Lehigh River at Walnutport (near Pillars) : Walnutport
(water quality monitor active since 12April2015)
Walnutport Water Quality Monitor Live Data Stream Below (this function not currently operating properly)
Jim Thorpe Water Quality Monitor Live Data Stream below (this probe not in service)
PO Box 97
Trexlertown, PA 18087
Mission Statement The Lehigh River Stocking Association is a nonprofit, 501C-3 public
organization dedicated to the restoration, revitalization and restocking
of the Lehigh River. Our goal is the continuous improvement of this
waterway and its tributaries. Our objectives are to insure clean water,
a healthy and balanced ecosystem, an abundant fishery and access points
for all citizens to enjoy. This will be to the benefit of all interests;
including the businesses located throughout this region, the sportsmen
and the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This project has
been ongoing for the last seventeen years with ever-increasing success.
We need and ask for your support for this outstanding program to continue.
The LRSA meets the last Tuesday of every month (except December) at 7pm at the Wegmans Market Cafe at 390 West Tilghman St in Allentown.
Water Quality Grant Application
This year we did receive a $10,000 grant for a new Hydrolab Datasonde DS5 probe. See our NEWS section for more information. New features include a luminscent state-of-the-art dissolved oxygen sensor, a nitrate sensor and a self cleaning turbidity sensor. We plan to have this data connected to the Internet by the end of this summer. We have purchased a cellular modem to make this happen using $2,500 from a separate grant. We are serious about monitoring the Lehigh River water quality. If you would like to learn more or get involved with this growing program, please call Matt MacConnell at 610-657-2707.
Thanks to Air Products and Chemicals for their generation contribution of $2,000 to support the LRSA water quality monitoring program. This award was made in Februay 2011 and will fully fund our water quality program for the year.
The removal of metals (iron and manganese primarily) from the tunnel discharge relies in part on the oxidation of ferrous (Fe2+) iron to ferric (Fe3+) iron that settles as a percipitate in the wetland prior to entering the river. LRSA took a lead role in the installation of two passive aerators to improve performance. See report below.
The on-line water quality monitoring probe was deployed March 1st 2011 and data from the Lehigh River in Jim Thorpe is available at the link below. Historical data from 1Mar2009 and Oct2009 then from 5July2010 to October2010 is also avaialable. This is the only system of its kind in the Delaware River Basin. Please check out the following web site link:
User Name: Lehigh River
(note, case sensitive)
Expand the subdirectories by clicking the + until the measurements are
listed. Click on the parameter of interest and the trend will be
charted and data values tabulated. Click on the "properties" tab to
select the time window and/or to add multiple parameters to your charts.
The data can be easily exported to Excel (csv file) by clicking the
export tab or printed directly.
The LRSA submitted a grant application to US Fish and Wildlife for installation of a fishway on the Parryville Dam in Parryville, PA. This dam is located on the Pohopoco Creek, 200 yards from the confluence with the Lehigh River. The Pohopoco Creek is a cold tail water from Beltzville dam and offers essential thermal refuge for Lehigh trout in summer months. The fishway will expand the cold water habitat available to Lehigh River trout greatly enhancing survival (hold over) through summer months as well as spawning habitat. Bidirectional trout traffic from above and below the dam will be the project objective. Note that the first objective was dam removal but this was ruled out because the dam is being used by the Palmerton Borough to provide water to users in Palmerton (a 20" pipeline delivers water from the impoundment to Palmerton). The project proposal was developed with funding from the Lehigh Valley Sierra Club. The US Fish and Wildlife are administering funds from the Zinc Pile superfund settlement which if successful would be used to fund this project.
A FEW public meeting was held on October 27, 2009. The 2009 performance was reviewed and the 2010 plan reviewed. The plan went well last year but there was plenty of water so the plan wasnt too challenged. One adjustment for next year is to move a May white water day to July, this will give better fishing access in May and provide more volume when we need it in July.
The public meeting on January 21st was well attended. George Sauls from Army Corp presented the 2009 plan and highlited what was the same and what was new. The plan is provided at this link:
This report provides water quality parameters taken from 13 Lehigh River tributaries in the area close to the confluence with the Lehigh River. Data was taken on May 1st. It is planned to take more readings in late summer to characterize the tributary water quality and how well they support the trout fishery in the Lehigh.
This report details the temperature profile in the Lehigh at Jim Thorpe.
What appears (and smells) to be a raw sewage drain flowing into the Lehigh just upstream of the Triechlers Bridge was discovered during stocking on March27 and reported to authorities. The LRSA is watching out for Lehigh Water Quality and is taking action when we can. UPDATE - This is the discharge stream from a waste water treatment facility located up on the hill (not is site from the river). The waste water discharge is supposed to "clean" but clearly it was not meeting spec. The PFBC official who investigated found it running brown and foul. He indicated they had an issue with this in the past and was due to operations malfunction at the plant. He committed to getting in touch with the plant to get this fixed ASAP. Will advise...
The LRSA provided manpower needed to install the two open channel flow monitors at the Lausanne Tunnel abandoned mine drainage (AMD) site in Jim Thorpe. The project was completed in December 2009 and was funded by a grant from the Lehigh Valley Group Sierra Club, Pennsylvania Chapter. Funding was also provided by Wildlands Conservancy. A report was prepared which describes the work accomplished in detail. The tunnel is currently discharging an average 5100 gal/min of raw tunnel discharge into the Nesquehoning Creek (which flows into the Lehigh about 1 mile upstream of the Jim Thorpe train station). The tunnel discharge flow through the passive wetland system is approximately 2500 gal/min.
The rectangular open channel flow meter shown above meters the flow of raw abandoned mine drainage (AMD) from the Lausanne Tunnel into Nesquehoning Creek. Flow is about 9000 gallons per minute. This water is high in iron, sulfate, aluminum, etc.
The open channel flow meter at left measures the flow through the passive wetland treatment system, this flow is about 2500 gal/min. Both flow meters were installed with funds provided by Lehigh Valley Group Sierra Club and Wildlands Conservancy. The LRSA provided the manpower to get the meters installed.
Lehigh River Water Quality Monitoring in Jim Thrope . Comparison of the Water temperature over the last three years in graph below or download this pdf to get additional trends (depth, specific conductance, dissolved oxygen and pH). WQ_Trend_Comparison
Water quality continues to be monitored at Jim Thorpe from March through September each year. The average temperatures
were calculated for each month and plotted on the graph below. Also plotted are the maximum temperature criteria
listed in the Chapter 93 Water Quality Standards for Cold Water (CWF) and Trout Stocked (TSF) Fisheries. We see that
the water easily falls within the constraints of the TSF but exceeds the CWF temperature criteria between May and June.
On average, the data shows that the water temperature is increasing each year. Temperatures in 2006, 2007 and
2008 were 58.7, 59.7 and 60.3 deg F respectively for a total increase of 1.6 F. The LRSA will continue this water
monitoring program thru 2009. Other water quality parameters monitored are dissolved oxygen, depth, turbidity, pH,
specific conductance, ORP and Nitrates. This data provides useful information to fisheries biologists, particularly while
we are in the midst of trying to better understand the best F.E.W dam flow release strategies and corresponding impacts
on the water quality.
The Army Corp of Engineers has prepared the fact sheet below to describe the status of the Lehigh River Recreational Enhancement Study. Please take a look, success of this project will be important to the Lehigh River trout fishery
Lehigh River Study - Project Fact Sheet from Army Corps
Parryville Dam on Pohopoco Creek - Sierra Club Grant recieved for the purpose of defining options for dam modification that would enable fish passage while retaining the impoundment for the Palmerton Municpal Authority who extracts about 0.5 million gallons per day for industrial users in Palmerton. This video provides a closeup look at the dam and surrounding area. The Pohopoco is a cold tail water from the Beltzville Dam and represents outstanding trout habitat that would provide thermal refuge for Lehigh River trout in summer, plus spawning opportunities for Lehigh Brown Trout. Unfortunately the dam which is located only 200 yards from the confluence with the Lehigh, restricts migration of trout in the Pohopoco. The result is the Lehigh trout stack up below the dam. It is desired to find a way to enable the trout to move up and down the Pohopoco in a more natural way. The PA Fish and Boat does stock legal sized trout in the Pohopoco below the Beltzville dam, so enabling fish passage will also provide state stocked fish to reach the Lehigh as well.
The Water quality is monitored around the clock in the Lehigh River about 1/2 mile upstream of the Jim Thorpe train station. The information is collected using a multiple sensor probe system that features a datalogger. The probe records water quality data every hour and stores it in memory. Every 2 weeks the data is downloaded to a laptop PC in the field and plotted in data graphs such as the one below.
Matt MacConnell (left) applies a pH buffer solution during a bi-monthly calibration of the water quality probe along the banks of the Lehigh in Jim Thorpe.
Photo above taken during Day 2 of 2007 Lehigh River Sojourn at Lehigh Gap Nature Center. Pictured are from left Larry Rafes (Wildlands), Tom Gyory (LRSA), Chris Kocher (Wildlands), Matt MacConnell (LRSA) and Marvin White (Lehigh University) . Tom and Matt had just given a lunch time presentation about the LRSA stocking and conservation efforts to the 80 or so folks on the Sojourn.
LRSA is Charted below - 2007, the Lehigh in Jim Thorpe.
Lehigh River Stocking Association - Watershed Information
Lausanne Tunnel AMD
The Lausanne Tunnel abandoned mine drainage (AMD) site located
just north of Jim Thorpe was installed in 1906 to dewater the anthracite
coal fields and discharges into Nesquehoning Creek at an average 10 cubic
feet per second. Two wetlands were installed a few years back to treat
a large portion of this discharge. Tracer tests were conducted by Wildlands
Conservancy to evaluate retention and flow characteristics so that improvements
could be identified and planned. It was determined that the retention
time is 60 minutes and that some attenuation in pollutants is taking place.
The aquatic plants that LRSA helped plant two years ago are taking root
in the 1st wetland but only those at the perimeter have survived in the
second wetland. This is because the water is too deep in the second. Plants
are needed to create the biomass and surface area needed to help flocculate
Because Lausanne AMD discharge represents 53% of the total AMD load into
the river, the success of this system is very important. The pounds per
day (ppd) load into the Lehigh from this has been estimated at 293 ppd
Aluminum, 307 ppd Manganese, 39,523 ppd Sulfate and 538 ppd Total Iron.
The tunnel contributes more than 84% of the total alkalinity from AMD
tributaries into the Lehigh River so the pH is relatively high at about
6.4. The fact that this discharge is more alkaline is why it is believed
that a simple wetland lagoon system will be effective in the flocculation
(settling out) of the contaminants. The next most significant AMD sources
include the following tunnels: Owl Hole, Quakake, Buck Mountain #2, Sandy
Run and Buck Mountain #1.
Matt MacConnell, Director
at left the tunnel discharge pond
at right the outflow of the wetland system into Lehigh River.
LEHIGH RIVER STOCKING ASSOCIATION
WATERSHED COMMITTEE Lehigh River/Francis E Walter Reservoir
Goals & Objectives Water Storage Increase
Negotiate with the Army Corp of Engineers (ACE) to increase storage in
the Francis E Walter Reservoir (FEW). In conjunction with increase water
storage develop a regulated water release program to enhance the aquatic
ecosystem in the Lehigh River while simultaneously providing additional
rafting opportunities during low water periods common in the summer months.
Increase storage capacity in FEW to a depth (i.e. 130 feet)
that will create a thermal-cline, separation in warm and cold water
(55 degree F), with in the reservoir.
Allow enough capacity in FEW to permit the ACE to comply with flood
control protection guidelines and protection of down-river properties.
Performance of various flow/capacity studies as required in order
to obtain scientific data for establishing a regulated release/flow
policy from the FEW. It is anticipated that releases/flows will benefit
the aquatic ecosystem and enhance recreational rafting opportunities
on the Lehigh River throughout the year.
Provide economic opportunities for surrounding towns, boroughs and
municipalities as a result of increase in recreational use on the Lehigh.
Organization of the Lehigh River Stocking Association Watershed Committee
(LRSAWC) along with support groups (i.e. Trout Unlimited, Wildlands
Conservancy, Wildlife Information Center, Lehigh River Guides Association,
White Water Rafting Assoc.) to promote and assist in the necessary studies
concerning flows and recreation on the Lehigh.
Discuss Formal Approval process with the ACE and the PA
Dept of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) to request increase
of storage in FEW and implementation of changes in operational policy
with the ACE.
Ensure flexibility of any preliminary Water Release Flow Plans
to allow for changes as deemed necessary based on meteorological conditions.
Provide awareness of the economic benefits of such changes with FEW
to local towns, boroughs and municipalities.
Request political support as needed from our local, state and federal
legislators as needed. (Rep. Keith McCall, Rep. Robert Godshall, Rep.
As a result of the Army Corp of Engineers (ACE) relocating the road from
inside the Francis E Walter Reservoir (FEW) to the top of the dam breast,
changes to the operation of this impoundment are now available. Previously,
during high water periods and flood control operation, the road in question
would flood, restricting access to the town on the other side of the FEW
reservoir and leading to health and safety issues for local residents.
To date, many conversations have been ongoing with state Legislators
(listed above) regarding proposed changes for the increase in water storage
within the FEW and development of a regulated release policy. The organization
of the LRSAWC will assist in promoting this effort and organizing efforts
of various groups such as Trout Unlimited, Wildlands Conservancy, Wildlife
Information Center, Lehigh River Stocking Association, Lehigh River Guides
Association and local municipalities to provide support and assistance
with ongoing negotiations with the ACE and any future studies as required
by the ACE.
It is anticipated that increasing the storage capacity to a depth of
130 (1430 elevation) is expected to result in significant
enhancement to the Lehighs ecosystem as well as recreational opportunities.
These benefits are listed as follows:
Cold water flows (~55 degree F) from the bottom of FEW could potentially
create 30-40 miles of High Quality Coldwater Fishery or Exceptional
Consistent flows during periods of low water and high air temperatures
will assure survival and growth of the aquatic life and enhance the
ecosystem as a whole on the Lehigh River.
Regulated flows will increase recreational rafting opportunities that
are currently subjected to the mercy of Mother Nature and what is agreed
upon with ACE for releases on selected weekends.
Increasing storage will also provide recreational power boating opportunities
with in the FEW impoundment along with increase in fishing possibilities
in the lake itself.
Local businesses and municipalities will benefit as a result of the
increase in tourism to the region. It has the potential to generate
$30-50 million dollar in tourism and recreation to the Lehigh River
Reservoir Comparison Chart
Lehigh River Flow Chart
Lehigh River Hatches (aquatic life)
Fishing Industry Economic Information (BeaMoc & Missouri)
Lausanne Tunnel Project
Members of the LRSA participated in an event this past weekend
held by the Wildlands Conservancy. Approximately 1000 heavy metal loving
plants (cattails & bullrush) were planted in the lower basin. As these
plants grow and multiply, they will basically remove the heavy metals
dissolved in the water.
Haybail baffles were secured in the upper basin to allow for the addition
of organic material in the basin to assist in plant growth and to slow
down the water flow.
This treatment system is set up to remove approximately half of the amount
of Acid Mine Drainage that is entering the Nesquehoning Creek and into
the Lehigh. This discharge is the largest contributor to AMD on the river.
Was great fun, slopping around in the "Yellow Boy" all morning.
Beautiful day to hold this event. Thanks to Wildlands Conservancy for
pulling all this together.
LRSA to Monitor Lehigh River Water Quality
The LRSA has long had a vision to continuously monitor water quality
in the Lehigh River and make this data available to the public on the
Internet. The association has made progress toward this vision with the
recent purchase of two Hydrolab Datasonde 3 multiparameter water quality-monitoring
instruments from Parkland High School. The two instruments have not been
used since Parkland stopped running the Lehigh River Watch program. LRSA
intends to have a probe in the water full time in Northampton where each
probe will be in service one week at a time while the other probe is out
for weekly service and recalibration. Funds are being pursued through
grant proposals to purchase additional equipment and software needed to
support development of a system that will upload water quality data to
our www.LRSA.org web site. Parameters that will be available on-line include:
dissolved oxygen, pH, specific conductance, temperature, turbidity, and
oxidation-reduction potential (ORP). Dissolved oxygen is one of the most
important parameters for a healthy trout population. High dissolved oxygen
level is a good indicator of a healthy ecosystem and the Lehigh generally
maintains a level in excess of 7 ppm, which is the minimum requirement
for a high quality, cold-water fishery (HQCWF) as defined by DEP.
LRSA's, Datasonde 3 Hydroprobesat Northampton in May of
2004. We now have probes in the river 24/7 monitoring pH, Dissolved
Oxygen, conductivity, turbidity, and level. Matt MacConnell removes
the probe on right for data download. The clean probe on left will
take it's place for a week of water quality monitoring.
The Hydrolab probes will enable LRSA to offer great insight into conditions
in the river for sportsman, conservationists, students and others. The
probes will enable the LRSA and others to track water quality trends in
the river and to provide an alarm capability if a sudden unhealthy condition
develops. Based on years of monitoring the Lehigh through the River Watch
program, Bob Miller (1) and his students have developed a number of observations
that are helpful as we continue in this effort to understand the Lehigh
River. Several of these observations are provided below:
pH rises with increasing temperature
The mean pH has risen significantly over the past three years, producing
daily peak pH readings of greater than pH 9 with increasing frequency.
Dissolved oxygen decreases with increasing temperature, but has not
declined under the worst conditions to become a limiting factor on the
Percent dissolved oxygen greater than 100% is indicative of periods
of high photosynthesis activity such as with algae blooms. Algae blooms
definitely occur in the spring as the water passes through the 3 to
15 degree centigrade range, and may reoccur in early fall depending
on meteorological conditions as the river peaks above 25 degrees centigrade
and cools back through the 15 to 3 degree range. High daily pH peaks
are common on bright sunny days with low water turbidity during these
Specific conductance increases with increased temperature. Most of
this increase can be attributed to ions generated by the carbon dioxide
released as respiration rates increase at higher temperatures. Low flows
that correlate with these temperatures may also create increases in
specific conductance by concentration of point sources of pollution.
Increase in turbidity lower dissolved oxygen, presumably by limiting
the light required for photosynthesis. Surprisingly, increases in turbidity
seem to have little affect on specific conductance and may be the result
of multiple opposing factors.
Reference: Miller, Robert, D. Summary of Mean Run Data for 1997, 1998,
1999, and 2000 [to July] Lehigh River, Northampton, PA. July 2000).
The LRSA is not the only conservation minded organization who is monitoring
the Lehigh River. The DRBC is monitoring temperature and dissolved oxygen
at Bethlehem and there is a program in place at Lehigh University where
similar Hydrolab probes are being used to monitor water quality in the
vicinity of the Bethlehem Boat Club. It is expected that LRSA will collaborate
with these and other organizations that are monitoring the river water
quality. Stay tuned for more information on this program. A primer on
what parameters can be measured, their normal range, and what it means
is provided below.
Temperature (seasonal) Temperature varies seasonally and
diurnally (from day to night) pH (6.5 to 7.5) The pH varies diurnally due to natural causes.
Natural variation is primarily in relation to the photosynthetic activity
of algae where photosynthesis consumes CO2. The CO2 dissolved in the water
tends to drive pH down due to equilibrium with carbonic acid. At night
when photosynthesis is not occurring, the CO2 level rises and the pH drops
accordingly. Abandoned mine drainage (AMD) and point source pollution
also contribute to unnatural pH variation. Level (probe typically submerged 1 meter) The depth that
the probe is submerged is recorded. This provides an indirect indication
of water flow. Turbidity (0 7 NTU) Provides an indication of how
much suspended solids are stirred up in the water (murkiness) such as
silt, algae, etc.. Specific Conductance (0.1 0.12 mS/cm) This parameter
is a measure of the amount of dissolved solids and/or ions in the water.
Run off that carries salts or other materials such as various pollutants
that dissolve in the water will cause this reading to climb. Dissolved Oxygen (9 11 ppm) The amount of dissolved
oxygen is a function of water temperature, amount of aeration from rapids
or falls and the photosynthetic activity. Readings need to be above 6
to sustain healthy trout populations. ORP (300 600 mV) The ORP or oxidation-reduction potential
is a measure of certain types of chemicals that are in the water that
have electrochemical properties. For example chlorine in the water will
cause changes in the ORP reading.