Friday, August 17, 2018

DEP: West Nile Virus Mosquito Spraying Set For Schuylkill County Aug. 20

The Department of Environmental Protection’s West Nile Virus Program announced it will conduct a mosquito control operation to reduce high populations of mosquitoes on Monday, August 20 in the City of Pottsville, Schuylkill County.
Residential and recreational areas in the city will be sprayed for adult mosquitoes.
Truck-mounted, Ultra Low Volume (ULV) spray equipment will be utilized to spray Duet at a rate of 1.0 oz/acre. This product is designed to provide quick, effective control of adult mosquito populations. The spraying will begin late in the evening.
Weather conditions and other unexpected events (such as lowered mosquito populations) could delay or cancel this spray operation. The rain date for this application is Tuesday, August 21, 2018.
Other Spraying Events
Other upcoming spraying events are listed on the West Nile Virus Program homepage (lower right) or Click Here to check on spraying in other parts of the state.
Certain mosquito species carry the West Nile virus, which can cause humans to contract West Nile encephalitis, an infection that can result in an inflammation of the brain. According to the Department of Health, all residents in areas where virus activity has been identified are at risk of contracting West Nile encephalitis.
Individuals can take a number of precautionary measures around their homes to help eliminate mosquito-breeding areas, including:
-- Dispose of cans, buckets, plastic containers, ceramic pots, or similar containers that hold water.
-- Properly dispose of discarded tires that can collect water. Stagnant water is where most mosquitoes breed.
-- Drill holes in the bottom of outdoor recycling containers.
-- Have clogged roof gutters cleaned every year as the leaves from surrounding trees have a tendency to plug drains.
-- Turn over plastic wading pools when not in use.
-- Turn over wheelbarrows and don't let water stagnate in birdbaths.
-- Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish.
-- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools not in use and remove any water that may collect on pool covers.
If a resident has stagnant pools of water on their property, they can buy Bti (short for Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies israelensis) products at lawn and garden, outdoor supply, home improvement and other stores. This naturally occurring bacterium kills mosquito larvae, but is safe for people, pets, aquatic life and plants.
Additionally, these simple precautions can prevent mosquito bites, particularly for people who are most at risk:
-- Make sure screens fit tightly over doors and windows to keep mosquitoes out of homes.
-- Consider wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks when outdoors, particularly when mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, or in areas known for having large numbers of mosquitoes.
-- When possible, reduce outdoor exposure at dawn and dusk during peak mosquito periods, usually April through October.
-- Use insect repellents according to the manufacturer's instructions. An effective repellent will contain DEET, picardin, or lemon eucalyptus oil. Consult with a pediatrician or family physician for questions about the use of repellent on children, as repellent is not recommended for children under the age of two months.
For more information about West Nile virus and the state's surveillance and control program, please visit the West Nile Virus website.

Help Wanted: PA Environmental Council Watershed Outreach Manager

The PA Environmental Council is seeking qualified candidates to fill the position of Program Manager for Watershed Outreach who promotes and advocates for improved water quality across the Commonwealth in partnership with local watershed associations.
Click Here for all the details.  The deadline for applications is September 7.
For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the PA Environmental Council website, visit the PEC Blog, follow PEC on Twitter or Like PEC on Facebook.  Visit PEC’s Audio Room for the latest podcasts.  Click Here to receive regular updates from PEC.

