The Department of Environmental Protection Friday asked each of the 41 County Conservation Districts in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed in Pennsylvania for a Yes or No to DEP’s request they conduct farm inspections to determine compliance with Pennsylvania’s on-farm environmental regulations.
“We recognize that for the Chesapeake Bay strategy to succeed, we have to focus on local water quality as our primary concern,” said Acting DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Our goal is that partnerships at the local and state level will directly translate into improving water quality at home, and in the bay, while meeting the federal Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) requirements.”
Working with the conservation districts will help the Commonwealth identify opportunities and challenges to improving local water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, while crediting those farmers and landowners who are doing their part to minimize agriculture-related runoff into local streams and rivers.
“The information we collect will help direct where resources are needed most to achieve our goals,” McDonnell said.
As part of its oversight of DEP’s activities, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has established an expectation that DEP will conduct inspections of 10 percent of the farms in the watershed annually.
A letter from DEP to each conservation district in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed asks districts to decide if it will participate and conduct agricultural inspections in coordination with DEP.
DEP provides funding for participating districts to support the trained technicians who would conduct the inspections.
Currently, conservation districts who coordinate with DEP perform educational visits on selected farms.
This modification enhances the role of conservation district staff to conduct farm inspections to assure that farmers have completed Nutrient Management /Manure Management Plans and Agricultural Erosion and Sediment Control Plans, as required by current regulations.
For more information, please visit DEP’s Chesapeake Bay Strategy webpage.
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