Wednesday, November 30, 2016

DEP Welcomes Precipitation, But Drought Conditions Remain Unchanged

Following a meeting Wednesday of the Commonwealth Drought Task Force, the Department of Environmental Protection announced no changes in county drought declarations, despite recent precipitation.
Conditions will continue to be monitored, with drought declarations reassessed when the task force meets again in two weeks.
With persistent dry conditions, groundwater levels and stream flows have been affected.
“While some streamflow has increased from the precipitation in the past 24 hours, long-term benefits to groundwater are uncertain, as groundwater levels often lag behind streamflow increases,” said DEP Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “We’ll continue monitoring daily for two more weeks before determining whether drought declaration changes are warranted.”
Four counties - Carbon, Lehigh, Monroe, and Northampton - were put on drought warning status on November 3. Thirty counties were put on drought watch status.
Precipitation departure is one measurement—along with groundwater level, streamflow, and soil moisture—that DEP uses to determine drought status.
In the 34 counties under watch and warning status, precipitation currently ranges from about 3 inches to almost 8 inches below average normals over the past 90 days.
Forecasts call for some continued precipitation over the next two weeks.
Counties on drought watch are Adams, Bedford, Berks, Bucks, Centre, Chester, Clinton, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Luzerne, Mifflin, Montgomery, Northumberland, Perry, Philadelphia, Pike, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Union, Wayne, and York Counties.
Citizens are encouraged to reduce their nonessential water use by 5 percent.
A drought emergency, which requires a proclamation from the Governor, has not been declared for any county. An emergency calls for mandatory restrictions on nonessential water use to protect water supplies as well as public health and safety.
The DEP has not issued any mandatory water restrictions.
Drought watch and warning declarations in late fall/early winter, while not common, have occurred several times in the past decade, in 2011, 2010, and 2008.
The Drought Task Force will meet next on December 16.
DEP suggests several steps citizens can take to voluntarily reduce their water use:
-- Run water only when necessary. Don’t let the faucet run while brushing your teeth or shaving. -- Shorten the amount of time you let the water run to warm up before you shower. Use a bucket to catch the water and then reuse it to water your plants.
-- Run the dishwasher and washing machine only with full loads.
-- Check for household leaks. A leaking toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water each day.
-- Replace older appliances with high-efficiency, front-loading models that use about 30 percent less water and 40 to 50 percent less energy.
-- Install low-flow plumbing fixtures and aerators on faucets.
DEP also offers other water conservation recommendations and water audit procedures for commercial and industrial users, such as food processors, hotels and educational institutions.
These recommendations and additional drought monitoring information are available on DEP’s Drought Information webpage.
Water Released From NY Reservoir For First Time To Deal With Susquehanna Drought

Western PA Conservancy Now Accepting Watershed Mini Grant Applications

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is now accepting proposals for the Watershed Mini Grant Program, which provides assistance to the region’s grassroots watershed groups in Western Pennsylvania.  Applications are due December 30.
Applicants from Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Blair, Bucks, Butler, Cambria, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Dauphin, Elk, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Indiana, Jefferson, Juniata, Lawrence, Mercer, McKean, Potter, Tioga, Venango, Washington and Westmoreland counties are welcome
The Watershed Mini Grants cover expenses in three areas:
-- Water Quality Monitoring ($3,000 limit);
-- Organizational Promotion and Outreach ($2,000 limit); and
-- Restoration Projects ($3,000 limit).
Funding for the program is provided by the Dominion Foundation.
Click Here for all the details and to apply.  Questions should be directed to Kelly Horrell at WPC's Watershed Conservation office by sending email to: or call 724-471-7202 ext. 5100.
More information is available on programs, initiatives and special events at the Western PA Conservancy website.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates from the Conservancy, Like them on Facebook, Follow them on Twitter, add them to your Circle on Google+, join them on Instagram, visit the Conservancy’s YouTube Channel or add them to your network on Linkedin.
(Photo: Kettle Creek, Potter County, Trout Unlimited Project.)

