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Harveys Lake, Pennsylvania - Nonpoint Source Success Story

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Snapshotmap of Harveys Lake watershed

Located just northwest of Wilkes-Barre, Harveys Lake Watershed spans 3,629 acres in Luzerne County. The lake is th4 largest natural lake in Pennsylvania. The outflow of Harveys Lake forms Harveys Creek, which eventually discharges into the Susquehanna River at West Nanticoke. A number of studies and research conducted throughout the past fifty years have documented periodic algal blooms in Harveys Lake, the result of elevated nutrient levels, most notably in phosphorus, the primary nutrient limiting aquatic plant growth in the lake. Through a coordinated watershed approach, the community has already implemented controls that have reduced phosphorus loadings by 29%.


Beach area on Harveys Lake

Concerns over the water quality of the watershed prompted the Phase I Clean Lakes Diagnostic/Feasibility Study, conducted in 1993-94 with funding from EPA's Clean Lakes Program. In 2003, a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) analysis conducted by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) quantified the need for a 230 pound per year phosphorus reduction load.

Restoration and Management Plan

Angled stormwater grate

One of the goals of the Phase I study was to develop a Restoration and Management Plan to identify a series of cost-effective in-lake and watershed-based techniques to improve the water quality of Harveys Lake.  In 1996, the lake was also included on the state list of impaired waters, the 303(d) list, for nutrient and suspended solid impairments.

In order to initiate a long-term Restoration and Management for Harveys Lake, the Borough of Harveys Lake and the Harveys Lake Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) were awarded a number of nonpoint source grants by the DEP with funding obtained through the EPA through several NPS program Section 319 Clean Water Act grants.

Continuous Deflection Separation unit with vortex action to deflect inflow and filter out pollutants


The implementation of Best Management Practices (BMPs) have proven successful in a number of areas including: the completion of two streambank/shoreline stabilization projects, the removal of a 400 cubic yard gravel bar, the development and distribution of four educational brochures on nonpoint source pollution, the development of a GIS database on the Harveys Lake Watershed, and two years of in-lake and storm water quality monitoring.

In addition, funds were used to assist in the completion of an innovative project located in the Hemlock Gardens section of the watershed. This project involved the installation of a chamberbox BMP with litter collector to reduce the total phosphorus and total suspended solids loads that enter the lake from this particular section of the watershed.

These graphs provide a summary of the TSI values for Harveys Lake. TSI is a means of measuring in-lake biological productivity. They include data from Phase I study (1993), 2000, 2001, 2003, and 2004. The TSIs are for Secchi, Phosphorus, and Chlorophyll-a and are based on mean growing season (April through September) values. Since the Phase I study, there has been a slight increase in the Secchi TSI (i.e., decrease in water clarity). This slight increase may be reflective of more suspended material entering the lake via NPS pollution and/or higher amounts of algal biomass. No trend was apparent. Unlike secchi, the Phosphorus TSIs have experienced larger "swings" from year to year. Phosphorus TSIs in the current decade have been both lower and higher than the 1993 value, with no apparent, long-term trend. It should be noted that the 2004 Phosphorus TSI was lower than the Phase I TSI. This may indicate the beginning of an improvement of water quality as a result of the BMPs. Unlike both Secchi and Phosphorus, the Chlorophyll-a TSIs over the last four years have been consistently higher than the 1993 value. These elevated Chlorophyll-a TSI values do not closely correlate with the Phosphorus TSI values. This lack of agreement indicates complicating factors. For example, the general absence of open-water, large-bodied, herbivorous zooplankton, and mid-depth algal blooms, may be complicating possible improvements in water quality, (i.e., a decrease in the algal biomass). To conclude, based on the stormwater sampling data, we have documented a reduction in the TP and TSS loads as a results of the BMPs. These projects have contributed toward, but did not complete, compliance with the identified TMDL for Harveys Lake. However, these pollutant load reductions have yet to be translated into measurable in-lake water quality improvements.

As a result of implementing the two stabilization projects and the chamberbox BMP at Hemlock Gardens, an average of 66 pounds of phosphorus have been removed each year. The current measured reductions account for approximately 29% of the target set by the 2003 TMDL. To date, the EPA, through 319 funding has spent $259, 855 on the restoration of Harveys Lake and the shoreline BMP retrofits. With matching funds the total money spent was $362, 365.

Future BMPs are planned to further reduce phosphorus loadings to the lake. The Borough of Harveys Lake and the Harveys Lake EAC are pleased with the progress that has been made in the watershed and look forward to future improvements to achieve the water quality goals.

Mid-Atlantic Nonpoint Source Pollution Initiative

chamberbox and litter collector

EPA Region 3
Philadelphia, PA 19103
May 2005

For more information on nonpoint source pollution, TMDLs and restoration practices, please check out EPA's Region 3 Nonpoint Source Program web page.

Partnerships and Coordination
Contact Informationwater flowing through skimmer box

Fred Suffian (suffian.fred@epa.gov)
U.S. EPA Region 3
1650 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Barbara Lathrop (blathrop@state.pa.us)
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer
400 Market Street
PO Box 8555
Harrisburg, PA 17555

Fred S. Lubnow, Ph.D. (flubnow@princetonhydro.com)
Princeton Hydro, LLC Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer
1108 Old York Road, Suite 1
Ringoes, NJ 08551

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