Tuesday, September 13, 2016

29 Of 42 Conservation Districts In Chesapeake Bay Watershed To Do Farm Inspections

Conservation districts in 29 of the 42 Pennsylvania counties in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed have applied successfully to conduct farm inspections aimed at reducing agricultural runoff into local streams and rivers and ultimately, the Bay.
As a result, these districts will receive funding to support Bay technician staff from the Department of Environmental Protection.
Two of the five counties the Chesapeake Bay Foundation-PA said Tuesday are critical to meeting Pennsylvania’s water pollution reduction commitments are not participating in the program-- Franklin and York counties.
Nine conservation districts failed to meet application criteria or have declined to participate.
The remaining three counties in the Chesapeake Bay watershed have such a small portion of the watershed they have not received funding for a Bay technician in the past. Farms in the Bay watershed in these counties will be covered by DEP personnel.
“We’re pleased that 70 percent of the conservation districts are on board to protect the health of our local waterways and help ensure that Pennsylvania meets its federal mandate to reduce the pollutants it sends into Chesapeake Bay,” said DEP Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Reducing farm runoff is key to restoring water quality both locally in Pennsylvania and in the Bay, and we hope that, in time, all of the districts will be able to participate.”
Fully half of Pennsylvania drains into the Chesapeake Bay. In 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency mandated that Pennsylvania reduce the amount of nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment it sends into the Chesapeake Bay by 2025.
Sources include wastewater treatment systems, urban stormwater, and agricultural runoff. Bank erosion carries sediment and manure carries nitrogen and phosphorus into streams and rivers.
In order to help get the Commonwealth back on track to meet the mandated reduction goals, 10 percent of Pennsylvania farms in the Bay watershed will be inspected annually to ensure they have written plans for manure or nutrient management and erosion control.
The participating conservation districts will be inspecting 50 farms per full-time person funded in each county. The goal is to start these inspections by the beginning of October. DEP Regional staff have already started inspections in some of the counties that have chosen not to participate.
County conservation districts participating in the farm inspection program are: Adams, Bedford, Berks, Blair, Cambria, Centre, Chester, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Cumberland, Fulton, Huntingdon, Indiana (covered in agreement with Cambria), Juniata, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lycoming, Mifflin, Montour, Potter, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Union and Wyoming counties.
In a related action Monday, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation delivered 6,200 signatures to DEP urging the agency to list the Lower Susquehanna River as impaired for aquatic life.
Related Stories:
Op-Ed: Here’s How PA Can Get Smarter About Cleaning Up Our Rivers & Streams

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