity can increase the concentration of these contaminants. In addition, combinations of these pollutants can be more dangerous than each pollutant is individually (e.g. asbestos and smoking, radiation and smoking).

People may spend 90% of their time indoors. The most practical approach is to create an outdoor environment in the Swatara Creek watershed that induces residents to spend more time outdoors. The less time that a person is exposed to the indoor air pollution the less likely that person will suffer from its immediate and long-term effects.

Worker protection standards are set and enforced by the US Occupational and Health Agency (OSHA).

Pollutants released to water

Within the Swatara watershed, there are 83 facilities under an individual NPDES permit that can be classified as point sources.

Nonpoint sources of pollution from cropland and livestock, urban runoff, and storm sewers are the greatest water quality threat to the Nation’s surface waters. Other nonpoint sources of pollution to surface water include runoff from roads, construction sites, mining, and logging, drainage from waste disposal sites and landfills, and airborne pollutants that settle in the water.

Major sources of pollution to groundwater are septic systems, cesspools, or dry wells used to dispose of industrial and commercial wastewater. Leaking storage tanks, leaking pipes, and proper handling, storage and disposal of waste and chemicals at industrial facilities and landfills are additional sources of ground and surface water contamination.

Pollutants degrade water, impairing water quality for drinking, fishing, swimming and other uses. In addition to adverse impacts on the environment, pollution results in increased costs in providing safe drinking water and loss of important recreational areas.

Release to the land

The City of Lebanon Authority applied 404.4 tons in November 1999, to 26.5 acres of the Eisenhower farm.

Animal waste and fertilizers are not considered to be pollutants. These items would only become pollutants in the event of over application or emergency spills when the possibility exists that they could become present in the surface or ground water.

Sewage sludge is a potential source of pollution to the land.

There are 67 farms in the Swatara Watershed available to receive sewage sludge. Approximately 4,516 dry tons of sewage sludge was applied in the watershed in 1999. Approximately 2,564,950 gallons, or 109 DT of septage were applied in the Watershed in 1999. Therefore, 4,625 DT (biosolids) was applied in the Watershed in 1999.

1999 Nutrient Concentrations 203 Tons Nitrogen 89 Tons Phosphorous 16.6 Tons Potassium
1999 pound pollutant concentrations As


















While no one really tracks any pollutants to the land, the pollutant concentrations are well under EPA risk-based maximum limits. The concentrations listed above could have been applied to just 4 acres and still be considered "safe" by EPA.

  1. Public Drinking Water Supply systems
      # Systems Total # ground sources Total # surface sources # of ground in Watershed # of surface in Watershed
    Community 34 88 11 77 9
  2. Quantity of waste disposed in Watershed in tons per year for 1999
Greater Lebanon Refuse Authority 87,713
Pine Grove 356,751
Commonwealth Environmental Systems 423,965
TOTALS 877,529

Compared to waste generated in 1999

Dauphin 97,440 Lebanon 74,980.35 Berks 7,736 Schuylkill 12,008.5 Total 192,164.9 Tons

Landfills that are built or expanded on "Greenfields" destroy forests and open spaces and pose environmental risks.

Sewage sludge and septage is applied to land on seventy-eight farms and agricultural areas throughout the Watershed. Residual waste, in the form of paper sludge from pulp mills, was land applied to one mining site in Schuylkill County for reclamation purposes.

The City of Lebanon draws its water source from the Swatara Creek itself. In so doing, the plant takes sediment from the stream, which must be settled out as part of the treatment process. Much of this sediment from the stream, was originally deposited in the stream as a result of agricultural runoff, and is considered a serious environmental harm within the Watershed. After settling, the sediment sludge is then applied to agricultural areas, where it can be used ro replace lost topsoil and aid in the growth of crops. Because sludge from drinking water treatment plants contains very little in the way of contaminants, there is little risk of causing environmental harm via over-application.

In the Swatara Watershed, there are no hydroelectric dams and there are no nuclear power plants.

 14) Lives Lost, flood protection, mine safety

The highest fatalities in Anthracite mining were 708 in 1907. Fatalities dropped from 3 to 2 digit counts in 1949; from 2 to single digit counts in 1965. Fatalities dropped to 0 for the first time in 1982, then again in 84, 87, 92, 96, and 97.

The highest fatalities in Bituminous Coal mining were 806 in 1907. Fatalities rose from 2 to 3 digits in 1889 and dropped from 3 to 2 digits in 1949; from 2 to single digits in 1984; and 0 for the first time in 1998.

In 1996 there were 18 fatalities due to flooding. It was not determined if any of these were within the Swatara Watershed.

Major flooding, with possible fatalities and millions of dollars in damage, occur on the average once every 20 years.


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March 2000



President Jo Ellen Litz

VP Tom Embich

Secretary Betty Conner

Treasurer Walt Haber

Board: Dick Blouch, Dan Koury, Ann Lasky, Craig Morgan & Chuck Wertz


Betty Conner was the first recipient of the Susquehanna River Basin William W. Jeanes, Sr. Award for Environmental Excellence. Betty received the award on February 10 at the Commission meeting at the Radisson Penn Harris Hotel and Convention Center, Camp Hill. Among her many accomplishments, Betty's efforts on behalf of the Swatara Creek Watershed Association were recognized by the commissioners.

Meeting Schedule for 2000:

Meet @ Harper’s Tavern, 9:30AM
3/29 Gina Mason, Diane Wilson Water Quality Monitoring Training
4/26 Brian Bachman Concenetrated Animal Feeding Operations
5/31 John Wengert Rails to Trails
6/28 Water Works Canoe Launch Site Cleanup
7/26 Open - TBA
8/30 Craig Morgan, Dan Koury Adopt-a-Stream Project
9/27 Open-TBA
10/25 Tom Embich on SRBC Sediment Task Force
11/29 Open-TBA
12/27 Open - TBA


If your municipality or planning department is looking forward to receiving a free copy of Swatara Watershed Geographic Information System mapping layers, your computer will need the following specifications: 24 MB Ram memory; 80486 or higher Intel-based microprocessor; Windows 95 or higher; Windows 3.1 or higher; and of course the ARCVIEW Software which may be purchased with grant money. For planning purposes, you will be able to look at layers like zoning to compare your border with a neighboring municipality, soil types, wetlands and streams, and if we can get them, contours to tell which way the surface water is flowing. SCWA hopes to bring the finished disc to one of your municipal meetings where we will also request a letter of support for the Rivers Conservation Plan we’ve jointly been corresponding and cooperating on for the last couple of years.

CONTAMINATED WELL—from animal or human waste?

Contirbutions to this article by Gina Mason and Betty Conner

It is difficult to differentiate between human and animal waste. However the detergents that we humans use have a certain dye in them (optical brightners), which can indicate the presence of human sewage. There has been research on the use of optical brightner testing to identify malfunctioning
sewer systems. Contamination from manure can still be present or adding to a problem in addition to the sewage. An ugly seep or stream coming out of a feedlot might be an indicator.
**Test a well for total coliform. Only 1 makes the source unpotable or unusable for drinking purposes.
Bacteria are only indicator organisms that show pathways for surface or soil water to enter a well. When the test shows there’s a problem, you should embark on a well disinfection program called shocking. Have your well disinfected with a strong solution of chlorine. You can perform the chlorination yourself or contact a licensed well driller to disinfect it for you. Most properly constructed wells can be effectively disinfected. Until the
well has been chlorinated and the water is retested and safe to drink, either use bottled water for drinking and cooking or boil your water for at least three minutes at a full, rolling boil. Follow that with a retest. If the follow up test comes up contaminated again, contact a water treatment purveyor and install some sort of disinfection device. The Water Supply Program has literature on "shocking a well" and different types of disinfection units.
**DEP field and regional offices will analize a well sample for around $10 to $15 for each sample. Contact Pat Wike of DEP for the actual cost.
It is important that the sample is in a supplied container and transported immediately to the office on ice. Private labs will also supply bottles with instructions or actually come and sample the well themselves. Private wells should be tested at least once per year.

The Groundwater Surveys Act 537 generally
indicates that at any one time, about 1/4 to 1/3 of private residential wells in the municipalities which have done testing are unpotable. The probable culprit, according to the National Water Well Association, is a lack of a cement grout seal coupled with neglect.

Fecal coliform organisms are an "indicator" that there is a short circuit from a dirty surface to your well water supply. These organisms could come from human sewage or animal waste. It is possible that a source of contamination to your water supply is your family (e.g. through an inadequate sewage disposal system) even if you don’t suffer any ill effects. Visitors to your house may not fair as well after a drink of water. Visitors to your bathroom may contribute a new player in the mix and leave you the worse for wear.

If you live in a subdivision, the potential for disease transmission increases. The potential sources of pathogenic organisms increase as the number of neighbors increases. If you find an "indicator" organism in your well you should be concerned. You can take action to treat your water supply or you can take chances that the only thing getting into your well from the surface are harmless contaminants.

