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Chemical quality of surface water in the West Branch Susquehanna River basin, Pennsylvania

January 1, 1964

The West Branch Susquehanna River is 228 miles long and drains 6,913 square miles of mountainous area in central Pennsylvania. Much of this area is forestcovered wilderness, part of which is reserved as State game land. Wild animals, such as deer, bear, turkey and grouse, are sheltered there, and many streams contain trout and other game fish. This helps to make the region one of the best hunting and fishing areas in Pennsylvania. The Congress has approved Federal funds for the construction of several reservoirs to prevent flooding of the main river and several of its tributaries. Water stored behind the dams will not be withdrawn below a minimum level designated as conservation pools. These pools will be available for recreation. Several headwater streams, such as Clearfield, Moshannon, and at times Sinnemahoning Creek, that carry drainage from coal mines are acid and contain high concentrations of dissolved solids, especially sulfates. These streams acidify the West Branch Susquehanna River downstream as far as Jersey Shore. One of the most influential tributaries affecting the quality of the West Branch Susquehanna River after they merge is Bald Eagle Creek. Bald Eagle Creek enters the main river downstream from Lock Haven which is approximately 100 river miles from the river's source. Because of its alkaline properties, water of Bald Eagle Creek can neutralize acidic water. Many streams draining small areas and several draining large areas such as Pine Creek, Lycoming Creek, and Loyalsock Creek are clear nearly neutral water low in dissolved solids whose pH is about 7.0 most of the time. These streams have a diluting and neutralizing effect on the quality of the West Branch Susquehanna River, so that from Williamsport downstream the river water is rarely acid, and for most of the time it is of good chemical quality.

Publication Year 1964
Title Chemical quality of surface water in the West Branch Susquehanna River basin, Pennsylvania
DOI 10.3133/wsp1779C
Authors Edward F. McCarren
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Water Supply Paper
Series Number 1779
Index ID wsp1779C
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pennsylvania Water Science Center