Health, money, and traditional values are at stake. Like many other limestone valley watersheds in the eastern United States, the Spruce Creek Watershed is presently trying to balance multiple ideals:
• Ensuring that agriculture remains productive
• Preserving a high quality of life for people living in the area and controlling development
• Protecting natural resources.

What makes the Spruce Creek Watershed possibly unique is the magnitude of what is at stake. The watershed is one of the most productive dairy/cattle farming regions of the State. The rapid growth of the State College area (Spring Creek Watershed) has recently extended into this watershed and resulted in changes to traditional lifestyles. Spruce Creek and Warriors Mark Run are well known trout streams, having been fished regularly by a number of presidents and touted by many regional and national publications and authorities as a premier fishery. In recognition of the ecologic and financial importance of streams with naturally reproducing trout populations, the State has compiled a list of these waters. Wetlands associated with these trout streams are given "exceptional value" designation, with special protections afforded to them.

The quality of the fishery is dependent upon maintaining stream water quality. And, that is not necessarily happening; one branch of Warriors Mark Run is presently listed as "not attaining" minimum stream water quality criteria by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PaDEP). Groundwater quality is marginal, and there is a distinct possibility that much well water will no longer be potable if “status quo” continues.

Additionally, as part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, there are huge economic incentives to accurately assess and improve stream water quality over the next three to five years through the Chesapeake Bay Agreement, a multi-state effort to revitalize the environmental health and economy of the Bay. If these tasks are not completed, there will likely be financial repercussions for all residents of the State. Furthermore, the stream water quality can be compared with USEPA recommended criteria, and meeting these criteria may well prove financially, as well as ethically, wise.

At the request of watershed residents, in 2002, Juniata College began a detailed study of water quality and nutrient loading in the Spruce Creek and Warriors Mark Run watersheds. This is the critical, often overlooked, first step to improving water quality. Before anything can be "fixed"(or for that matter, knowing whether it needs to be "fixed"), the problem must be defined. Then solutions can be directed to the unique idiosyncrasies of the specific problem.

Although initially funded through Juniata College and gifts from local residents, this study has subsequently received funding through the U.S. Department of the Interior and the PaDEP’s Growing Greener program through a grant to the Huntingdon County Conservation District.

For more information on local water quality issues, watershed stream designations, and the Chesapeake Bay Agreement, please follow the links below.

Chesepeake Bay Foundation

Chesepeake Bay Agreement

Chesepeake Bay Agreement Summary

USEPA Nutrient Criteria for Regional Rivers and Streams

Pennsylvania Water Quality Standards (Chapter 93)

List of Natural Reproducing Trout Streams in PA

Stream Quality and Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL)