South Mountain Speakers discuss water protection

On Thursday, Nov. 8, Patrick Bowling, source water protection coordinator at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection spoke to about 120 people at SU’s Memorial Auditorium.

His lecture was part of the South Mountain Speakers series. The event was organized by SU professor Allen Dieterich-Ward. The purpose of the lecture was to educate the community about the “challenges of conserving water quality and quantity in the region.”

Prior to the lecture, 10 local watershed management groups, including the Franklin County Watershed Association and Antietam Creek watershed showcased their work in the auditorium’s lobby.

Bowling started his presentation with basic information on hydrology and geology. He then spoke in detail about the effects and processes of installing a well and the importance of taking preventative measures such as grouting, against contamination.

“Paying a couple hundred extra dollars to get a well grouted will save time and money against contamination,” Bowling said. “An ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure.”

Bowling focused his attention on the problems of the Cumberland Valley and surrounding areas. He presented state-wide data and narrowed in on the hazards prevalent in the region. According to Bowling’s data, agriculture run-off is the No. 1 source of groundwater contamination in the region.

Another source of contamination causing problems on a national level is the improper disposal of prescription drugs, which the Drug Enforcement Agency has taken an interest in.

After scientists found levels of pharmaceutical drugs in aquatic life, the DEA started sponsoring drug take-back events, where anybody could drop-off unused or unwanted drugs and safely dispose of them.

Although prescription drug disposal is not the Shippensburg area’s biggest threat to groundwater contamination, Bowling encourages all unwanted prescription drugs be disposed of by being put in kitty litter or coffee grounds.

After Bowling’s lecture, he joined a panel with SU professor Christopher Woltemade and Washington Township manager Michael Christopher for a question-and-answer session.

“This is not a new idea,” Bowling said. “Water protection has been around since the Jamestown proclamation.”

Bowling encourages students and the Shippensburg community to get involved and take control.
“Raise awareness and know where your water is coming from,” Bowling said.

The audience was made up of an even mix of students, faculty and community members, including Sen. Richard Alloway.

“I think it was a huge success,” Dieterich-Ward said.

Bowling’s lecture was the last in the 2012 South Mountain Speaker series. For more information, and for next year’s schedule, visit

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