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The USGS just released two reports on water quality trends in the Delaware River Basin that include data from White Clay Creek. The first report provides a comprehensive assessment of changes in nutrients, salinity, major ions, and sediment for 16 constituents at 124 sites. The second report builds on that comprehensive assessment focused on specific conductance, a proxy for salinity.
A subset of sites in the lower basin, including White Clay Creek watershed stations (the red circles), had some of the largest increases in specific conductance (left side graph), and they occurred mostly during high flow conditions in winter months (right side graph).
These graphs show the changes in specific conductance, sodium, and chloride from two sites in the White Clay Creek Preserve. Given the strong relationships between specific conductance trends and sodium and chloride trends, deicing salt appears to be a likely driver of observed change. Even if deicing salt application plateaus or declines in coming years, the continued release and transport from the soils may still contribute to elevated concentrations.
Air vs Water Temperature
Have you seen one of these along White Clay Creek? There are several within the Preserve.
These special compartments (solar shields) hold a thermometer. These thermometers measure air temperature for a USGS Pennsylvania Water Science Center. They are part of a research project within the White Clay Creek and Little Lehigh River watersheds. Near each air temperature logger, a companion temperature logger sits in the river or creek measuring water temperature. The loggers within the stream are much smaller measuring only 1 inch wide by 1.5 inches long. There are roughly 75 temperature loggers throughout each of the White Clay Creek and Little Lehigh River
How to Use This Guide
Three geologic sites of interest within and near White Clay Creek Preserve are shown on the large map in the center of the guide. You can drive to Sites B and C, and hike to Site A. The sites are described in the section “Looking at the Rocks.”
Look for the geologist hammer in the guide and at each site to match descriptions and locations.
The first section (“Ancient Seas and Crushed Rocks”) describes how the rocks in White Clay Creek Preserve were formed. Read “Carving a Valley” to find out how the creek valley was carved out of the rocks and shaped to its present form. See “Early Days in the White Clay Creek Valley” and “The Wedge” to read about the history of the White Clay Creek area. The origin of the Preserve is discussed in the last section of the guide.