Keep PA Beautiful: Handicapped Accessible Playground Restored By Grant In Dauphin County

Possibility Place Playground in Lower Paxton Township, Dauphin County, was built in 2006 by community members as a place where children of all physical abilities could come together to play.
Since then, the playground has become the go-to place for recreation, birthday celebrations and special sports team events.
It’s no wonder that when the Rotary Club of Colonial Park Foundation applied to Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful for a Fresh Paint Days PA Grant to renew a mural, garden boxes, climbing wall, benches, a boat house and more it was awarded with pleasure.
The restoration was timed to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the playground’s construction, bringing together many of the same people.
The playground is the only 100 percent handicapped accessible playground in Dauphin County and was the first fully-accessible playground in the Commonwealth.
“We would like to thank Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful for their financial support to help us keep the playground beautiful,” said Janis Creason (photo), Coordinator for the Colonial Park Rotary Club Foundation.
“KPB is thrilled to be a part of the Possibility Place Playground restoration where children and adults of all abilities are able to play and exercise side-by-side,” said Shannon Reiter, President of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful. “It’s so inspirational to see what can be accomplished when community members come together for a common cause,”
“The transformations are a visible reminder of the pride that people have for the places they live. Through our partnership with Behr and The Home Depot we are honored to be a part of  these community revitalization efforts,” added Reiter.
Each year, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, in partnership with The Home Depot and a paint retailer, awards eight community groups with paint and painting supplies enabling them to renew a community structure in need into something beautiful.
Click Here for a complete list of Fresh Paint Days Grant recipients.
For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful website.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates from KPB, Like them on Facebook, Follow on Twitter, Discover them on Pinterest and visit their YouTube Channel.
Also visit the Illegal Dump Free PA website for more ideas on how to clean up communities and keep them clean and KPB’s new Electronics Waste website.
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Help Wanted: Keep PA Beautiful Enforcement Support Program Coordinator

Vote Now! Help Fund The Sept. 11th National Memorial Trail With Your Vote

Voting is now open for the NRG Retail Charitable Foundation’s NRG Gives competition to award 3 charities $115,000 in grant funds-- first place receives $100,000, second place $10,000, and third place $5,000.  Click Here to vote now and often through December 9.
The Community Foundation for the Alleghenies is one of the three charities competing for votes this year to help fund the September 11th National Memorial Trail.
The 1,300 mile trail symbolizes the resiliency and character of America by linking the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Somerset County.
Click Here to vote now and often through December 9.

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Announces Winners Of 2016 Photo Contest

The Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Wednesday announced the winners of its 2016 Photo Contest in 5 different categories--
-- Scenic Views And Wild Landscapes: First Place: Hegla Berta, Second: Lorianne Zaleski, Honorable Mention: Michael Kurman;
-- Wild Avians: First Place: Mitchell Pruitt, Second: Jack Kraft, Honorable Mention: Fred Zahradnik
-- Native Wild Flora: First Place: Elizabeth Brensinger, Second: Chuck Border, Honorable Mention: Megan Raab
-- Native Wild Fauna: First Place: Michael Kurman (photo), Second (Tie): Christine Claytor, Lori Cerretti, Honorable Mention: Elizabeth Brensinger
-- Macro Photography: First Place: Megan Raab, Second: Scott Allen, Honorable Mention: Christine Claytor.
Click Here to see all the winning photographs.
The 2,500-acre Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Berks County is the world’s first refuge for birds of prey and is open to the public year-round by trail-fee or membership, which in turn supports the nonprofit organization’s raptor conservation mission and local-to-global research, training, and education programs.
For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary or call 610-756-6961.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates from the Sanctuary, Like them on Facebook, Follow on Twitter, visit them on Flickr, be part of their Google+ Circle and visit their YouTube Channel.

