French Creek

French Creek in northwestern Pennsylvania is pictured, and has been named the official 2022 ‘River of the Year.’


Editor’s Note: This is a column on area watersheds by Blyden Potts and guest columnists to spread awareness of the area’s tributaries and the efforts of area volunteers to keep them clean.


Some water-related “flotsam and jetsam” that have been floating in the media recently: PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently announced funding for 13 watershed projects in southern Pennsylvania. One is floodplain restoration on the West Branch Conococheague in Franklin County. Another is stream bank stabilization of Tuscarora Creek in Huntingdon County.

Cumberland County Conservation District (CCCD) has showing dates to tour an installation of fish habitat structure on the Yellow Breeches, near Allenberry Resort, in process. Three of the four dates remain: February 11 and 25, and March 11. Contact Lori Glace, for more information or to RSVP.

The Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) has a Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Improvement Program (VPA-HIP) for stream landowners. They provide a one-time payment to landowners in exchange for an easement allowing habitat improvement and public fishing access. The amount paid depends on stream frontage and other factors.

In late December of 2021, Pennsylvania submitted an amended Phase III Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) to the U.S. EPA. The plan details how the state intends to close a 9.8 million pound “gap” in nitrogen runoff reductions it needs to meet Chesapeake Bay restoration commitments.

PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers (POWR) announced French Creek, in Erie, Crawford, Venango and Mercer counties, as the winning “2022 River of the Year.” French Creek is noted for its biodiversity, including a population of Hellbenders. French Creek Valley Conservancy (FCVC) will receive a $10,000 grant to fund activities related to river conservation and education activities for the year.

Online news magazines have recently posted stories about 1,4 Dioxane, a likely carcinogen, in the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers. It was initially detected in 2020 by a company that provides drinking water to several South Jersey counties. What makes it an ongoing story is that the Dioxane is apparently still going into the water. It seems regulations on this particular toxin are lacking, a gap some New Jersey citizens are working to fix. The situation calls attention to the difficulty of trying to regulate and monitor every possible threat our waterways could face.

DEP released a draft of their 2022 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring Report, for public comment.

Feedback will be accepted until March 1. They report 27,886 miles of impaired waterways statewide, up about 2,400 miles from the 2020 report. Most impairment comes from abandoned mine runoff (7,356 miles), agricultural runoff (6,430 miles) and stormwater runoff (3,502 miles). Cumberland County ranks 14th in percent of waterways impaired, with 61.6 percent (483 miles) of its streams impaired. Franklin County is 17th in percentage (54.7 percent), but has more miles (928) of impaired waterways. The report has an interactive viewer you can use to find impaired waterways near you. Learn more at:

There are often trees available, and volunteers to plant them, for stream landowners who might like a riparian buffer planted along their part of the stream. MSWA and local Watershed Stewards groups are also available to do stream cleanups, or other projects related to stream conservation and/or water runoff issues. Give us a call at: (717) 377-9638, or email: if you are in search of resources for a water project.

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