Clean Water Institute Projects

The following is a list of the projects that the Clean Water Institute is currently working on:

1) Antes Creek

Antes Creek flows through both forested land and land used primarily for farming, in the Jersey Shore area of Northcentral Pennsylvania. The purpose of the recent Antes Creek study was to review the water quality of the creek using the EPA’s Rapid Bioassessment, Protocol III (Plafkin et al 1989 and Barbour et al 1999). In 2002, CWI interns performed habitat assessments along with macroinvertebrate identification. The Nippenose Valley Watershed Association has continued the monitoring of Antes Creek from the conclusion of the CWI study to present.

  • See data for this project.

2) Big Bear Creek Stream Restoration Project

The Fish and Wildlife Service, in cooperation with the Dunwoody - Big Bear Hunting and Fishing Club and other partners including DEP Growing Greener Grant and Lycoming College, has initiated a watershed restoration project on Big Bear Creek in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. This project proposes to stabilize and improve aquatic habitats throughout the 3.8 miles (6.13 km) of the main stem of Big Bear Creek. The stream is classified as a high quality cold water fishery, and has a long history of providing quality trout fishing. Detailed records document the quality of the fishery — primarily for native brook trout — for over 100 years. Since 1972, the stream has suffered from three natural floods and one human-caused event. Hurricanes Agnes and Eloise, and a January 19, 1996 flood were the natural events. All moved significant amounts of sediment and caused severe bank erosion and debris jams. In 1996, a dam on the headwaters was declared unsafe and removed, dumping 100 years of accumulated sediment into the channel. Stream clearing work by Plunketts Creek Township further contributed to the habitat degeneration.

This project is designed to control the ongoing bank erosion, reduce the sediment load and improve fish habitats. Natural channel design methods using the science of fluvial geomorphology are being used. Work on the project involves re-grading the channel to a stable configuration where necessary and employing a variety of rock and log vanes. In 1999, forty-two structures were installed on 4000 feet of stream with an additional 85 installed in 2000 and 2001. An intensive monitoring program to document water quality, macroinvertebrates and the fishery was initiated by Lycoming College prior to construction and will continue for five years.

Current CWI monetary support for this project is from: Susquehanna Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Canaan Valley Institute and Pennsylvania Delegation of Chesapeake Bay Commission.

  • See data for this project.

Big Bear Creek Honors Projects:

Jud Kratzer completed an honors project entitled The Effects of Trout Habitat Restoration and the Cessation of Stocking on Big Bear Creek in April of 2000, that examined the impact of Rosgen stream restoration structures on Big Bear Creek.
Kratzer Abstract

Geoffrey D. Smith completed an honors project called Colonization of Benthic Macroinvertebrates following construction of Fluvial Geomorphologic Structures in April of 2001. It focused on the impact of the Rosgen structures on the macroinvertebrates found in Big Bear creek following their construction.
Smith Abstract

Nathan T. Holmes completed an honors project entitled The Effects of Rosgen Style Trout Habitat Restoration on Trout Populations and Microhabitat Selection on Big Bear Creek in February of 2004. Holmes examined sediment flows through Big Bear creek and furthered the study of stream restoration impact on brown and brook trout populations.
Holmes Abstract

3) Black Hole Creek Survey

During the Summer of 2003, Clean Water Institute interns assessed the entire 8-mile stretch of Black Hole Creek in Lycoming County. In-stream chemical data was acquired twice throughout the summer. All instances of bank erosion along the creek were documented and photographed. Fish were also collected using electroshocking techniques at two sampling sites. The pollution tolerance of these fish was determined in order to complete an index of biotic integrity for the creek.

  • See data for this project.

4) Buffalo Creek

Clean Water Institute interns are currently working on the Buffalo Creek in Union County, PA. The interns are completing a physical stream assessment as well as chemical and macroinvertebrate evaluation. The main stem of the stream will be the focus of the physical survey along with macroinvertebrate identification, while chemical testing will be done both on the main stem and on the tributaries. Interns currently working on this stream are Laura Lockard and Brad Musser.

5) Limestone Run

The Biology 328 Aquatics class completed a fish survey in the fall of 2003. The class electroshocked a few sections of Limestone Run, recorded and studied the different fish species found in the stream.

  • See data for this project.