Get Outdoors Poconos McMichael Creek Preserve Hike Dec. 18 In Monroe County

The Brodhead Creek Watershed Association and the Pohoqualine Fish Association will host a rare hike through the McMichael Creek Preserve on December 18 from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. in Monroe County.
Carol Hillestad will lead a 2.5-mile out-and-back hike along McMichael Creek. Difficulty is easy-to-moderate with some bridges, wet places and short lengths of boardwalk.
The trail is open, easy for the first half mile (it gets rockier later), and hugs the creek. The water is shallow after months of drought, but moss-covered rocks, duck weed and sphagnum moss abound.
Even the waterfalls were made with preservation in mind. Made of logs and concrete, dams create churning falls that pump oxygen into the creek and form deep pools that trout love, shaded and cooled by rhododendrons and hemlocks.
Where the bank overhangs the creek, the fish zip and coast and hover – flickering shapes of sunlight and cold water sure to delight hikers.
Meet at the parking area off Route 715 in Chestnuthill Township, directly across from Idlewood Drive. From the Wawa at the intersection of routes 209 and 715 in Brodheadsville, go north on Route 715 nine-tenths of a mile.
The entrance to parking area is on the right and will be marked with a BWA event sign. If you come to Cottontail Lane, you’ve gone two-tenths of a mile too far. Trailhead GPS: 40.935586, -75.392238
The hike is free, but registration is required.  The hike series is administered by Brodhead Watershed Association and supported by a grant from the William Penn Foundation.
To register or for more information, call 570-839-1120 or 570-629-2727 or send email to:  
For information about this and other hikes organized by the Brodhead Creek Watershed Association and its partners in the Northeast, visit the Get Outdoors Poconos webpage.
More information on the programs, initiatives and other upcoming events is available by visiting the Brodhead Creek Watershed Association website.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates from the Association.

Susquehanna River Basin Commission Considers $97K In Penalties Against Natural Gas Power Plants Dec. 8

The Susquehanna River Basin Commission is scheduled to hold its quarterly business meeting December 8 starting at 9 a.m., at Loews Annapolis Hotel, Point Lookout Room in Powerhouse Building, 126 West Street, Annapolis, Md. 21401. The meeting is open to the public.
The Commissioners will act on several agenda items, including 27 project applications (two projects involve into-basin diversions); a resolution urging the President and U.S. Congress to provide financial support to the national Groundwater and Streamflow Information Program; approval of contracts and agreements which SRBC proposes to enter into; and notice for Montage Mountain Resorts, LP to appear and show cause before the Commission.
Also on the agenda are proposed settlement agreements involving $97,000 in penalties related to three Panda Fund natural gas power plants-- the Hummel Plant, a coal to gas plant under construction in Snyder County, and the recently commissioned Patriot Plant in Lycoming County and the Liberty Plant in Bradford County
              The proposed settlement agreement for the Patriot Plant includes a penalty of $44,250 for the use of unapproved water sources during construction and exceeding daily water withdrawals during commissioning from its approved public water supply source.
              The proposed settlement agreement for the Liberty Plant includes a penalty of $30,000 for exceeding water withdrawals from an unapproved groundwater source and approved public water supply source during construction and commissioning.
               The Hummel Station Plant proposed settlement agreement includes a penalty of $22,750 for use of unapproved water sources during construction.
SRBC staff will provide an informational presentation on work performed to date in developing a Basin-wide framework for drought forecasting and planning, an initiative focused on coping with drought in the Chesapeake Bay region, in support of the National Integrated Drought Information System.
Opportunities for public comment on project applications were previously provided and will not be accepted at the meeting. However, the Commissioners may accept general public comments at the conclusion of the meeting.
SRBC’s guidelines for quarterly business meetings include:
-- Attendees must sign-in and show photo identification.
-- Signage, posters, banners or other display media will be permitted only in designated areas.
-- The press will be permitted to set up and use video and recording devices in a designated area. 
-- The public will be permitted to use small, hand-held devices that remain in their possession and are used in a non-disruptive manner.
To view the complete agenda with the list of project applications and the full set of meeting guidelines, visit SRBC’s Public Participation Center webpage.

Penn State Named Silver Bicycle Friendly University, Joining 6 Other PA Schools

The League of American Bicyclists has recognized Penn State's University Park campus with a silver Bicycle Friendly University award, moving up from bronze last year.
With this designation, Penn State is one of more than 150 bicycle-friendly colleges and universities across the country.
Other Pennsylvania campuses now on the BFU list are: Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham University, Dickinson College, Montgomery County Community College, Temple University, the University of Pennsylvania
With the announcement of 51 new and renewing BFUs from 25 states, Penn State is among a cutting-edge group of colleges and universities across the United States transforming their campuses and the communities around them.
There are now 164 BFUs in 44 states and Washington, D.C.
“In its fifth year, we’ve seen the Bicycle Friendly University program’s momentum continue to grow and reach even more campuses across the country,” says programs director Bill Nesper. “We applaud this round of BFUs for raising the standard and being innovative in making bicycling a safe, convenient, and enjoyable option for students, staff, and visitors alike.”
Previously recognized with a bronze BFU award in 2012, Penn State has since completed a number of projects to improve bicycling on the University Park campus, including the installation of bicycle repair stations and additional bicycle travel lanes, as well as increased covered bicycle parking and development of bicycle education programs.
The University also hired Cecily Zhu, its first alternative transportation program coordinator, who focuses exclusively on alternatives to single-occupancy vehicle travel, such as bicycling, carshare, rideshare, and use of mass transit.
“The silver BFU designation is a wonderful acknowledgement of the ongoing collaborative efforts of many at Penn State to make this a more bicycle-friendly campus, and of Penn State’s larger efforts to support sustainable transportation options for our students, faculty, and staff,” says Rob DeMayo, director of Transportation Services at Penn State. “We’re very proud of everyone’s work to enhance and promote bicycling on campus, and excited to explore new ways to do so in the years to come.”
Moving forward, Penn State will have access to a variety of tools and technical assistance from the League to become even more bicycle-friendly. W
hen colleges and universities invest in bicycling, great things happen: For example, the campus community decreases its carbon footprint, bicyclists enjoy improved health, and bicycling encourages a more connected community.
The League of American Bicyclists is leading the movement to create a "Bicycle Friendly America." The League is committed to defining standards and sharing best practices to engage diverse communities and build a voice for change.
Learn more about the League’s Bicycle Friendly University Program.
For more information about bicycling on Penn State’s campus, please visit the Biking page at the Transportation Services website or send email to:  

FirstEnergy: Bruce Mansfield Coal Plant Residuals To Be Used For Reclamation In WV

FirstEnergy Corp. Tuesday announced its Bruce Mansfield coal-fired power plant in Shippingport, Beaver County will ship coal combustion residuals (CCRs) for reclamation of a site owned by the Marshall County Coal Company in Moundsville, W.Va.
The CCR materials will be placed at the site beginning in early December.
"Selection of this site means that 100 percent of the coal combustion residuals created at the Bruce Mansfield Plant will now be sustainably recycled or beneficially reused," said Don Moul, senior vice president, Fossil Operations and Environmental.  "After thorough consideration, the company determined that this option provided the most environmentally sustainable and cost-effective solution."
Approximately 80 percent of Bruce Mansfield Plant's CCRs will be used for mine reclamation, while the remainder will continue to be recycled into drywall by National Gypsum at its production facility located in Shippingport.
The Moundsville site is already permitted by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to beneficially reuse CCRs.  
FirstEnergy plans to ship approximately four to five barges of material per day 77 miles to the facility, eliminating the need for truck transportation over local roads.  
Prior to shipment, excess moisture will be removed from the CCR materials at the Mansfield plant's newly constructed, $260 million dewatering facility.  
FirstEnergy currently places a portion of its CCR materials at the Little Blue Run disposal facility, which the company will no longer use beyond December 31, 2016.
CCRs are created through the combustion of coal and during the scrubbing process at coal-fired electricity generating plants, and are designated as a non-hazardous material by state and federal environmental protection authorities.  
West Virginia supports their beneficial reuse, and thousands of acres of former mines across the state have been successfully reclaimed under WV DEP's oversight.
FirstEnergy Finds New Site For Bruce Mansfield Ash Disposal

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