The Susquehanna paddle and its “polluting”

Today was the start to our second journey and what a better way to start it off with a relaxing paddle down the great Susquehanna river. I’ve driven by the Susquehanna once before about four years ago when I was looking at school to apply to and it caught my attention. What a beautiful river it was with all the rocks and ripples plus, the mountains in the background. A really unbelievable sight. This was why I was really looking forward to this paddle today because I didn’t have any back ground information on the river until the Chesapeake semester. Let alone, I had no idea it was the main water source to the bay.

While on the paddle, we were told to make an observation about the location. We had started right where the first appellation mountain begins and the river literally cut the mountain in half creating a valley. The reason why the river formed where it is is because of the rocks not eroding away. This is why we did not see any cut banks or point bars. It was a strait shot. Another observation was looking in the water. The waters visibility was crystal clear, which is not a surprise because it is all rain water. That being said, we could see all the sediments on the bottom. There were large river stones and larger peaces of gravely or peddles but, not sand. There was no sand anywhere along the river because it was not slow enough for the sand to deposit on the bottom. That being said, larger stones in the river that were closer to the surface of the water were smoother at the top. All the sand that is being brought down the river is sand blasting the larger rocks. This again shows the power of the river and its capability of re shaping rocks into river stones.

Especially during the rainy seasons, the water velocity it extremely high and can carry many different kinds of materials. Materials such as bowling balls, chairs, and tires. For a bowling ball to be cared down a river, it would have needed some serious velocity cause the ball we found weighed12lbs. Where we found this ball was on a little beach on the edge of the river. There, we observed the last time the river could have possibly flooded. Steve was the owner of canoe company that took us down the river. He said the last flooding they had was back in July during an abnormally high amount of rain in the season. The water rose about 6 feet which was no surprise to any of the locals. Coming from the Jersey Shore, 6 feet is a lot however, for the water to rise because of how close we are to the water line. If my river were to go above high tide by 1 foot, our property would flood. We never liked rain on a windy day at high tide… Especially at 2 I’m the morning!

After finding the bowling ball, Dr. Levin took us on a walk to show us how to observe that there was a flooding recently like Steve said. We found a pile of bushes and observed. On the side of the bush where the water would have been coming from, there was a large amount of sediment deposit. This was because of all the runoff carried off by the velocity of the water and once it hit the bushes, it slowed the velocity down enough so the sediment could drop. We noticed this across the entire island. We could also see where the water line was running because of all the bare spots on the trees. This was from the force of the water snapping the branch off and carrying it down river.

Canoeing the river was probably the best way to learn about the habitat and last formation. Getting to experience the strength of the water and making observations gave us all a better understanding of why these rivers form and its tributes into the bay. One question that is still not answered for me is why do the people still blame the Susquehanna as the main pollution issue into the bay? It’s beautiful water that is crystal clear. Hopefully my question will be answered by the end of this journey when we move further down the river into the farm lands.


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