6) Loyalsock Creek Monitoring

In cooperation with the Loyalsock Creek Watershed Association, Clean Water Institute interns, Jim Rogers and Theresa Black surveyed the Loyalsock Creek during the summer of 2003. The survey included a physical study on the main stem of the Loyalsock including its major tributaries. The focus of the study was to take a snap shot of current stream conditions and also evaluate erosion potential for the creek in the future. Riparian evaluations along with invasive plant species identification were also included in the survey.

A coliform study was also completed on the Loyalsock Creek during the summer of 2003.

CWI interns continue to monitor ten stations in the watershed for water chemistry and macroinvertebrate diversity and density.

  • See data for this project.

7) Lycoming Creek Erosion Survey

The Lycoming Creek Watershed Association, under a grant from PADEP Growing Greener, is conducting a physical stream assessment dealing with stream stability, stream bank erosion, and repairing and analysis. CWI interns, during the summer of 2002, were using a GPS unit and a data collection form to document the location of each site, bank height, bank angle, density of roots, particle size, stream width, length of site, distance from erosion to a structure, type of structure, and the number of pictures taken of the site, if any.

  • See data for this project.

A current project on Lycoming Creek include physical, chemical, and macroinvertebrate assessments. Standard methods were used to perform the assessments. Physical aspects included measuring stream widths, flow, and depth which were used to calculate the volume of flow. The pH, alkalinity, conductivity, dissolved oxygen content, temperature, turbidity, and aluminum, iron, manganese, and silicon levels were determined for the chemical assessment. Macroinvertebrate studies consisted of collecting kick and surbar samples, surbars were only taken in the Lycoming Creek itself. Samples were than analyzed for quantity and or content.

8)Mahoning Creek Survey

In cooperation with Mahoning Creek Watershed Association, Clean Water Institute interns, Jennifer Clark and Will Tumbusch are currently surveying Mahoning Creek and its four main tributaries. The interns are evaluating current stream conditions and erosion potential for the creeks. Data on fish habitat, invertebrate populations, and water quality are being recorded. Riparian and habitat assessments are included in the survey. At the end of the project, a report will be prepared by summarizing the data gathered. It will serve as a starting point for possible projects in the future.

  • See data for this project

9) Merck/AAA Undergraduate Summer Research Grant

For each of the summers 2000, 2001 and 2002 two CWI interns were involved in a project to determine leaf decomposition rates using a fungal biomass chemical index (ergastro). Big Bear Creek and Mill Creek, in Lycoming County, served as field sites.

Merck/AAA Undergraduate Summer Research Grant Honors Projects

The following projects have been completed by CWI interns working under Merck grants.

Emily Stricker with the assistance of Megan Zimmerman completed an honors project entitled Leaf Processing in Streams and the Determination of Fungal Biomass via a Chemical Index with funding from Merck's Undergraduate Summer Research Grant. This study assessed two Northcentral stream's metabolism of leaves, by quantitatively studying Ergosterol levels found on Sugar Maple and River Birch leaves allowed to incubate in the streams. Ergosterol levels are indicators of fungus growth. Their results were compared to stream conditions along with chemical analysis from both streams.
Stricker Abstract

Chistina Panko worked under the Merck Undergraduate Summer Research Grant as well to complete the honor project entitled The Comparison of Leaf Processing Rates in Streams, Percent Organic Content, and Fungal Biomass in the Summer vs. Fall/Early Winter. With help from Samantha Keener, Panko developed new methods to determine processing rates, percent organic content and fungal biomass. The study was similar to the one mentioned above, with the exception that Pin Oak leaves were also used along with the Sugar Maple and River Birch leaves. Below is a link to the abstract for this project.
Panko Abstract

Anthony Sowers and Jen Clark continued the research by studying the metabolism of Sugar Maple and River Birch leaves in Big Bear Creek and Mill Creek. Sowers completed his honors project entitled The Determination of Leaf Processing Rates and Fungal Biomass Via a Chemical Index on this study. Below is a link to the abstract from Sowers' honors project.
Sowers Abstract

