October 05, 2012

Flood waters seen from Shikellamy Overlook

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Updated Nov. 28: PCN plans to air coverage of the River Symposium Wednesday, Nov. 28, at 4:10 p.m., and again around 7:30 p.m. Check local listings for availability.

By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Bucknell University will host the 7th Annual Susquehanna River Symposium, "Wasn't That A Mighty Storm! Flooding in the Susquehanna watershed," Oct. 12 and 13 in the Terrace Room (Room 256) of 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.

Because of its geographic location with respect to sources of hurricanes and tropical storms, the enormous size of the watershed, and hydrology and morphology of channel, the Susquehanna River is one of the most flood-prone rivers in the United States, according to Benjamin Hayes, director of Bucknell's Susquehanna River Initiative and chair of this year's symposium.

"Many of us remember clearly the devastation and deaths related to Hurricane Agnes in 1972 and other floods including the ice floods of 1972 and January 1996 and Hurricane Ivan in 2004. In early September of last year, Tropical Storm Lee dumped more than 18 inches of rain in the watershed, which was already water-logged from Hurricane Irene which swept through the basin several weeks earlier.

"Lee was the flood of record in our region. The flooding closed Bucknell's campus, displaced more than 100,000 people, caused massive amounts of erosion and sedimentation, and destroyed more than 100 miles of roads and bridges, farm fields and communities. Understanding the causes of flooding and their impact on streams, aquatic ecosystems, and human life is of great interest to people in our region," he said.

The goal of this symposium is to bring together students, faculty, scientists, engineers, planners, and community leaders to explore flooding in the Susquehanna watershed and its impacts on human and aquatic life, infrastructure, tributary stream channels, and areas downstream, including the Chesapeake Bay. Various speakers also will address the latest technologies and approaches to flood forecasting, floodplain management, and risk reduction.

Friday, Oct. 12

  • Peter Wilshusen, executive director of the BUEC, will give opening remarks at 7 p.m., followed by a welcome by Bucknell President John Bravman.
  • 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.
  • Paul Swartz, executive director of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, will give the keynote address, "Floods, droughts and everything in between," at 7:30 p.m.
  • Matthew J. Ehrhart, Pennsylvania executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, will give the talk, "The Connection to the Chesapeake Bay" at 8 p.m. in the Terrace Room.
  • 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. 13

  • 9:15 a.m.: "Flood forecasting in the Susquehanna watershed," William Marosi, chief hydrometeorologist with the Mid-Atlantic Flood Forecasting Center of NOAA National Weather Service.
  • 9:45 a.m.: "The hydrology of the Epic Floods of Tropical Storm Lee, September 2011" by Mark Roland, hydrologist with the U. S. Geological Survey.
  • 10:15 a.m.: "Extreme flood events in the Susquehanna watershed and their impact on stream erosion and sedimentation" R. Craig Kochel, Bucknell professor of geology.
  • 10:45 a.m.: "Impact of floods on fish and aquatic life in the Susquehanna River," Geoff Smith, biologist with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
  • 11:30 a.m.: "Impact on roads, bridges, houses and other infrastructures: An engineering perspective," T. Jay Cunningham, director of engineering design with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
  • Noon: "Impact of Tropical Storm Lee on communities and lives in the Susquehanna watershed: An example from Bloomsburg and Montour County" Trevor Finn, Montour County commissioner, and Zabrina Finn, executive director of The Women's Center Inc., of Columbia and Montour counties.
  • 1:30 p.m.: Panel Discussion. "Flood impacts and planning for the future," moderated by John Dawes, executive director with Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds.
  • 2:15 p.m.: Optional showing of "The Water's Edge: Profits and Policy Behind the Rising Catastrophe of Floods," an award-winning documentary by the Flood Safety Project and Public Entity Risk Institute.

Contact: Division of Communications


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