Saturday, February 27, 2010

Marcellus Threat to the River

If you care about the Delaware River – do something about it!

The Delaware River Basin Commission is considering the first permit applications for gas drilling (Stone Energy) in the Upper Delaware River Watershed.

This is a huge issue for the river and for the people who live within the Marcellus Shale formation. Drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus is going full-speed-ahead in PA in the absence of an adequate regulatory framework (state and federal regulations) and without an adequate state and local enforcement or monitoring presence.

Groundwater, drinking water, streams, forests, wetlands and aquatic life are threatened in part because of the successful efforts of an industry Dick to exempt natural gas drilling (and mountaintop mining for coal) from provisions of the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act.

Yes, that Dick, the former CEO of Halliburton and "We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators" VP for Bush II. Cheney's role in diminishing regulatory oversight is an amazing chapter in the saga of corporate pimping and congressional prostitution that has seized our government.

A good source of information on gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing is the website ProPublica.

If you care about the Delaware River please take the time to provide written comments directly to DRBC. You’ll find talking points and more information at the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

Email your comments by March 5 to:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Deep long winter…

I put out a contract on Punxsutawney Phil, although it may be too late to bother with groundhog stew with the predicted “monster storm” headed from the Gulf of Mexico to the Delaware River via the Atlantic Coast.

And just as I was thinking how fortunate that relatively little snow is on the ground in the upper portion of the river basin, we’re faced with a couple of feet of snow for Hancock, NY and the surrounding region.

The piedmont Delaware River will probably get six to twelve inches (on top of the remaining half-foot from prior storms).

The chances for flooding will almost certainly increase with this impending storm. Of course we could luck out and have an extended, mild and sunny thaw. Sunny and windy is what we expect of March.


Today the DRBC is holding a hearing on the first permit applications for gas drilling in the Upper Delaware Watershed. You can provide written comments directly to DRBC - check the Delaware Riverkeeper website for talking points.

Email your comments to:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Save Walpack Bend!

Take action to save the Walpack Bend section of the Delaware River from the electric utilities.

Please stand up for the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and one of the premier paddling and camping spots in our region by letting the National Park Service know you oppose PSE&G and PPL's proposed Susquehanna-Roseland Transmission Line Alternative Route B, which would seriously impair a portion of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (DWGNRA), particularly where it would cross the Delaware River, just below Walpack Bend. Send this along to your friends and fellow paddlers too!

This link will take you to a recent article that describes the different route alternatives.

This is not an easy issue in that advocating for or against a particular route (A, B, or C) just puts the thing in other folk's backyards. And after researching this issue I would argue that the expansions should not occur at all if one considers the bigger picture: increased generating capacity created by coal fired power plants, some of which would be using coal from mountaintop removal and more importantly, dubious and unsubstantiated claims that this is needed in the first place.

If you are interested in learning more about the issues behind this proposal visit this website. You can also watch a You Tube video that features a few township mayors in NJ. 

Please note there is an existing 85' power line crossing this part of the river, but it is relatively small and not very intrusive compared to what is being proposed.
The proposed expanded 500 kilovolt transmission lines would be 195 feet, more than double the size of the existing line. That would create an obscene intrusion for paddlers, hikers, fishermen, camper and tourists, as well as severely degrade the Park and the Delaware River.

The National Park Service (NPS) is conducting an environmental impact study to document the impact these power lines will have on the natural resources and "visitor experiences." NPS provides a summary of the proposed project here:

You can provide comments directly to the National Park Service here:

Please tell NPS how important it is to preserve the scenic beauty in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Let them know how much you value the quality paddling experience found in the Walpack Bend portion of the Delaware River. Urge the National Park Service to deny approval of the Right-of-way Permit for Route B and forbid its crossing through this National Park.

Deadline for comments is March 5, 2010.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Uh oh…

I was just thinking how fortunate it was that relatively little snow fell on the upland portions of the Delaware River watershed last weekend, until the most recent storm watch came through this morning.

If it comes to pass as predicted and eastern Pennsylvania is where the next storm converges and “explodes” then Philly will end up with three to four feet of snow on the ground and the rest of the watershed going north could have two to three feet.

Creeks and rivers in the lower watershed (Brandywine, Perkiomen, Rancocas, Assunpink, etc.) will face an extreme risk for flooding. The big rivers (Delaware, Lehigh, Schuylkill) will also be looking at a really dangerous situation if there is a rainstorm and rapid snow melt, coupled with the potential for ice jams.

Maybe this storm will miss us. And if it does hit perhaps we will enter a long dry warm-up that takes us safely into spring.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Compelling read…

Finally, I am reading the second edition of “DAMMING THE DELAWARE: The Rise and Fall of Tocks Island Dam.”

I have a signed copy from the author, Richard C. Albert, who wrote: “Best wishes to a fellow River Rat.” Dick passed away unexpectedly a few months ago.

I read the first edition about seventeen years ago when I just beginning to lay the foundation for my own knowledge base about the river.

This reading is being undertaken with a very different perspective. I’ve left off with the Sunfish Pond chapter, which tells the story of how close this jewel along the Appalachian Trail came to being bulldozed, expanded and pumped.

Damming the Delaware starts out with the earliest controversies (eighteenth century) right to the Tocks Island battle. If you’re interested in the river read it as soon as possible.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Six weeks until Spring…

February can bring brutal winter weather at a time when most of us are tiring of the cold. There is solace in the fact that whatever comes won’t stick around for long and the days are getting longer.

In a few weeks the migrating ducks will be hanging out in the Lower Delaware River, patiently waiting for the ice to melt up north.

One of the smallest of these migrants is the Bufflehead. Strange looking birds they are because their ‘buffalo heads’ seem somewhat oversized for their small bodies.

Take a trip up River Road in a few weeks and you’ll probably see buffleheads, hooded merganser and other early migrants. The stretch between Morrisville and New Hope is a prime area to look for the early harbingers of spring.