Friday, May 26, 2017

DEP Publishes Draft PA Lake Erie Phosphorus Reduction Action Plan For Comment

The Department of Environmental Protection is now accepting comments on a draft PA Lake Erie Phosphorus Reduction Domestic Action Plan created to assist in the elimination of nutrient pollution in Lake Erie.  (formal notice)
The draft Plan was developed with the help of the PA Lake Erie Forum, a group of stakeholders in the Erie area interested in improving water quality.
The Commonwealth is one of eight United States state governments with coastline and contributing tributaries to the Great Lakes, and one of five states that shares jurisdictional responsibilities for water quality in the Lake Erie Basin.
In 1972, the United States and Canada signed the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement to provide a framework for the restoration, protection and management of the Great Lakes water resources shared between the countries.
The United States and Canadian provinces fully participate in this process to assure cooperative restoration success.
The GLWQA was amended and reaffirmed in 2012 to include a process to develop new phosphorus reduction targets for Lake Erie, which were adopted formally in February 2016, to address over-nutrification problems identified within Lake Erie and develop United States and Canadian Plans for phosphorus reductions in each country.
The overall plan calls for a phosphorous reduction of 40 percent over the 2008 baseline year loadings.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is developing the United States Plan that will coordinate and integrate each United States state-written Plan. The United States Plan also will include those actions to be completed by each United States Federal agency with programs that affect Lake Erie water quality.
The United States and Canada are bound by the GLWQA to complete these Plans by February 2018, and the Plans will be included as components of the Lake Erie Lakewide Action and Management Plan to be completed by the end of 2018.
The draft Plan developed by DEP demonstrates Pennsylvania’s portion of the Lake Erie Basin has likely already met the 40 percent reduction goal from the 2008 baseline as a result of the ongoing programs and DEP and its local partners (page 12).
In addition, the draft Plan also concludes “the loading estimations suggest that any additional large-scale phosphorus reductions in some Pennsylvania tributaries may affect the biologic productivity of these stream systems.” (page 12)
The draft Plan makes a number of recommendations, including additional documentation that Pennsylvania has already met the 40 percent reduction goal and supporting continued implementation of the water quality improvement programs-- farm conservation, MS4 Stormwater Management and point source permitting requirements-- that have been successful in reducing phosphorous.
A copy of the draft Plan is available online.
Comments on the draft Plan are due June 26.
Commentators are encouraged to submit comments using the Department's online eComment system. Written comments should be submitted by email to or by mail to the Department of Environmental Protection, Policy Office, Rachel Carson State Office Building, P.O. Box 2063, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2063.
For more information, to submit comments and read a copy of the draft Plan, visit DEP’s eComment webpage.

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