Health, money, and traditional
values are at stake. Like many other limestone valley watersheds in
the eastern United States, the Spruce Creek Watershed is presently trying
to balance multiple ideals:
• Ensuring that agriculture remains productive
• Preserving a high quality of life for people living in the area
and controlling development
• Protecting natural resources.
What makes the Spruce
Creek Watershed possibly unique is the magnitude of what is at stake.
The watershed is one of the most productive dairy/cattle farming regions
of the State. The rapid growth of the State College area (Spring Creek
Watershed) has recently extended into this watershed and resulted in
changes to traditional lifestyles. Spruce Creek and Warriors Mark Run
are well known trout streams, having been fished regularly by a number
of presidents and touted by many regional and national publications
and authorities as a premier fishery. In recognition of the ecologic
and financial importance of streams with naturally reproducing trout
populations, the State has compiled a list of these waters. Wetlands
associated with these trout streams are given "exceptional value"
designation, with special protections afforded to them.
The quality of the fishery
is dependent upon maintaining stream water quality. And, that is not
necessarily happening; one branch of Warriors Mark Run is presently
listed as "not attaining" minimum stream water quality criteria
by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PaDEP).
Groundwater quality is marginal, and there is a distinct possibility
that much well water will no longer be potable if “status quo”
Additionally, as part
of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, there are huge economic incentives
to accurately assess and improve stream water quality over the next
three to five years through the Chesapeake Bay Agreement, a multi-state
effort to revitalize the environmental health and economy of the Bay.
If these tasks are not completed, there will likely be financial repercussions
for all residents of the State. Furthermore, the stream water quality
can be compared with USEPA recommended criteria, and meeting these criteria
may well prove financially, as well as ethically, wise.
At the request of watershed
residents, in 2002, Juniata College began a detailed study of water
quality and nutrient loading in the Spruce Creek and Warriors Mark Run
watersheds. This is the critical, often overlooked, first step to improving
water quality. Before anything can be "fixed"(or for that
matter, knowing whether it needs to be "fixed"), the problem
must be defined. Then solutions can be directed to the unique idiosyncrasies
of the specific problem.
Although initially funded
through Juniata College and gifts from local residents, this study has
subsequently received funding through the U.S. Department of the Interior
and the PaDEP’s Growing Greener program through a grant to the
Huntingdon County Conservation District.
For more information
on local water quality issues, watershed stream designations, and the
Chesapeake Bay Agreement, please follow the links below.
Bay Agreement Summary
Nutrient Criteria for Regional Rivers and Streams
Water Quality Standards (Chapter 93)
of Natural Reproducing Trout Streams in PA
Quality and Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL)