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Bay Quiz

How Much Do You Know About The Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay?

The Susquehanna River, one of America's most important waterways, is a part of the Chesapeake Bay Basin. Find out how much you know about the Susquehanna by answering the following questions:

1. About how large is the Susquehanna River Basin?

A. 9 million acres
B. All of PA
C. 20,000 square miles (The size of 12,390,400 football fields)

The Susquehanna River Basin drains 13 million acres or over 20,000 square miles. (An area comparable to the size of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, combined). The Susquehanna River Basin is a part of one of the largest basins in the Eastern United States, The Chesapeake Bay Basin. The Susquehanna River Basin is made up of forests (62%) and pasture and cropland areas (36%). The remainder of the Basin is urban communities (2%).

In Pennsylvania, approximately 3 million people live and work in the Susquehanna River Basin. That's a quarter of the entire Chesapeake Bay Basin's population. Anything that goes on the land or into the waters of the Susquehanna River drainage basin may eventually reach the Chesapeake Bay.

2. About how much freshwater does the Susquehanna River contribute to the Chesapeake Bay?

A. 15%
B. 25%
C. 50%

The Susquehanna River flows from New York, through Pennsylvania and Maryland, and into the Chesapeake Bay a total of 440 miles. Almost half of Pennsylvania lies in the Chesapeake Bay Basin.

The Susquehanna has an average flow of 19 million gallons of water per minute. The river supplies 50% of the freshwater entering the Bay, and is the Bay's largest freshwater contributor. The Potomac River, also located in parts of Pennsylvania, contributes an additional 2% of the Bay's freshwater.

In the upper portion of the Chesapeake Bay, as much as 90% of the freshwater comes from the Susquehanna. The health of the Chesapeake is closely tied to the Susquehanna River's water quality.

3. Nonpoint Source Pollution affects the Bay's ecology. Some examples of Nonpoint Source Pollution are:

A. Soil Erosion and Nutrients
B. Both A & C
C. Household Cleaners and Pesticides

Water pollution comes from a wide variety of sources. The sources are often separated into two categories: Nonpoint Source and Point Source pollution.

The less obvious, Nonpoint Source Pollution is not easily traced. Think of it as a source of pollution that cannot be "pinpointed" as entering a water supply at an exact location. Nonpoint Source Pollution affects water quality by entering connecting waterways as surface runoff, groundwater contamination, or precipitation.

Some examples of Nonpoint Source Pollution include agricultural runoff (animal waste, soil erosion) abandoned mine drainage, and household fertilizers, cleaners, and pesticides.

On the other hand, Point Source Pollution comes from a single-identifiable source. Some Point Source examples are industrial discharge points or municipal wastewater treatment facilities.

4. Nutrient overloads impact local water quality and the Chesapeake Bay. The two nutrients primarily responsible for declining water quality are:

A. Nitrogen & Phosphorous
B. Potassium & Iron
C. Calcium & Phosphorous

Nitrogen and phosphorous are the major nonpoint source nutrient pollutants threatening the health of the Bay. Excessive amounts of chemical and organic nutrients being applied to crops may pollute water. In the upper portion of the Bay, it is estimated that 77% of the nitrogen and 53% of the phosphorous entering the Bay stems from Pennsylvania.

Excess nutrients alter the Bay's ecosystem by causing an overgrowth of algae. The algae "blooms" deplete oxygen in the water, and block sunlight needed by aquatic plants and animals to survive.

5. Both humans and wildlife depend on healthy streams and rivers. Some benefits provided by the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay include:

A. Both B & C
B. Recreation
C. Food

The Chesapeake Bay and/or the Susquehanna River provide many benefits to humans and wildlife including:

  • supplying millions of pounds of fish, annually
  • functioning as a major shipping ports and commercial centers
  • providing critical wildlife habitat
  • offering a wide variety of recreational opportunities

We depend on the Bay and tie Bay depends on us. In order to restore and protect our natural neighborhood, we must learn how to become responsible citizens of the Chesapeake Bay Basin community.

6. A homeowner can help reduce Nonpoint Source Pollution by

A. Both B & C
B. Recycling paper, bottles, and cans
C. Fencing along streams and/or planting trees

You may ask yourself, "How can I, just one person, help to protect water quality?" While it's true that the Chesapeake Bay is a long way from Pennsylvania, the Susquehanna River connects 440 miles of land, people, and wildlife to the Chesapeake Bay. The activities of the 13 million people living and working in the Bay Basin affect not only the Bay, but local water quality as well.

Water quality problems didn't happened overnight. How long will it take to restore the Bay? No one knows for sure, but what is certain is that long-term commitments must be made by inpiduals if Bay clean-up efforts are to be successful. It is interested citizens; such as yourself working together, that will make a difference.

If each person in the Chesapeake Bay Basin does just one positive thing to protect our water resources we will be well on our way to reversing damages. Then one person cares enough to lead the way, often times others will become concerned and follow.

Are You ready to help? Say, "Yes" I will help protect local water quality and restore the Chesapeake Bay by:

  • Conserving water
  • Recycling aluminum cans, bottles, papers, and other recyclable materials
  • Fencing along streams and/or Planting grasses, trees, and shrubs to help prevent soil erosion.
  • Using and disposing of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides correctly.
  • Implementing a farm nutrient management plan
  • Volunteering for activities such as tree sales sponsored by local conservation district
  • Encouraging government representatives to support conservation-related programs

The Susquehanna is a Living River that not only provide benefits for humans and wildlife, but is the life-line of the Chesapeake Bay.

SAY, "YES" : A Cleaner Bay Starts in Pennsylvania

For more information, contact The Bay Education Office, 225 Pine Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101 (717 236-1006).

A cooperative project between the Department of Environmental Protection and related State and Federal Agencies and Organizations.