Tuesday, May 9, 2017

EPA: PA Must Identify Significant New Funding Needed To Meet Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Targets

David McGuigan, EPA Region III Associate Director Of Water Protection, told PA’s Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Planning Steering Committee Monday EPA expects the state to identify what he called the “significant new financial resources” needed to implement the Phase III Watershed Plans to meet Chesapeake Bay cleanup requirements.
McGuigan outline a series of other requirements Pennsylvania will have to meet from EPA’s final April 27 expectations document.
McGuigan said Pennsylvania is responsible for reducing an additional 34 million pounds of nitrogen in the next nine years to meet its cleanup milestone.  The state, however, is only about 10 percent of the way towards meeting its 2025 goal and 35 percent below its 2015 target.
EPA has 5 major expectations--
-- Significant Additional Financial Resources To Carry Out The Plan: Pennsylvania must demonstrate its has the staff, partnerships and financial resources needed to fully implement the practices, treatments and technologies necessary to achieve the reductions.
-- Prioritize Agricultural Practices/Provide Dedicated Resources: Have a dedicated and targeted annual state cost-share program with a significant increase in resources focused on implementation of priority agricultural conservation practices.  EPA pointed to the proposal by Pennsylvania’s Chesapeake Bay Commission members to create a dedicated Clean Water Fund supported by a water use fee as one option.
-- PA Has Serious Deficits In Reductions From Stormwater: Without programs, initiatives and resources to reduce pollution from urban/suburban stormwater in addition to reductions from agricultural, Pennsylvania cannot meet its nutrient and sediment reduction goals.  EPA noted Pennsylvania has “serious deficits” in attaining load reductions in agriculture and stormwater.
-- Local Collaboration/Policy Changes Needed To Implement The Plan: EPA expects the Plans to include local planning goals, demonstrated collaboration, document program, policy legislative and regulatory changes needed to meet the goal.
-- More Frequent Accountability Reporting: As long as Pennsylvania remains far off track for nitrogen and phosphorus reductions, EPA expects more frequent and detailed reporting on the state’s progress.
A copy of the EPA expectations document is available online.
Consequences Of Not Meeting Milestones
EPA again outlined potential action if Pennsylvania does not meet its Chesapeake Bay cleanup milestone--
-- EPA may continue targeted federal enforcement and compliance efforts;
-- EPA may direct federal funding to identified priorities to achieve needed reductions;
-- EPA may adopt “finer scale wasteload and load allocations” in Pennsylvania;
-- EPA may require additional reductions of loadings from point sources;
-- EPA may promulgate its own standards for nitrogen and phosphorus water quality standards.
Other Actions
The Steering Committee approved its Game Plan for Success which outlines the steps the Committee will take to develop the Phase III Watershed Implementation Plans and a communications and public outreach plan to involve local stakeholders.
“We have a heavy lift in meeting our Chesapeake Bay cleanup goals, but we are building the Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan from the ground up,” said Dana Aunkst, Deputy Secretary of Water Programs.  “We have to make sure we get buy-in from everyone at the local level because cleaning up our streams and rivers benefits everyone in Pennsylvania."
June 5 Kickoff/Listening Session
Part of the outreach plan is a June 5 Chesapeake Bay Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan Kickoff and Listening Session to be held at the Radisson Hotel in Camp Hill, across the river from Harrisburg, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The purpose of this open public session is to gather ideas on how to meet the Chesapeake Bay cleanup milestone in each of these areas: urban and suburban stormwater, wastewater, agriculture, forestry, funding and local planning and area goals.
Also running concurrent with the June listening session will be a 30-day written comment period running with the Listening Session to give other people who could not attend in person to submit their suggestions.
Briefing Schedule
Since Pennsylvania will not receive its revised nutrient and sediment targets until September or October, Steering Committee members have asked for a briefing on a series of issues (page 2) so they are up to speed before their work begins in earnest.
The Committee plans monthly meetings in July, August and September to discuss issues like the Midpoint Assessment, the role of the Conowingo Dam in holding back sediment from the Bay, monitoring trends, progress so far and research into new best management practices.
The Steering Committee will coordinate the work of at least 6 workgroups each with 10 or so members to come up with the watershed implementation plan strategy.  Their work we begin after the revised reduction targets are received from EPA in the Fall.
For more information and available handouts, visit the PA Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Planning Steering Committee webpage.
For more on Pennsylvania’s Chesapeake Bay initiatives, visit DEP’s Chesapeake Bay Office webpage.
Related Stories:
EPA Will Develop Its Own Chesapeake Bay Nutrient, Sediment Reduction Goals For PA

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