York Town Square

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Pennsylvania and water: The Susquehanna and other rivers run through it

This eagle sits on a stump in the Susquehanna River along Long Level Road in Lower Windsor Township in June 2007. Photographer Bil Bowden, who captured this picture, wrote that at least three nests were within a few miles of the area, and eagles – along with the sometimes confused osprey – can be seen here. (See additional photo below.) The river makes Pennsylvania one of the nation’s top water-rich states. Background posts: Susquehanna bridge makeover flowing along, Photographer tramps to far reaches of York County and American Indians’ carvings almost forgotten treasure.

Pennsylvania has more stream miles than any other state, except perhaps Alaska.
And no one knows how many miles are in Alaska, because they’re frozen… .

The length and breadth of Pennsylvania’s streams was part of the conversation during Pennsylvania State DEP Secretary Kathleen McGinty’s recent visit to the York Daily Record/Sunday News.
With all those stream miles, that means Pennsylvania has a bunch of bridges, levees, dams, roads and sewage treatment plants to maintain. On the plus side, fresh water, becoming more scarce with a growing U.S. population – is a resource that Pennsylvania can tout.
As Secretary McGinty says about Pennsylvania, the river, indeed, runs through it.
Anyway, here are some other stats passed on during that visit:

– Number of stream miles in Pennsylvania: 83,161.
– Percentage of U.S. fresh water touched by Pennsylvania (if you throw in Lake Erie): 80 percent.
– Number of DEP-regulated dams: 3,300.
– Number of those dams that are classified as high hazard – those that could threaten people or property downstream if breeched: 780.
– Number of those dams that are unsafe, high hazard structures in which engineers have reason to believe have structural problems: 61.
– Annual ranking of Pennsylvania economic damage because of flood events: 1st or near the top.
– Annual ranking of Pennsylvania in the generation of electricity: 2nd or 3rd (in the mix with Texas and Florida).
– Rough percentage of nitrogen or phosphorus pollution in Chesapeake Bay caused by Pennsylvania’s sewage treatment plants (point pollution):: 20 percent. (The Susquehanna River, flowing from Pennsylvania, is the bay’s largest tributary.)
– Rough percentage of nitrogen or phosphorus pollution in Chesapeake Bay caused by agricultural and other non-point sources: 80 percent.