The Crap Catching Cupola

Throughout the Susquehanna River watershed, aging sewer systems discharge enormous
volumes of raw or poorly treated sewage, which eventually flow into the Chesapeake
Bay. Unless local, state, and federal lawmakers invest in prevention and cleanup, the Susquehanna will remain among the nation’s dirtiest rivers and more and more of the Chesapeake Bay will become a dead zone.
Summary from American Rivers’ Web Site


The Crap Catching Cupola
By: Joe Leonardi

The preposterous proposal of damming the Susquehanna River has been floated by Congressman Paul Kanjorski for years. On Earth Day one man

stood on the Market Street Bridge to Show his passion for stopping this obscenely ridiculous idea. During my run for Congress I wrote an editorial and filmed an internet commercial concerning damming the river. Recently I wrote a letter to the editor praising Don Williams and calling out a local talk show host who claims to be an environmentalist but supports the dam project. This dam project needs to be stopped, spread the word and help save the most endangered river in America.

Thank you.

Here is the link to the commercial, and yes that is what it looks like floating in the river:

First the letter and then the editorial:

Dear Editor,

Susquehanna River advocate Don Williams, during his radio appearance on Friday April 20th, as expected was right on the money concerning the proposed inflatable dam project. I was busy with patients and didn’t get a chance to call The Sue Henry Show, but all in my office were tuned in and not a one could understand the practical purpose of visiting the Grim Reaper upon our free flowing river.

I was surprised that the local, paternal paragon of the environmental movement, WILK’s Kevin Lynn, didn’t call in to support Don. Hang on a minute, I forgot — it seems that Kevin, who constantly cajoles that worldwide warming is going to eradicate Earth, is a strong supporter of the the fact-defying fecal farce. You would think that the gung-ho, global Gore supporter would embrace our Susquehanna Sentinel and help Mr. Williams save our regal river from the sludge stopping, destruction delivering, pumped-up pollution pocket. However, in classic do as I say not as I do liberal language, the worldly wordsmith props up the pungent project of his pet politician. Thus, Mr. Lynn’s convenient crusading for the endangered environment falls fast by the wayside in an effort to ensure the development of the crap catching cupola.

The verbose, venomous, carbon cursing curmudgeon, who several times per week drives his smog spewing automobile from Harvey’s Lake to Pittston Township to Scranton and back to Harvey’s lake, defends the damaging dam. How could the hypocritical harbinger, who wants us all to change the way we live, but chooses not to reduce his own carbon footprint by living closer to his employment endeavors, not help defeat the dam? Would any other exemplary environmentalist, insanely support the halting of mother natures cleansing perpetual motion of our sullied Susquehanna? Of course not!

I still wonder what color the sky will be in this inflatable fantasy world. Hopefully strong determination, intelligence and common sense will ensure we never find out.

Joe Leonardi


I’m not sure where the idea of damming the Susquehanna originated, but it is an idea that must cease to exist. The following are but a few of my many reasons for wanting to terminate this dam project.

1. Basic science. Rivers cleanse themselves through perpetual motion. Why in the name of science would anyone halt the essential, healing motion of a polluted river?

2. The Butler Mine Tunnel. From the EPA Web site “In 1979, an oily discharge coming from the tunnel created an oil slick on the river.”

“The oil contamination was then traced to the illegal dumping of hazardous chemicals into a four-inch borehole located 3½ miles from the outlet of the tunnel. The borehole was found to drain into the Butler Mine system.” Interestingly, there was another discharge in 1985, approximately one year after the discharge monitors were deemed no longer necessary and removed.

Does illegal dumping continue today? Possibly. Commercials still air from time to time asking people not to dump into bore holes. Obviously there is no predicting when or if there will be another discharge, but if there is, how fast will the contaminants settle in a motionless river?

Do you really want your children exposed to a “potential human risk” recreating in this contaminated lake?

3. Combined Sewer Outflows. According to the American Rivers web site there are “16 sewage outflows that pour untreated human waste into the very reach of the river where the current would pool behind the dam.”

Now we have untreated human waste and contaminants from the Butler Mine Tunnel! Who will be held responsible if someone gets sick?

4. Potential flooding. I testified at the hearing at King’s college. We were assured that in the event of flooding the dam could be deflated in 20 minutes. I’m not sure about you, but I’m glad I don’t live downstream. Can you imagine a 450 acre, 4½ mile long lake rushing over your community? For the sake of argument, what happens if the river crest is underestimated? What will happen to upstream communities? We reside in a flood zone. The wrong answer could make us forget Agnes ever happened.

5. Damming the river is not necessary. I am astonished to be told, that unless we dam the river we cannot utilize it. Well I’m sorry but that is just plain old hogwash. A free-flowing river can be just as vital a community centerpiece as any lake.

6. A tourist mecca? We need to honestly examine what we are being sold. With our proximity to the Poconos, the shore, Atlantic City, the Finger Lakes, New York and Philadelphia are we to believe that a polluted, man-made, mini-lake is going to become the tourist destination of the northeast?

7. Political will. I’ve heard that this may create the political will to clean the river. Well, that is flat out the sorriest statement I have ever heard about past and current leaders. The free-flowing Susquehanna River is our heritage and plain and simple it must be saved.

Joe Leonardi



Filed under American Rivers, Congressman, Inflatable Dam, Kevin Lynn, NEPA, Northeast Pennsylvania, Paul Kanjorski, Sue Henry, Susquehanna River, Wilkes-Barre

7 responses to “The Crap Catching Cupola

  1. Joe:

    Thanks for the kind words and link to my website. This whole dam approval process is now getting down and politically dirty. I have been advised, in writing, that neither the DEP nor the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have planned to schedule a public hearing before they make their decision to approve or deny the application to build the darn dam. If you recall, the initial plans were conveniently changed a week or so before the public hearing that was held on 5/1/06. We first learned of the changes that evening. There have been multiple revisions since that date, including many between January and the final submission date of 3/26/07. Yet, the PA Department of Environmental Protection does not think it is important that the citizens of this commonwealth be given an opportunity to review and publicly comment on the full & final plans submitted. Instead…they’ll make the decision for us. Well, I’ve got news for them; not while I’m breathing on this planet. PA’s Constitution has an amendment that reads like this: “The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.”

    They seem to have forgotten that the Susquehanna River is a public natural resource. In other words, WE OWN IT!

    This river advocate is going to Harrisburg. Stay tuned to my website.

  2. Hi Don,

    We have to stay vigilant on this one. I know the Times Leader was in receipt of my letter, they called to verify, but to date haven’t published. Maybe after the election.

    Please keep me informed.


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  4. Anonymous

    where have you been?

  5. Pingback: The Crap Catching Cupoloa is Kaput « The Independent, Conservative, Common Sense Oasis

  6. shirley

    we went camping near northumberland last week. After the storm I was shocked to see what looked like sewage in the river and brown foam. I took some pictures with my camera. My family was napping at the time and did not believe me that a major river could be so filthy. Thanks for your article.

  7. tom

    Since 2006 the wyoming valley sewer authority has yet to get a handle on discharge from the city of Pittston. They are constantly sucking out debris from the crumbling combined system which restricts contaminated water from reaching the obsolete treatment facility. No one will speak of it, but we did get new street lights and a paved main street.
    Thomas J. Wharton

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