Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Over 200 Attend DEP Webinar On County-Level Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Planning Process

DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell and Lisa Schaefter, County Commissioners Association of PA, Tuesday hosted a webinar attended by over 200 participants to invite county-level participation in the development of Pennsylvania’s Phase 3 Chesapeake Bay Implementation Plan.
In May, the Committee approved a draft county clean water toolbox that outlines a suggested county-based planning process for identifying clean water issues and tools they could use to address those problems.  (Click Here for more.)
The draft toolbox will be field tested in four counties this summer-- Adams, Franklin, Lancaster and York.
The draft timeline for the pilot county planning process outlines a 5 month schedule for developing a county-based pollution reduction action plan to be ready in October, with support from DEP staff and other partners.
Once refined, the county planning process will be shared with the other 39 counties in Pennsylvania’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
A letter, however, will be going out to the other 39 counties in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed in Pennsylvania inviting and encouraging them-- not requiring them-- to participate in the county-level clean water planning process.
DEP made it clear they view the county planning process as an opportunity to show local leadership on a critical issue.  That leadership, they said, could come from county government itself, like a conservation district or planning commission, or nonprofit, watershed, local government or other groups within a county.
Once the county clean water planning process is refined based on the field experience this summer, counties will receive a template for completing a county-level plan to meet nutrient and sediment reduction goals in their county.
The template will be pre-loaded with as much data as is now available showing the potential reductions that can be achieved by the most cost-effective best management practices for their county.
DEP said they will be providing counties with “support teams” based out of its regional offices to help counties through the planning process.
With respect to providing additional funding for planning and later implementation, DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said everyone acknowledges right out of the gate there are not enough resources to do everything that needs to be done to meet Pennsylvania’s Chesapeake Bay cleanup obligations.
He said good planning is critical to having real numbers on what the needs are in order to have a conversation with the Legislature, federal government, foundations and others about how the state is going to get the financial resources it needs.
“The alternative is nothing any of us want to contemplate,” said McDonnell.
He pointed to the list of backstop and direct steps the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could take if Pennsylvania fails to meet its obligations.  Those measures were outlined in a June letter to the Commonwealth from EPA.
Dan Zimmerman, Manger of Warwick Township in Lancaster County, provided an overview of the kinds of local planning and projects they have undertaken to deal with stormwater pollution issues.
DEP has a County Planning Process webpage set aside to post information related to the process in the near future.
To learn more about Pennsylvania’s efforts, including the latest from the Steering Committee, visit the Phase 3 Chesapeake Bay Plan webpage.  Click Here to watch a recording of the webinar.
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