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Susquehanna River tests show water cleaner despite emerging contaminants

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Water tests on the Susquehanna River show that it’s been getting cleaner over the last few years. The Department of Environmental Protection’s Secretary Chris Abruzzo said you get what you pay for. “Since 2011 the Commonwealth has invested upwards of 2.7 billion dollars in improving the water quality of the Susquehanna River,” said Abruzzo.

That money helps pay for upgrades to waste water treatment facilities as well as for studies that look at emerging contaminants such as human waste with traces of birth control and other medications. “There is no treatment for these pollutants. So the ability to monitor these pollutants is critical right now at a time when they could be increasing in the water and that`s what we`re trying to figure out right now,” said water pollution biologist Josh Lookenbill.

Biologists are out on the river at least once a week taking samples. When they aren’t on the water they rely on monitors which test the river every half hour. The DEP said it’s too soon to tell what kind of impact the emerging contaminants are having on the river, but they have noticed irregularities in the small mouth bass population, which they are also monitoring. Some of the fish have had black lesions on them and others have even shown signs of both sexes.

“Should any of the things we test for indicate high or abnormal levels it would lead to a whole series of further testing to pursue what might be causing those increased or anonymous levels,” said Abruzzo. It’s safe to say there’s no shortage of testing on the Susquehanna River.