Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Fly Ash Spill...

Back in in August 2005 we suffered a coal ash slurry spill of about 100 million gallons from a breached lagoon at the PP&L Martins Creek power plant, located on the PA side of the Delaware River. It was horrible. The river turned gray all the way to the bay. The worst of the fly ash settled into the pools and eddies between Martins Creek and Sandts Eddy, only to be swept down to the bay and Atlantic Ocean by the three major floods that ocurred after the spill.

This toxic ash spill in the Emory River is about five times worse and is occurring in a smaller stream. It's truly sickening.

Wikipedia has this to say
about the Emory River, and it's quite a legacy.

The Knoxvillebiz.com says:

HARRIMAN — Emory River is impassable between mile markers 0.0 to 4.2 because of a mudslide from Monday’s breach of TVA’s Kingston steam plant ash retention pond.

The U.S. Coast Guard this afternoon advised all boaters that the debris is blocking the channel in Roane County.

“This creates a hazardous condition, and all boaters and maritime interests should not transit this area,” the Coast Guard said in a press release.

Monday, December 22, 2008

End of the Year...

A Chinese Mennonite Church? This unusual congregation is located on Broad Street between Tasker and Morris, South Philly - the land of cheesesteaks.

Good riddance 2008. Not that is was bad year - it wasn't. I had little to lose as far as investment and no mortgage to worry about.

How about you?

The rivers and creeks are falling despite all the precipitation, most of it being in the form of snow and ice. The ground is saturated and that will be frozen and locked in for what could become an impressive spring thaw.

Well then - Merry Christmas to all you Christians out there and hope Santa Claus brings you a new paddle or boat.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Waters cresting and falling...

Looking upriver from River Road in Yardley, PA - the Delaware River was in the road Friday night. Yardley is one of the most flood prone communities in the 13,000+ square mile watershed.

A few streams made it to flood stage, most notably my dear old friend the Perkiomen Creek rose to nearly 2 feet above the 11 foot flood. I once lived in a log cabin in the heart of that creek's flood plain and eye-witnessed the 6th all time flood. The Perky flows to the Schuylkill River right through the heart of the Triassic Shale country.

In the Pocono Mountains the Lackawaxen is still rising and the Brodhead came out of its banks. On the New Jersey side none of the Delaware River tribs above Trenton were particularly high. Below Trenton the Crosswicks and North Branch Rancocas are running high and still rising. The Musconetcong only came up to 3 feetplus, but the limestone watershed is nicely recharged so it should stay up for some time.

On the Delaware River the gage at Belvidere is just at 11 ft. or about halfway to flood stage, but showing sides of ebbing.

However, the Riegelsville gage is just over 15 ft and rising towards the dreaded 22 ft stage. Normally these two river gages read roughly the same in terms of height, so clearly the big difference is the Lehigh River which comes in between, and the Lehigh is cranking out the CFS at Bethlehem. The Lehigh is still rising and some of its tribs like Jordan Creek in Allentown are continuing to rise. That means the Delaware below Easton has a ways to go before falling and it will likely approach bank full.

The Tohickon Creek was absolutely ripping at nearly 7 feet early this morning. We paddled the creek at 2.48 ft. a week ago or so and it's a challenge to think of it being nearly 5 feet above that.

Like I said - it looks like we'll have a great paddling winter and spring in terms of water levels. The groundwater will have a chance to recharge before the ground freezes over. All that is needed are a bunch of mild days above 40 deg.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Waters on the rise...

An active Flood Watch Advisory is on for all but the largest rivers due to predicted 2-3 inches of rain. Right now many of the direct tribs to the lower Delaware River are running at or slightly below normal. The Musconetcong at Bloomsbury is running at 1.94 ft. (223 CFS) and the Tohickon Creek at Pipersville is right at normal flow. On the other hand, further up the watershed the Flatbrook at Flatbrookville is well above normal, so they're received more precip in extreme northwest NJ.

Then too some of the higher elevations may be having significant snow melt and that could explain the huge spike on the big Pocono stream. Brodhead Creek at Minisink has risen a foot this afternoon. PP&L is releasing water from Lake Wallenpaupack as evidenced by the big spikes on the Lackawaxen River.

The most important influence for those of us who live along the Delaware River below Easton is the Lehigh River and it's at a normal level (2280 CFS). The ground is wet, perhaps not quite saturated but that won't take too long. If 3 inches of rain falls in the Poconos and Catskills the Lehigh and Schuylkill and even the
Delaware could all rise to near bank full.

I seems likely that many of the creeks and smaller rivers will flood. This will be a good paddling winter. Hopefully there won't be too much water. This river valley has had enough.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Subverting the EPA...

Brunner Island in the Susquehanna River, where they burn a few hundred thousand tons of coal each week.

The Inquirer had one of the nation's very best investigative reporting departments, as recently as twenty years ago. These days the 'Inky' does investigative journalism maybe once in a blue moon. Must be a blue moon on the horizon.

Smoke and Mirrors is a four part series about how Bush subverted the EPA. It's long but it is worth the time. Check it out.

Most people assume the Bushmen were just terribly incompetent and that was often the case. But they set out from the very start to subvert all aspects of government at every possible level. Much of what passed for ordinary incompetence was intentional and cleverly designed to produce chaos, disaster, fear, and mayhem -- conditions which in turn allowed the Bush Crowd to fleece every last one of us and leave our republic in ruins. That remains the goal of many conservatives of the Grover Norquist school who want to "reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." The 'shrink the government' crowd also brought us "Disaster capitalism" and it will take more than a generation to clean up the mess.

Unspoken in that "drown it in the bathtub" credo is that conservatives really want to drown you and me in the bathtub; that's if you still believe in the quaint "government of the people, by the people, and for the people." Lincoln's famous line from the Gettysburg Address sounds positively socialist today.

Iraq, Katrina, the economic meltdown and the constitutional crisis all have that common thread as the handiwork of our venal, greedy, devious rulers. Hey - they're burning the midnight oil to do all the damage they can as you read this - it ain't over yet. Hope may be on the horizon, but dastardly deeds are still being done and will be committed right up until midnight on January 19, and beyond if you consider all the land mines that are being planted for 'O'.
What's this got to do with rivers you ask? Everything has to do with rivers.
The aforementioned series includes an article ("EPA Court follies") that tells a story about federal air quality regs and how the Bushmen craftily gamed the system to the detriment of the entire planet and all whom dwell therein. It cites the specific point that led Christy Whitman to resign. It's difficult for me to feel any sympathy for her despite our special relationship while she served as governor. That's a story for another post that will be told if someone will volunteer to digitize my special videotape and convert it to a ewetube thingy.

Some folks are itching to go canoeing with all the rain coming this week. It's a crazy weather pattern coming up and I have a feeling the creeks and rivers will be running high this coming winter so as to allow maximum opportunities to grab a paddle when the mild day presents itself. Not many days left in 2008, but hoping to carve the water with the paddle at least once more before the year expires. SYOTW!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Back to "Church"...

Shooting a pic with the cell phone while paddling one-handed is always a thrill.

'Spin awhile since I've visited a place of worship, so to speak. Getting out on the water is my idea of a spiritual experience.

The Tohickon Creek is a lovely stream, even at 2.50 ft. and 300 CFS. Red shale cliffs, deep woods, colonial era barns, mills and houses and mostly swift moving water make this one of my favorite paddling destinations.

Chris Meyers and I did the 8-mile run in 2.5 hours including lunch break. We both enjoyed the creek at this level, not as pushy as it can be during the official dam releases.

The weather will turn sharply colder and I'll be hanging up the canoe paddles for a while, or until we get another spate of 40 degree plus weather.

Monday, December 01, 2008


So much rain and so little impact. The Musconetcong only rose about 5 inches and is already dropping.

The thirsty watershed sucked most of the precipitation down into the ground so the level may hold steady above 1.90 once the springs begin to percolate. Or I could just be kidding myself once again.

The Warren Reporter ran a nice story about the restoration project along the Musky Trout Hatchery property. Follow this link.