Gov. Wolf Issues Disaster Proclamation Due To Recent Flooding, Will Seek Federal Aid

Gov. Tom Wolf Friday signed a proclamation of disaster emergency for the Commonwealth in response to a series of severe rain storms over the past week that caused flash flooding and ensuing damage to homes and businesses throughout much of north and central portions of the state.
Gov. Wolf has personally toured communities hit hard by the storms in Schuylkill, Bradford and Delaware counties.
“Pennsylvanians in portions of the state hardest hit by heavy rains and subsequent flooding need to know that the state is doing all that it can to help and for that reason I am signing this disaster declaration,” Gov. Wolf said. “This allows the state to seek federal funding for damages and frees up the red tape that can be associated with procuring necessary supplies and services during emergency clean-up.
“Touring these flooded areas and speaking with those affected only confirmed my decision that we need this declaration to enlist all possible help.”
The proclamation is a necessary step in order to ask for a federal disaster declaration through the Federal Emergency Management Agency if damages meet the federal threshold criteria.
“Over the past few days, Gov. Wolf and I have heard firsthand the stories of these survivors and I am amazed by their resilience,” said PEMA Director Rick Flinn. “At the same time, I know that some people have been hit with flooding more than once this summer, and we’re committed to doing everything we can to help them.”
It is important to note that the proclamation does not restrict vehicular travel on commonwealth roads, but motorists in areas impacted by flooding are encouraged to allow extra time for travel if roads have not yet been opened.
The proclamation authorizes state agencies to use all available resources and personnel, as necessary, to cope with the magnitude and severity of this emergency situation. The time-consuming bidding and contract procedures, as well as other formalities normally prescribed by law, are waived for the duration of the proclamation.
In addition, the proclamation authorizes the Department of Transportation to waive regulations related to drivers of commercial vehicles in order to ensure the timely movement of commodities, particularly food.
It also provides consumer protections against price gouging by prohibiting companies from charging a price for consumer goods or services that exceeds 20 percent of the average price that the consumer goods or services were sold for in the seven days preceding the effective date of the governor’s proclamation.  
“As the clean-up continues, Pennsylvanians need to know that my Administration is doing everything it can to help those suffering from this devastating weather emergency,” Gov. Wolf said.
Click Here for a copy of the disaster declaration.
(Photo: New Albany, Bradford County.)
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Emma Creek Restoration Project Reduced Flood Damage, Sediment & Nutrient Pollution In Huntingdon County

The Emma Creek Restoration Project on Huntingdon Farm owned by John and Kathryn Dawes in Alexandria, Huntingdon County is another example where green infrastructure not only reduced flood damage, but also the pollution that comes with stormwater.
After three straight days of rain this week, the Emma Creek Project successfully channeled stormwater to the middle of the stream and onto connected floodplain areas that were constructed as part of the project.
Reconnecting the creek to its floodplain involved removing legacy sediments on either side of the stream that had formed steep dirt banks.  These banks were not only a tremendous source of sediment washing down stream, they prevented flood water from spreading out naturally.
The banks were regraded and planted with a stream buffer, natural structures were installed to redirect water flow to the center of the stream channel and to protect the new stream banks.  Sharp bends in the stream were softened into curves to improve the flow of water.
Since Huntingdon Farm is a working cattle farm, cattle access to the stream was restricted to specific crossings and additional fencing was installed to keep livestock out of the stream.
In addition to the other environmental benefits of the project, the Emma Creek restoration is also improving water quality.  
On Wednesday, students from Juniata College found young of the year fish in the stream despite the torrents of water.  They were at the Farm assessing the quality of the water for the Fish and Boat Commission’s Unassessed Waters Initiative.
As built, the project involved restoration at total of about 2,500 feet of stream on about 6 acres.  
It was funded in part by the Growing Greener Program and developed with the help of several partners-- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Partners for Fish and Wildlife, Foundation for California University, The Trust For Tomorrow and Blue Acres, LLC.
The Emma Creek Project, installed in 2013, is only one of a series of best management practices on Huntingdon Farm over the last few years, which in 2016 was recognized with an Environmental Stewardship Award.
The award is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the National Cattlemen’s Foundation, and is presented to farmers and ranchers who demonstrate a commitment to protecting the farm and ranch land in their care.
The Future Is Green… Infrastructure
Communities and the state have started to rely more and more on green infrastructure for cheaper, more cost effective ways to deal with critical water pollution and flooding problems faced by the Commonwealth.
And once installed, green infrastructure like restored floodplains and wetlands, forest buffers, infiltration areas and rain gardens become more effective because they are living things, growing practices, not cement and cinder block structures.
Philadelphia, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, as well as Lycoming, Monroe and York counties and groups of communities like in the Wyoming Valley have already turned to green infrastructure with its multiple benefits to meet water quality goals with a single investment.
Pennsylvania’s initiative to develop the state’s Phase III Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan covering half the state is focused on developing county by county list of green infrastructure policies and practices needed to fulfill the state’s Chesapeake Bay obligations.
To learn more about green infrastructure, read Meeting The Challenge Of Keeping Pennsylvania Clean, Green And Growing.
(Photo: Emma Creek during last week’s rain. Restoration project on Emma Creek.)
[Note: John Dawes serves as Executive Director of the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds.]
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PA Resources Council ReuseFest Set For Sept. 8 In Pittsburgh

