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Ferguson Township supervisors hear update on Spring Creek Watershed monitoring project

David Yoxtheimer, chairman of the Water Resources Monitoring Committee, presented to the Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors on Monday about the Spring Creek Watershed monitoring project. The project was initiated in 1997.
David Yoxtheimer, chairman of the Water Resources Monitoring Committee, presented to the Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors on Monday about the Spring Creek Watershed monitoring project. The project was initiated in 1997. Centre Daily Times, file

For almost 20 years, a group has been monitoring the quality and quantity of surface and groundwater in the Spring Creek Watershed.

During the Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors’ work session on Monday night, David Yoxtheimer presented to the board about work of the Water Resources Monitoring Project.

The project was initiated in 1997 by the Spring Creek Watershed Association, according to the project’s website.

The project has 15 surface water monitoring stations, five groundwater monitoring stations and eight spring monitoring stations.

On a quarterly basis, volunteers collect data from the streams, said Yoxtheimer, chairman of the Water Resources Monitoring Committee, which oversees the project.

Then there are also continuous recorders in the streams, springs and wells, he added.

“I liken it to an EKG of the water resources that we have here in Nittany Valley and Spring Creek,” Yoxtheimer said.

The committee is comprised of volunteers, but most are either geologists or aquatic scientists in some regard or engineers, Yoxtheimer, a hydro-geologist and extension associate at Penn State, said. They also work with a water resources coordinator, which is a full-time position housed at ClearWater Conservancy.

The average flow leaving Spring Creek through Milesburg Gap is about 150 million gallons per day, Yoxtheimer said. In the Spring Creek Watershed, about 15 million gallons per day are withdrawn by the water authorities, the university, private wells and industry.

“We’re taking about 10 percent of the water and using it, and ultimately most of it’s going back to the stream via wastewater treatment plant discharges or spray irrigation,” he said.

Every year, the committee produces a report about the project with a given theme; this year’s is geology, he said.

The geologic history of the region dictates the water resources that are available, Yoxtheimer said.

“All the data that we’re collecting can be used to help us understand the nature of water quality: Is it changing with the time due to changes with land use? Are there things we need to be paying more attention to?” Yoxtheimer said.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Steve Miller said that after almost 20 years, the project is getting to be “quite a valuable database” and asked if Yoxtheimer knew if the data was being used.

“It’s supported a lot of different types of projects” from municipalities to water authorities to Penn State researchers, Yoxtheimer said.

Various municipalities, State College Borough Water Authority, University Area Joint Authority, Penn State and Spring Creek Chapter of Trout Unlimited financially back the project, Yoxtheimer said.

Sarah Rafacz: 814-231-4619, @SarahRafacz

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