The Susquehanna River is critical to the health and welfare of our families, our communities, and wildlife. The Susquehanna River flows from tributaries in New York state and western Pennsylvania to the Chesapeake Bay, supplying drinking water to more than 6 million Pennsylvanians.
Today, the Susquehanna River basin’s state parks and scenic rivers provide some of Pennsylvania’s most cherished places to swim, boat and fish some of the nation’s best smallmouth bass fisheries. However, the Susquehanna River’s beauty masks historic and ongoing pollution problems. Industrial contamination and the legacy of coal mining have contributed to the degradation of the watershed, and agricultural pollution, wastewater treatment and urban runoff have emerged as major threats to clean water in the basin.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been essential to efforts to clean up the Susquehanna River and restore the watershed to health – supporting and working with state and local efforts to keep pollution out of our waterways, hold polluters accountable, restore degraded waterways to health, and study and monitor the Susquehanna River basin to ensure its future health and safety.
That progress is now in jeopardy. The Trump administration has proposed deep and devastating cuts to the EPA’s budget. Even if the president’s proposed cuts are scaled back, they would still have profound, negative impacts on the agency’s ability to deter pollution from industrial facilities, agriculture, sewage treatment plants, runoff and other sources, while undercutting efforts to restore iconic bodies of water such as the Susquehanna River.
America should not go back to the way it used to be, when the Susquehanna River was used as a dumping ground for coal tar, metals, sewage and many other pollutants without recourse. We need a strong EPA with sufficient resources to support local cleanup efforts and to partner with states and communities to protect and restore the Susquehanna River Basin.
The Susquehanna River basin is being protected and restored to health with funding and effort from the EPA. The EPA has worked to:
Table ES-1. How Clean Water in the Susquehanna River Basin Depends on the EPA
|The Susquehanna River Basin Is Cleaner Because the EPA:||The EPA Continues to Protect Clean Water by:|
|Funded a local association’s efforts to clean up acid mine drainage in the Miller Run watershed in Huntingdon County||Supporting local partnerships that restore the health of the Susquehanna River basin’s waterways|
|Funded the restoration of Pierceville Run and the South Branch of Codorus Creek from the effects of agricultural runoff in York County||Funding restoration of streams and creeks across the region|
|Set limits on nutrient and sediment pollution to Chesapeake Bay from its tributaries, including the Susquehanna River||Enforcing pollution limits and encouraging best management practices in the Susquehanna River basin to clean up the Chesapeake Bay|
|Funded the development of a tool that helped protect the drinking water of New Oxford in Adams County from contamination during the Miller Chemical spill on Conewago Creek||Funding projects to prevent pollution and supervise public water systems|
|Ordered a Lancaster County farm to stop discharging manure and wastewater from an egg-laying and dairy farm to a tributary of Chiques Creek without a permit||Ensuring compliance with pollution standards to limit releases of nitrogen, phosphorus and pathogens to waterways|
|Reduced discharges of raw sewage into the Susquehanna River from municipal treatment plants||Ensuring compliance with planned infrastructure upgrades to limit releases of raw sewage|
|Supported research to understand the potential impacts of resource extraction in Susquehanna County and three other Pennsylvania counties on drinking water and newborns’ health||Supporting research into new pollution control methods and the effects of water pollution on human health|
The Trump administration’s proposed cuts to the EPA budget put these and other critical functions in danger – threatening the future health of the Susquehanna River.
Even if Congress makes some of these budget cuts less drastic, the Susquehanna River basin will still suffer without full funding of EPA programs.
Figure ES-1. Estimated EPA Grant Funding Losses to Pennsylvania if Trump Administration's Proposed Budget Is Enacted (Figure Shows Cuts to Selected Programs Based on Most Recent Year for Which Data Are Available)
Note: Estimates are calculated assuming EPA budget cuts affect states by the same percentage. Reductions are based on grants from most recent fiscal year. “Water pollution control grants” are Section 106 grants, slated for a 30 percent cut. “Nonpoint pollution control grants” are Section 319 grants, cut entirely in the administration’s proposed budget. “Drinking water protection and enforcement grants” are Public Water System Supervision grants, cut by 30 percent.
The job of cleaning up and protecting the Susquehanna River basin is not done. Continuing pollution from agriculture, industry and mining – along with the emergence of new pollution threats from new classes of industrial and household chemicals – call for continued vigilance and action. Only a well-funded EPA can continue the region’s legacy of progress in cleaning up the Susquehanna River basin and ensure that its streams and rivers are healthy and safe for us and future generations to enjoy.