Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: Is declining bass population in Susquehanna a sign of larger environmental problems?

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Jan 5, 2016 1:40 PM


What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, January 5, 2016:

It has been a mystery as to why the smallmouth bass population in the Susquehanna River has declined to less than a third of what it was 10 years ago.  

However, a new study has narrowed the causes down to two -- endocrine-disrupting compounds and herbicides and infections from parasites and pathogens.  The research says the immune systems of the fish have been weakened by the compounds and herbicides, making them more susceptible to infections.  

Endocrine disrupters come from sources such as wastewater treatment plants and pharmaceuticals along with other chemicals.

The plight of the smallmouth bass raises the question of just how healthy the Susquehanna River is and is it part of larger environmental issues?

Pennsylvania's Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection John Quigley and John Arway, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission appear on Tuesday's Smart Talk.

Among the issues we'll address is whether the Susquehanna should be designated as "impaired."  The Fish and Boat Commission supports the move while DEP has resisted.

We'll discuss other environmental issues as well.

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Pennsylvania's Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection John Quigley

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John Arway, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission


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  • Radio Smart Talk img 2016-01-05 10:17

    Dwayne Emails…

    With the budget cuts your agency has experienced in the past few years; and the loss of nearly 700 employees, do you feel that your agency is equipped to both study this issue, and provide enforcement and/or remediation?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2016-01-05 10:17

    Kevin emails…

    The river has been in a state of turmoil for 150 years or more due to a parade of assaults, and no 20 year period is comparable to another. The biological community has been constantly changing: Eels, shad, and many native crayfish and clams are gone or nearly gone.
    It's embarrassing to hear some state biologists claim that the river meets all standards when it is obviously not in good shape. Dams and invasive species are two major problems that need to be addressed along with emerging contaminates and pharmaceuticals.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2016-01-05 10:18

    David Emails…

    I fish the Conestoga frequently, from Brownstown to it's mouth at Safe Harbor. And the Smallmouth there are thriving. I've caught (and released) as many as 20 in an afternoon. So whatever is effecting the Susquehanna is not effecting the Conestoga.
    The Conestoga receives huge amounts of agricultural runoff, as well as treated (and untreated when it rains hard) sewage. The only difference I can think of in terms of pollutants, something that has changed in the past 20 years, is runoff from fracking. I realize that correlation does not prove causation, but can you address this topic.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2016-01-05 10:19

    Warren from Perkiomenville emails…

    One potential pollutant that is a recent addition to the equation is brine applied to road surfaces. Has any research been directed to this? Would scrutiny of this source be politically feasible?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2016-01-05 10:19

    A listener emails...

    I have been involved with administration and finance for my lifetime.
    One concern is paralysis from analysis. Does DEP have a strategic plan and time table involving the river.
    In 2005 a 13 year program would be over soon.