Biologists from the Stroud Water Research Center were wading through the waters of the Susquehanna, Aug. 25- 27, collecting samples of aquatic life that serve as a litmus test for determining river health.
The river survey, which is independently conducted for Procter and Gamble annually, is designed to determine what impact, if any, the P&G plant in Mehoopany has on the health of the Susquehanna.
Corey Susz, P&G’s environmental technician, oversees the annual testing, which has teams of Stroud biologists collect macroinvertebrates from three locations. Samples are taken upstream of the plant, downstream of the plant, and at Riverside Park in Tunkhannock.
John Jackson, a scientist at the Stroud Water Research Center, explained the strategic reasoning behind these locations.
“Biology is our monitoring tool when conducting these tests,” said Jackson. “We look for insects and macroinvertebrates that live in the river. Their presence or absence is an indication of river health.”
Populations of species like the mayfly and stonefly are sensitive to changes in water quality.
If the water is polluted or otherwise unconducive to aquatic life, these populations will drop, and biologists will recognize that drop, thereby alerting them to the fact that there is a problem.
Thankfully, Jackson reported that things in the river “looked very good.” Biologists identified healthy populations of macroinvertebrates that were months old, showing that the Susquehanna was able to support their growth.
Samples taken upstream of the P&G plant serve as a “reference condition” for biologists, for if aquatic life is bountiful upstream, but less so downstream, it would serve to indicate that P&G had an impact.
Again, Jackson reports that this is not the case. “Everything looked as we expected it to look,” he said. “Everything looks good, and this continues a long history of the plant not having a measurable negative impact on the river.”
P&G is committed to ensuring this remains the case, and has independently and voluntarily conducted water testing in the Susquehanna since the 1960s.
According to Jackson, “The long-term trend across various different sites shows that the river has become significantly cleaner since the 1970s.”
This is thanks to large scale effort by innumerable organizations and companies to reduce harmful discharge and pollutants into the Susquehanna.
Companies like P&G, which are proactive in making sure that there are no problems, help contribute to this trend by being good stewards of the river.
“P&G is incredibly conscientious,” Jackson added, “and they ask us [Stroud] to tell them how well they are doing year after year.”
Stroud and P&G have worked cooperatively doing water samples since 1974.
Specific results from the data collected won’t be available until the spring, but Jackson said he isn’t expecting any unpleasant surprises, and that the river looks healthy.