Aerial view of campus with Williamsport, the Susquehanna River and Bald Eagle Mountain as a backdrop

About the Clean Water Institute

Water is one of Pennsylvania's most precious resources. There are over 83.000 miles of streams, 4,000 lakes, 120 miles of coastal waters and 80 trillion gallons of ground water/aquifers in Pennsylvania. Maintaining the quality and quantity of this resource is critical to the economy and the survival of natural systems and habitats.

It has been noted that perhaps more than any other river, the Susquehanna is considered Pennsylvania's river. The Susquehanna basin encompasses more of the state's land area than any other basin - 20,960 square miles or 46% of the state. More than three-quarters of the entire basin lies in Pennsylvania. At Sunbury, the Susquehanna is joined by its largest tributary, the West Branch of the Susquehanna. Two major subs of the West Branch are Sub Basins 9 and 10, which include the Big Bend Watershed are from Lock Haven to Sunbury, PA. Included are watersheds of Pine, Lycoming, Loyalsock and Muncy Creeks. These sub basins also encompass much of Lycoming, Clinton, Union, Montour and Sullivan Counties and portions of Tioga, Bradford and Northumberland Counties. Total watershed area includes over 3,500 square miles. A Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) report in August 2001 indicated that water quality of only 26% of the total watersheds in the area had been assessed at that time. Causes of impairment included non-point source pollution attributed to agricultural and road runoff (greater than 75%).

The State of Pennsylvania, its Growing Greener initiative and most recently the Environmental Futures Planning Process, has identified Water Quality as a main agenda for the 21st Century and recognizes the importance and participation of local watershed groups to the improvement and maintenance of this resource. Over 50 active watershed groups exist in this Lower West Branch of the Susquehanna Basin.

The Clean Water Institute (CWI) has been developed to be a resource on water issues and to partner with watershed groups for education and protection of the water quality of the West Branch of the Susquehanna watershed.

CWI Established Through State Grant

The scenic banks of the Loyalsock Creek in Montoursville are the site of a Susquehanna River study by Lycoming College's Clean Water Institute. Funded by a $20,500 Growing Greener grant, this project brings a Pennsylvania community together to solve its environmental problems.

"This grant is making possible our study of 75 miles of the West Branch Susquehanna River and its major tributaries," said Mel Zimmerman, Lycoming College Biology Department Chair. "The data will be made available to the public and the institute will assist townships, watershed groups and others trying to obtain and interpret water-quality information."

This study will help set a baseline for the health of the watershed, and will be a useful tool to monitor the watershed's health in the future. The Institute will collect and assess historical water quality, bottom-dwelling aquatic insects and fish data from the lower West branch Susquehanna River as well as Pine, Lycoming, Loyalsock and Muncy creeks. Periodic reports will be issued and workshops conducted for the general public during the course of the two-year study.

Zimmerman envisions community involvement to identify areas along the river where opportunities for maintaining and improving the river exist. Taking advantage of the resources available, Zimmerman is working toward the restoration and protection of Pennsylvania's environment.

The project also compliments the efforts of the Northeast Pennsylvania Conservancy to develop a River Conservation Plan for a 75-mile segment of the lower West Branch. The plan will result in the identification of "special places" along the river, desired recreational activities, needed improvements and other opportunities for maintaining and improving the river.

During the first round of "Growing Greener" grants, DEP awarded nearly $5 million to watershed organizations, local governments and educational institutions in Northcentral Pennsylvania.

CWI Contributions Recognized by DEP Secretary David Hess

CWI students recognized by Secretary Hess.

CWI students recognized by Secretary Hess.