You may want to look at a DEP pamphlet called "Is Your Drinking Water Safe?" available on the web at

If memory serves me correctly, I believe the ratio 4/1 fecal coliform to fecal strep. indicates human, and 1/4 fecal coliform to fecal strep. indicates cattle. These ratios were determined by sampling a pipe from a cell block at a prison and a pipe carrying the prison's dairy manure. Both pipes used to establish the ratios lead to a stabilization or treatment pond. However, this is a generalized rule of thumb.
1. The ratio was established for humans versus cattle, not humans versus other mammals or birds. All animals will have a varying digestive tract fauna skewing the ratio in unknown ways. Differing proportions of animals could completely disturb any ratio.
2. There are many fecal strep bacteria, some of which thrive in the wild without a host. Some even are known to live in insect’s digestive tracts.
3. In a sense there can be a natural interference from bear, deer, raccoon…deposits.

4. Once the wastewater from a septic system enters the subsurface only to enter a well or emerge again as a malfunction, there is an unpredictable preferential die-off of both types of bacteria. Each and
every on-lot system and cow paddy can vary. The bacteria die due to all sorts of factors such as travel time, entrapment, temperature, predatory bacteria, dilution, UV sunlight, exposure to oxygen, and desiccation. There are probably a ton of other factors too.

You can test your drinking water annually for both Nitrates and Total Coliform. Coliform bacteria measures the sanitary protection of your well and water system. There are a variety of health risks associated with coliform bacteria but some of the diseases include diarrheas, dysentaries, salmonellosis, hepatitis and giardiasis. Nitrate is a common contaminant found in some wells. Health risks are
primarily to pregnant women and infants. Due to the acidity of an infants stomach, nitrate is converted to nitrite in the body. Nitrite displaces the oxygen on the hemoglobin molecule, leading to a condition called blue baby syndrome.

While out-of-state, with a Water Test Request Form, you can get a water sample bottle, collection directions and a postage paid return envelope. Once you receive the bottle, directions and envelope, collect the sample and place it in your mailbox. Test results will be mailed to you within 48 hours after sample is received at the laboratory. The charge for nitrate and total coliform test is $25.00. If you have any questions please send mail to lbwater@rea-alp.com. (I’d ask about refrigeration.) LB Water Testing Laboratory is certified by the Minnesota Department of Health to perform Nitrogen, Nitrates and Total Coliform Bacteria testing. The state of Minnesota Certification Program includes reciprocity agreements with the following states: North Dakota, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Certification # 027-041-349. Phone # 320-762-2229. Fax # 320-762-1846.

There are many different waterborne infectious diseases, but it would not be practical or cost efficient to check for every different bacteria so instead water is tested for a group of indicator bacteria, which measure the sanitary protection of the well and water system. This group of common bacteria is called the total coliform group. It is a good indicator for two
1. Coliform bacteria are everywhere on the surface of the ground, and usually don't occur deeper that a few feet into the soil. Coliform themselves don't cause disease, but if they show up in a water test, they
indicate that surface contamination has somehow gotten into the water and disease causing organisms could be present.

2. The second reason is that they are killed by disinfectant the same way that most disease organisms are killed. Therefore, if a well is chlorinated and there are no coliform bacteria chances are there are no disease causing

Coliform bacteria are widely distributed in the environment in soil, on plant, on animals and in very large numbers in the feces of warm blooded
animals. There are a variety of health risks. Symptoms vary, but nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, with or without fever are most common. Or, you may suffer from flu like symptoms.

Nitrate is a common contaminant found in some wells. Nitrate is a naturally occurring chemical made up of nitrogen and oxygen and is found in soil, water and plants. Much of the nitrates in our environment comes from decomposition of plants and animal wastes. Elevated nitrates in groundwater are caused by runoff from barnyards or feedlots, excessive use of fertilizers, or faulty septic systems.

Nitrogen from septic tanks and fertilizers is usually in the ammonia form (NH3). When ammonia mixes with the Oxygen (O2) in the air it is oxidized to
nitrate (NO3). Nitrates carry a negative charge and soil also has negative charge, therefore nitrate is repelled by the soil and easily transported to
ground water.

Health risks are primarily to pregnant women and infants.

Nitrate is tasteless and odorless and colorless. Therefore, you need to have your water tested by a certified laboratory, preferably once a year or
if you are planning to become pregnant or have an infant in your home. State regulations require new wells to be tested, then it's up to the
homeowner to have regular water tests.

Do not give nitrate contaminated water to infants. Do not boil your water to "treat" the water. Due to evaporation, boiling concentrates the nitrates. Use bottled water for drinking and cooking until nitrate source has been found and eliminated or a proper water treatment system has been installed and your water has been retested and found to be within the recommended guidelines for nitrates.



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