Thursday, October 15, 2020

Draft Conowingo Dam Watershed Implementation Plan Calls For An Additional 6.41 Million Pounds Of Nitrogen Reductions In PA; Comment Period Open

draft Conowingo Dam Watershed Implementation Plan released for public review on October 14 shows Pennsylvania offers the best, most effective opportunities for reducing an additional 6.41 million pounds of nitrogen needed to make up for the fact the Conowingo Dam is no longer trapping nutrients and sediment before they can get into the Chesapeake Bay (page 36).
The Conowingo Dam reservoir is located just south of the Pennsylvania-Maryland border on the Susquehanna River, which then flows into the Chesapeake Bay.

New York and Maryland could effectively reduce nitrogen loads by 130,000 and 180,000 pounds respectively for a total 6.72 million pounds.

These reductions are over and above those each state must meet in their Phase II Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plans.

The draft Plan estimates the cost of the recommended strategy would be $53.3 million annually, with 93 percent of that cost-- $50.52 million annually--  in Pennsylvania through at least 2027.

These costs are over and above the estimated $324 million annual cost for implementing Pennsylvania's existing Phase III Chesapeake Bay Implementation Plan.  Read more here.

"The draft CWIP is intended to initiate discussion with the CWIP Steering Committee and stakeholders, providing the opportunity for feedback on the direction of the strategy, and guidance on adjustments and modifications as the CBP partnership initiates the implementation process.”

The draft Plan was developed by a coalition of groups and programs, including the Center for Watershed Protection, Chesapeake Bay Trust and the Chesapeake Conservancy, which partnered with the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program and a Steering Committee made up of representatives from the Chesapeake Bay Commission and each Chesapeake Bay watershed jurisdiction-- Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. 

Public Comments

Public comments are now being accepted on the draft Plan through December 21.  Comments should be sent to:

Process For Setting Caps

The tentative timeline for the draft Plan invites public comments and review of the Plan in 2020, with a final version of the Plan delivered in early 2021.

The draft Plan outlines what they believe are cost-effective best management practices and targets them geographically to the most efficient areas for nitrogen reductions.

Implementation would occur through the setting of milestones every two years.

In the case of Pennsylvania, that process includes outreach to counties within the existing framework of the county-based clean water planning effort.

Outreach to Pennsylvania counties on setting milestones and new county caps would start this fall.

Based on modeling showing the relative effectiveness of best management practices (BMPs) within the Susquehanna River Watershed, the draft Plan targets certain geographic areas for the best opportunities for nitrogen reductions to meet the draft Plan overall goal.

This modeling shows the best opportunities are in Pennsylvania which would reduce nitrogen by 6.41 million pounds-- 95 percent of the load reductions at a cost of $50.52 million annually-- 93 percent of the cost.

The target areas in Pennsylvania include all or parts of 34 of the 43 counties in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed area in the state: Adams, Berks, Blair, Bradford, Cameron, Centre, Chester, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Elk, Franklin, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lycoming, Luzerne, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Potter, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Wyoming and York. 

Core BMPs

The primary strategy in the draft Plan calls for additional restoration efforts in three core areas--

-- Natural Filters (wetland restoration and riparian forest buffers)

-- Sustainable Farm Practices (prescribed grazing and conservation tillage)

-- Nutrient Reduction Practices (nutrient management and manure Incorporation).

The draft Plan then identifies how many thousands of acres of each of 16 individual BMPs would have to be put in place to achieve the needed regulations (page 32).

In-water practices like dredging and reuse of dredged materials, and restoring submerged aquatic vegetation, oyster and other filter feeders were not part of the draft Plan.

"Such BMPs may be explored in subsequent versions of the CWIP and are not included in this draft, as additional information is needed to fully evaluate these innovative practices."

Click Here for a copy of the draft Plan and Plan FAQs.

PA Bay Plan Update

DEP’s Citizens Advisory Council is scheduled to meet on October 20 to hear an update on Pennsylvania’s efforts to clean up our rivers and streams to meet the Chesapeake Bay mandates.  Read more here.

PA Chesapeake Bay Plan

For more information on how Pennsylvania plans to meet its Chesapeake Bay cleanup obligations, visit DEP’s PA’s Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan webpage.   

Click Here for a summary of the steps the Plan recommends.

How Clean Is Your Stream?

DEP’s Interactive Report Viewer allows you to zoom in on your own stream or watershed to find out how clean your stream is or if it has impaired water quality using the latest information in the draft 2020 Water Quality Report.

Related Articles This Week:

-- PA Farm Bureau, 45 Other Hunting, Angler, Business, Environmental, Watershed Groups Urge Senate, House To Pass On-Farm Conservation Funding Bill This Year

-- Steinman Foundation: Largest Chesapeake Bay-Related Stream Restoration Project In Lancaster County Moves Forward In Little Conestoga Creek Watershed 

-- Op-Ed: Chesapeake Bay Foundation Suing EPA Will Benefit Pennsylvanians And Other Others Who Value Clean Water

-- Still Time To Register!  Virtual Chesapeake Bay Watershed Forum Oct. 29-30

-- Water Cooler Talk: Sustainable Agriculture Nutrient Recovery And Upcycling Webinar Oct. 28

Related Articles - Chesapeake Bay Restoration:

-- DEP Citizens Advisory Council Meets Oct. 20 To Hear Update On PA Chesapeake Bay Watershed Cleanup Efforts

-- New Poll Shows 90% Of PA Voters Want Senate, House Members To Address Environmental, Conservation Priorities, Provide More Funding For Critical Programs

-- Analysis: 2020 Is A Make Or Break Year For Environmental Funding

-- House Speaker Cutler: Republicans Will First Raid Dedicated Funds To Balance Budget In November

-- House Republicans Pass Bill To Freeze Funding For County Conservation Districts, Local Parks, Farm Conservation, Watershed Restoration Projects; Will Hurt Local Economies

-- House Republicans Moving Bill To Reallocate Keystone Fund, Damage Vitality Of PA’s Outdoor Economy

-- Analysis: Why Republican Freeze On Funding For Local Parks, Trails, Farm Conservation, Mine Reclamation, Recycling Is Bad For The Economy, Communities, The Environment

-- Senate Environmental Committee Puts Spotlight On Funding Needed To Implement PA Clean Water Plan At Chesapeake Bay Briefing

-- Sen. Yaw Introduces Bipartisan Bill Creating New Program To Pay For On-Farm Conservation Measures, If Funded And Passed Before Nov. 30

[Posted: October 15, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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