Friday, June 25, 2010

Running Low…

Delaware River Sojurners at the Rieglesville boat ramp with Roebling Bridge in foreground.

A mid-week paddle trip between Phillipsburg and Riegelsville provided a much needed connection to the river and environs.

Highlights of the trip included a bald eagle sighting, a few osprey, blue heron, green heron and kingfishers. We didn’t see many boaters until the Raubsville lunch break where we encountered the seventy-some members of the annual Delaware River Sojourn. I visited with several members of that entourage, including members of the National Canoe Safety Patrol.

The other notable feature of the trip was the powerful wind gusts, which seemed to alternate between headwind and tailwind depending on the bend of the river.

The Delaware and its tributaries are down due to the lack of rain, which has come sparingly for most of us in the form of brief summer storms.

The Delaware is running at just over 3.50’ at the Riegelsville gage and that’s slightly below the median flow. The Lehigh @ Bethlehem is running several hundred cfs below the median. There isn’t much rain in the extended forecast so streams will continue to fall.

According to the Bucks County Herald the Delaware Canal will be filled with Lehigh River water (the usual source) on July 23. It’s been dry since a series of devastating floods destroyed several sections of the canal. It took over 3 years and several millions dollars to do all the repairs. One catastrophic flood is all it takes.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

More On Gas Drilling…

Stover Mill on the Delaware River

The Delaware River Basin Commission has decided to include “exploratory drilling” in its temporary ban on new permits for natural gas drilling within the 13,000 + square mile river basin, pending the development of regulations for the activity. Read about it here.

Meanwhile the PA legislature is getting closer to passing a severance tax on Marcellus Shale gas extraction, although the pols are still haggling over how to split up revenues from the tax.

Last week the FRAC Act was introduced in Congress to amend the Safe Drinking Water Act exemptions for drilling and to give the EPA authority over hydraulic fracturing. The bills would also require gas drillers to disclose their "proprietary" toxic chemicals used in the fracking process. Senator(s) Bob Casey (D-PA) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY introduced the bill in the Senate and a companion bill was introduced into the House by Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Diana DeJette and Jared Polis (both D's from Colorado, which is pockmarked by shale drilling operations). ProPublica maintains the most comprehensive coverage of the issue.

A good day of rain last Sunday perked up stream flows with the Delaware running a little higher than normal for this date. Most tributaries are running near or below the median flow.

We paddled the Frenchtown to Bulls Island stretch on Monday and had the river to ourselves until the last half mile when we ended up gagging on the stench of jetski exhaust.

Water quality appeared to be relatively poor, presumably due to polluted runoff from the recent rainstorm. The normally clear river was running brown from the sediment that was carried into it by its tributaries. Prior to the rain the water clarity was outstanding.

This could be the trend for this summer if extreme weather plagues us the way forecasters are predicting.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


The Upper Delaware River is America’s most endangered river according to American River’s list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers – 2010 Edition.

Read the report here.

The Upper Delaware made the list because of threats from Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling. I’m not sure how the Susquehanna River wasn’t included for the same reason.