10) Muncy Creek Monitoring

During 2000, the Endless Mountains Resource Conservation Trust received a grant through the CHP program to conduct a Preliminary Assessment of the Muncy Creek watershed, extending from the headwaters to the confluence with the West branch of the Susquehanna River. In addition, the Muncy Creek Watershed Association, with funding provided by PADEP Growing Greener Grant, hired two CWI summer interns to perform a physical assessment of Muncy Creek. The interns documented sites of impairment from the headwaters of Muncy Creek, near Nordmont, to its confluence with the West Branch of the Susquehanna River. Using a GPS unit and a data collection form the interns documented the location of each site, bank height, bank angle, density of roots, particle size, stream width, length of site, distance from erosion to a structure, type of structure, and the number of pictures taken of the site, if any. In all, 175 sites of the stream bank erosion and gravel deposition were documented. Currently, CWI interns are involved in monitoring water chemistry, macroinvertebrates and fish along the main stem of Muncy Creek with particular emphasis in the area between Nordmont and Sonestown.

  • See data for this project.

11) Pine Creek River Conservation Plan

The CWI is a partner with Endless Mountains RC&D under a DCNR grant to develop a river conservation plan for the Pine Creek Watershed. This is a two-year project (2002-2004).

Currently Pine Creek Interns will perform a variety of tasks over the course of their internship in order to assist in the completion of the Pine Creek Watershed Conservation Plan. Several sites along the creek were established years ago when studies on Pine Creek were initiated. The interns have revisited these sites and collected water and macroinvertebrate samples. Water chemistry data has been recorded and compared to past data from the same locations. The interns have also compiled information from past studies dealing with water chemistry and macroinvertebrates. After the internship is completed, the interns will have assisted in reviewing and rewriting the Water Resources and Biological Resources sections of the Pine Creek Conservation Plan, along with recording their own data collected during the summer for comparison use in future studies.

  • See data for this project.
  • Pine Creek Watershed Conservation Plan - Final Draft

12) Rose Valley / Mill Creek Watershed Association

Purpose: To protect and perpetuate the Rose Valley/Mill Creek watershed by balancing the needs of the natural resources with the needs of the affected communities through:

  • Informing the general public and organizations about the natural resources of the
    watershed and the value of proper lake, stream, and watershed management.
  • Promoting local interest through public meetings and outreach and developing local
    partnerships for the benefit of the watershed.
  • Supporting existing environmental rules and regulations and recommending
    standards for land use and developments in the watershed.
  • Identifying specific problems and, in partnership with local, state, federal and
    private organizations, seeking solutions.

Contact Jerry Zeidler, president, at for more information.

13) Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition for Environmental Studies

The Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition for Environmental Studies (SRHCES) is a nascent watershed organization whose geographic focus is the entire Susquehanna River West Branch watershed in Pennsylvania. The West Branch Susquehanna watershed drains an area of approximately 4,466 million acres, just under 7,000 square miles. At present, SRHCES partners include representatives from six academic institutions (Bloomsburg University, Susquehanna University, Bucknell University, Lock Haven University, Kings College, and Lycoming College), the PA Department of Environmental Protection, the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, SEDA-COG, Forum-for-the-Future, and the Geisinger Health System.

SRHCES Mission:

  • Promote collaborative community-based research opportunities between local organizations and colleges and universities.
  • Create multi-disciplinary educational opportunities for undergraduates interested in the natural and cultural resources of the Susquehanna River.
  • Develop shared environmental education curriculums that would involve the partner colleges and universities.
  • Design and promote a Susquehanna River website to be used by the college and university partners, area K-12 teachers, and other community partners that would act as a resource fro current and historical educational and community-based research projects.
  • Design and implement K-12 teacher-training programs using local community-based organizations and colleges and universities.
  • Create a model for other states by creating a multi-institution and multi-disciplinary education collaboration that connects undergraduates attending institutions in the Lower Susquehanna region with local communities and environmental organizations.

SRHCES Projects:

SRHCES is currently initiating major projects on the Lower West Branch, which extends approximately 77 miles from Lock Haven to Sunbury, Pennsylvania. Major initiatives planned or underway include:

14) West Branch Susquehanna River Conservation Plan

CWI is partnered with the North central Pennsylvania Conservancy with their effort to develop a river conservation plan for the 75 miles of the lower West Branch Susquehanna River between Lock Haven and Sunbury. In addition, twelve monitoring sites for water chemistry have been established along this section of the river. Monthly monitoring is occurring.

More Information from the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy: