Monday, March 30, 2009

Trickle of rain...

The region has seen one of the driest first three months of the year in 137 years of record keeping. It can turn around with a surge of precipitation in April and May, but if we do continue down this path the cry to keep reservoirs lower will be justifiably seen for what it is: a threat to the vast majority who choose not to live in the Delaware River floodplain and a threat to the river itself.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

'Braking' news...

EPA holds up hundreds of Mountaintop Mining Permits.

It's been about three months since Bush was sent home; not bad.

Here's another take on the Obama administration's actions by the Chairman of the Waterkeeper Alliance.

And these 88 new additions to the Wild and Scenic Rivers System as part of an Omnibus Bill passed by Congress.

Busy week protecting land and water.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Toh Trip...

Photos by Steve Miller

Joined an ad hoc group of 11 solo paddlers for the spring Tohickon Creek release and there were only three kayakers in the mix, which is an unusual ratio these days. It was a classic March day and the river was running just over 3.00 ft' or about twice the pre-release flow.

We didn't encounter any major strainers on the upper section and we only encountered a few other paddlers since the vast majority of the hundreds who paddled the Toh were there for the Class III section between Stover State Park and the Delaware River. We put in just below the Lake Nockamixon dam. This is a really pretty and fairly easy paddling section of the creek through classic Bucks County countryside.

Check out the Tohickon at Pipersville gage to observe the uber-undulating flow curve during the weekend release.

I didn't begin my drought buzz in this blog any too early (been buzzin' boudit' for a month now) as we're well on the way if we experience the below normal precipitation that has been predicted for our region over the next three months. NJ Fish & Wildlife is doing a record number of acres of controlled burning in the Pine Barrens and brush fire alerts are in effect for parts of Southeastern PA.

The DRBC Hydrologic Conditions Report says we're 2.00" below normal precip for the year in the Upper Delaware and 2.73" below normal between the Water Gap and and Trenton. That follows below normal precip for most of the previous fall and summer.

Of course it's also possible I'll be grilling crow for dinner if the Delaware River floods next month. But it's sure not trending that way. Indeed, so far this century we have had at least two mini-droughts that were ultimately broken by major flood events.

None of this bodes well for any of us.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Drought USA...

A great resource for drought information (next to DRBC) is this relatively new website. Delaware River tributary streams continue to be running well below normal for this time of year.

Tomorrow I'll be joining some folks for an early spring run down the Upper Tohickon Creek, thanks to the annual spring whitewater release from Lake Nockamixon. This is a Class I + beautiful Piedmont creek with scenery that alternates between Red Shale cliffs (with ferns and columbine) and pastoral landscapes complete with cows, sheep, and white-tail deer. There are also some wonderful historic structures along the way. The Tohickon features all the best cultural and natural qualities found in Bucks County, PA.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

How low can they go?

The last post mentioned how quickly the Delaware River rose last week, and it's still running near normal for this time of year.

Meanwhile most of the tributaries are barely running half the normal flow, which is not a good thing for paddlers and is not a good sign for people who depend on groundwater. Even the Lehigh River is running at late summer flow.

While we could end up having the wettest summer on record, a dry spring is frequently a harbinger of a drought. Time will tell.

Regardless, the Tohickon Creek will be running strong next weekend with hundreds of paddlers converging on Ralph Stover State Park for some of the best whitewater our region has to offer, thanks to the release from Lake Nockamixon.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Delaware River rises...

A spring freshet? The river shot up between six and seven feet depending on the gage in little over one day. A rain storm and break-up of ice with some snow melt put it up and it's coming back down again, gradually.

The water just has that late winter thaw look to it.

Meanwhile the smaller creeks and rivers below the Water Gap are low for this time of year. The Musconetcong River is only 180 CFS and the Tohickon Creek is around 123 CFS. The later will be ripping at around 300 CFS with the whitewater release scheduled for March 21 & 22.