As I stated in the past, as more water quality information becomes available, I will relay it to you. I like to use data that is peer reviewed. This week I will relay information on what is being found in our rivers.

A lot of us do not understand the intricacies of watersheds. The watershed community is a complex interaction of water chemistry, insects, crustacean fish, salamanders, etc.

Each of these constituents interacts with the others in a complex manner that comprises the watershed. These inhabitants live in harmony. If any one of these components is damaged in anyway, it acts as a ripple effect.

This leads me to one of the most overlooked inhabitants, which is also one of the most important species found in the watershed. The overlooked species is the fresh water mussel.

We often call these creatures clams, which are filter feeders. This means they absorb nutrients from the water as the water passes through the organism. These creatures tell us what is in the water.

If mussels are dissected and analyzed, their tissue will reveal any pollutants that may be found in the water. These mussels are very intolerant to pollutants.

If you remember when Dunkard Creek was destroyed by frack water being pumped into the stream from Blacksville No 2 mine, the mussels were eradicated. Many mussels have a unique life cycle and must have a host in order to survive.

For example, one species of mussel must have an alternate host of a specific bluegill. If this bluegill is eradicated, then the mussel will die as well. In the recovery of Dunkard Creek, species of fish and other hosts had to be inoculated and re-introduced into the watershed. The latest report I received states that the mussels are now doing very well in the stream.

One thing I learned doing this research is that certain salamanders are also hosts to certain mussel species.

A recent study was completed on the mussels in the Allegheny River system; mussels were collected near Warren, PA and analyzed.

The results showed high levels of radiation in the mussels. Their shells were ground up and the crumbs were studied. Mussels have growth rings similar to trees as they age.

If the age layers are carefully studied not only can one determine the age, but also pollution type and the year that the pollution occurred. The study showed that there was a direct correlation to the rise in radiation found in the mussels and the gas drilling taking place.

The radiation levels seemed to indicate that the natural gas drilling industry was the source of this radiation increase in mussels. The highest years seem to be when sewage treatment plants were taking frack water and discharging it into receiving waters.

At present, I do not have any evidence of research on the Mon River system. If the research becomes available, I will relay the findings to you.

On a sad note, I would like to dedicate this article to my brother who recently passed away with stomach cancer. He was responsible for the development of the kayak launch ramps on Ten Mile Creek as well as the bridges in our area and the bike trail bridges in Ohio Pyle State Park. His accomplishments will provide a service to the community for years to come.

I will miss him immensely.

I love you, brother Mike.

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