September 25, 2013

Conowingo hydroelectric dam on the lower Susquehanna River, Maryland.
Conowingo hydroelectric dam on the lower Susquehanna River, Maryland

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By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Bucknell University will host the Eighth Annual Susquehanna River Symposium, "A Fragmented System: Dams on the Susquehanna River," Oct. 18 and 19 in the Elaine Langone Center. All events in this symposium are free and open to the public without registration.

The symposium is sponsored by the Susquehanna River Initiative of the Bucknell University Environmental Center (BUEC) and the Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition for Environmental Studies, a group of faculty and students from local universities whose research focuses on the Susquehanna River.

Bringing the public together with scientists, engineers, dam owners and operators and community leaders, the symposium will explore the legacy of dams in the Susquehanna watershed and their impacts on human and aquatic life in the river and Chesapeake Bay. [click here for schedule]

Dams on the Susquehanna River range from prehistoric glacial ice dams to historic mill, canal and logging dams to modern hydroelectric, flood control and recreational dams, according to Benjamin Hayes, director of Bucknell's Susquehanna River Initiative and chair of this year's symposium.

"Dams can provide a source of renewable energy, flood control and recreational boating to millions, but they also can impact fisheries, water quality and aquatic life. This symposium will explore how environmental consultants and hydropower facility owners are assessing the environmental impacts and evaluating various management alternatives," Hayes said.

Friday, Oct. 18 (events to be held in the Terrace Room of the Elaine Langone Center)
Peter Wilshusen, executive director of the BUEC, will give opening remarks at 7 p.m.

H.W. "Skip" Wieder, director of the Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition for Environmental Studies, will speak on the importance of university research and collaborative partnerships in the watershed at 7:20 p.m.

Ann Swanson, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, will give the keynote address, "The legacy of dams on the Susquehanna — a view upstream from the Chesapeake Bay," at 7:30 p.m.

A highlight of the evening will be a faculty and student research poster session and display booths from environmental agencies and regional watershed groups.

Saturday, Oct. 19 (events to be held in the Terrace Room of the Elaine Langone Center)
Brian Mangan, director of the Susquehanna Research Institute and professor at Kings College, will give opening comments at 9 a.m., followed by:

  • 9:15 a.m.: "Prehistoric ice dams and catastrophic paleofloods on the Susquehanna: their fingerprint on the river," Jessica Newlin, Bucknell civil and environmental engineering.
  • 9:45 a.m.: "Centuries of mill dams in the watershed: implications for stream restoration and reducing sediment delivery to the Chesapeake Bay" Robert Walter and Dorothy Merritts, Franklin & Marshall College earth and environmental sciences.
  • 10:15 a.m.: "Logging splash dams and timbering in the Susquehanna watershed; its legacy and importance," Benjamin Hayes and R. Craig Kochel, Bucknell University Environmental Center's Susquehanna River Initiative.
  • 10:45 a.m.: "The Conowingo hydropower facility on the Susquehanna: its importance, the FERC relicensing process and sustainable management alternatives," Kimberly Long, senior program manager of hydropower relicensing with Exelon Corp. and a 2001 Bucknell alumna.
  • 11:30 a.m.: "Lower Susquehanna hydroelectric dams: Overview of sediment transport and deposition," Marjorie Zeff, geologist and principal environmental scientist, URS Corp.
  • Noon: "Impact of large dams on fish, mussels and other aquatic communities in the Susquehanna River," Rick Spear, Pennsylvania DEP senior aquatic biologist.
  • 12:30 p.m.: "Removing low-head dams across the Susquehanna watershed: approaches that improve public safety, aquatic habitat and river aesthetics," Laura Craig, associate director of the River Restoration Program with American Rivers.

A lunch at 1 p.m. and open discussion, moderated by WKOK radio host Mark Lawrence at 1:30 p.m., will be held in Walls Lounge of the Elaine Langone Center, followed by closing comments by H.W. "Skip" Weider of the Susquehanna Heartland Coalition for Environmental Studies.