"The actual cause of these issues has not yet been determined or linked to any particular water quality issue, but DEP is dedicated to finding the answer through a disciplined scientific approach."
DEP's work in this area has been underway for some time. Last summer, agency staff spent 187 combined days on the river collecting hundreds of samples to characterize the water quality in the Susquehanna and its many tributaries. Samples collected included fish, macroinvertebrates, algae, chemistry and data on the river's dissolved oxygen, pH and temperature.
"Our scientists report that there does not appear to be any demonstrated cause and effect between water quality and the young-of-year die-offs, which, is contrary to what the Fish and Boat Commission has suggested is happening in tributaries outside of the Susquehanna, including the Delaware and Ohio river basins," Krancer said. "Within the Susquehanna River, this condition has appeared in a few tributaries and the impact is limited to smallmouth bass.
"Our scientists also tell me that no cause and effect can be established right now between water quality and the tumors and lesions found on adult bass. It is not at this point clear how prevalent the tumors and inter-sex conditions are throughout the river, nor if they are related to the young-of-year die-offs," Krancer said. "It is important to note that the Fish and Boat Commission has not reported any diseased young-of-year in the lower Susquehanna this past summer."We plan on keeping our efforts up," Krancer said. "We will continue sampling at 30 locations throughout the Susquehanna River basin to develop a very comprehensive set of data. We will continue to look at water quality issues facing the river, such as pesticide runoff; hormone-disrupting compounds and nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen."