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Water quality and trout in Lehigh River is Speaker's Series subject

  • ELSA KERSCHNER/TIMES NEWS Water quality and trout in the Lehigh River are the subjects of Matt MacConnell's talk at the Lehigh Gap Nature Center.
    ELSA KERSCHNER/TIMES NEWS Water quality and trout in the Lehigh River are the subjects of Matt MacConnell's talk at the Lehigh Gap Nature Center.
Published November 01. 2013 05:00PM

Matt MacConnell, president of the Lehigh River Stocking Association, was the presenter at the Oct. 24 Speaker's Series meeting at the Lehigh Gap Nature Center.

He said the association spends $25,000 a year buying 8,000 fish and then has to decide the best place to stock them. Brown trout tend to stay in the area where they are placed but rainbows and tigers will travel up and down the river. Tigers are no longer stocked.

He said the Lehigh River has cold water springs and tributaries that help keep the water cool. He credits the nature center with helping stop pollution from washing into the river, said Ed Newcomb as he introduced MacConnell.

MacConnell said Bob Miller formed a group of Parkland High School scientists called RiverWatch. The association got the first of its probes from them. One is located one-half mile north of Lehigh Gap.

The group got a second probe so measurements can be taken at two different sites at the same time for comparison.

There is a constant feed on the Internet and contains water quality measurements over the years in several categories -, user name Lehigh River, password LRSA.

Newcomb said that information is a treasure trove for colleges and universities.

The Sierra Club provided a grant for a fish ladder at the Parryville Dam. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission said it would open miles of additional fishing area. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has put a hold on the project.

The planned method is an Alaskan Steeppass. Trout will use a pipe to continue their travel upriver. Though the steeppass has been used frequently, work cannot begin at Parryville until approval is received from all organizations involved.

The Lausanne Tunnel is the tributary with the coldest water and Coplay Creek contributes the warmest. The tunnel is the largest contributor to pollution but there are few nitrates in it.

@Quote.News:Our objectives are to ensure clean water,a healthy and balanced ecosystem,

an abundant fishery and access points for all citizens to enjoy.

@Quote.Byline1:LRSA website

Though $500,000 was spent on creating a wetland to filter pollution, it is not enough to clean all the water that comes through the tunnel. Aerators were added but so far beaver have caused problems with that.

The Pohopoc o is very clean. Beltzville Dam holds cold water at the bottom of the dam.

MacConnell said Fish and Boat has told the association it will never stock south of the Carbon County line because the water is too warm and there is insufficient access. However, more access sites are appearing all along the river.

MacConnell believes stocking is possible there and the association has done a study that he hopes will find the state helping stock that area.

Macroinvertebrates are an indicator of river water quality. MacConnell said not enough research has been done on them, but good numbers were found at the Walnutport boat launch.

Two wastewater treatment plants empty into the river system, but MacConnell said they both do a good job of treatment.

The association wants to put a boat launch at the Palmerton cloverleaf but so far it has not been allowed.

The 110-year-old Kriss Pines Hatchery closed and the new owners and the association would like to reopen it but pollution requirements at this time are too stiff to be met.

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