The PA Resources Council and its partners will hold its Fall ReuseFest September 8 at the UPMC St. Margaret parking lot at 815 Freeport Road in Pittsburgh from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
This one-day event will give individuals the opportunity to drop off items for reuse by local nonprofit groups.
Gently used items like clothing, household goods, furniture, medical supplies, garden tools, books can be dropped off as well as wheelchairs, crutches, shower seats, gently used furniture, blankets, bath towels, garden tools/equipment, books, records, jewelry, antiques and much more.
All materials donated will be reused in some fashion, whether resold, repurposed or given to those in need in our region and around the world.
ReuseFest is presented by the PA Resources Council in association with UPMC.
For a complete list of materials accepted, visit PRC’s Fall ReuseFest webpage or call 412-773-7156.
For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the PA Resources Council website.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates, follow PRC on Twitter or Like them on Facebook.  Click Here for PRC’s Events Calendar.  Click Here to support their work.
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DEP Posts 55 Pages Of Permit Actions In Aug. 18 PA Bulletin

The Department of Environmental Protection published 55 pages of public notices related to proposed and final permit and approval/ disapproval actions in the August 18 PA Bulletin - pages 5035 to 5090.
Sign Up For DEP’s eNotice: Did you know DEP can send you email notices of permit applications submitted in your community?  Notice of new technical guidance documents and regulations? All through its eNotice system. Click Here to sign up.

New Safe Drinking Water Fee Increases Now In Effect

The Environmental Quality Board published notice of final Safe Drinking Water regulation changes and fee increases in the August 18 PA Bulletin (page 4974).
The final fees will generate approximately $7.5 million annually and will account for nearly 50 percent of the program’s state funding. The fees will augment the $7.7 million in funding currently coming from the state’s General Fund.
The final fees use population served by water systems as basis for assessing the fees but will be phased in over the next year.
By increasing fees, DEP hopes to hire up to 33 additional staff in the Safe Drinking Water Program to address major deficiencies in the program identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in December of 2016.
EPA is monitoring DEP's progress closely in addressing the deficiencies in the program.
DEP had been giving EPA quarterly updates, and has now shifted to updates every 6 months starting in January of this year on its progress.  DEP has not heard much at all back from EPA as a result of the updates. DEP believes they are making good progress.
DEP started hiring new staff in March and has 13 of the 17 field inspector positions filled in anticipation of the fee revenue.
The goal is for the new staff to significantly increase the number of water system inspections done by the agency, in response to the primary concern raised in EPA's December 2016 deficiency letter.
The final regulation also makes other changes to the Safe Drinking Water Program, including to provisions related to the lead and copper requirements for drinking water, provisions for general permits to simplify permitting and other changes.
The regulations were adopted as final by the Board in April.  For more information and copies of additional background documents, visit the Environmental Quality Board webpage.
For more information on the program, visit DEP’s Bureau of Safe Drinking Water webpage.
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