The Susquehanna River Basin Compact was signed into law by the U.S. Congress and the states of New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania in 1970. The intent of the compact was to provide a mechanism to guide the water resource management of the Susquehanna River Basin. The Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) is that mechanism. It promotes sustainable water resource management through regulatory authority over water withdrawals and consumptive water use (water that does not return to the water resource, such as that used in manufacturing or agriculture). It also has non-regulatory functions related to monitoring and supporting water quality, working to reduce damage from floods, and supporting activities that protect and restore healthy aquatic ecosystems. For a more detailed description of the SRBC’s structure and function go to srbc-overview.pdf.
Additional information can be found in
The SRBC requires a permit for withdrawals from surface water or groundwater that exceed 100,000 gallons per day (gpd) over a 30-day average from any source or combination of sources within the Basin as well as all water used in any amount for natural gas activities. Consumptive water use of 20,000 gpd or more over a 30-day average from any source is also similarly regulated. Water diversions of 20,000 gpd or more into or out of the basin are subject to review and approval. For public water supply withdrawals, the Commission coordinates closely with the PA Department of Environmental Protection since both agencies have management roles for ensuring the public has a reliable drinking water source.
Withdrawals in the Spring Creek Watershed
Currently there are 92 permitted groundwater and eight permitted surface water withdrawals in the Spring Creek Watershed. Permit holders include seven municipal water providers and Penn State University, four fish hatcheries, four golf courses, industrial users (most of which are mining operations), and Rockview Correctional Institution. Permits for groundwater withdrawals allow for 41 million gallons per day (mgd) and those for surface withdrawals allow for 11 mgd. However, actual reported use of groundwater and surface water is typically less than permitted amounts.
Nine of the withdrawal permits allow for a consumptive use of 6 mgd. SRBC estimates that an additional 4 mgd of water is used for consumptive purposes by unregulated entities, such as private homes and farms. While 10 mgd sounds like a huge amount of water, under normal conditions it represents a rather small proportion of stream flow in Spring Creek. During the period of 1967 to 2017, average daily flow at Milesburg was 230 cubic feet per second or 148.7 mgd. Hence, estimated consumptive use of water represents 6.7% of the average daily flow in Spring Creek, although this percentage would be greater during drought conditions.
Monitoring and Protection Activities
The SRBC regularly produces technical reports. The following reports contain information about the Spring Creek watershed.