Wednesday, November 21, 2018

PA Chesapeake Bay Watershed Planning Steering Committee Takes No Action On Stormwater Recommendations

On November 20, the PA Chesapeake Bay Watershed Planning Steering Committee heard a presentation and discussed recommendations by the Stormwater Workgroup, but took no formal action.
Among the points of discussion was how to deal with needed nutrient and sediment pollution reductions when the existing system for regulating stormwater covers only 25 percent of the land area in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed  and accounts for only 4 percent of the nitrogen load that must be reduced.
These compelling numbers point to a need to consider options to expand the area affected by regulation and/or achieve the needed reductions from agriculture or other sectors.
Also attracting a lot of discussion, but no real disagreement, was the need to expand existing stormwater permits and MS4 areas to multi-municipal or county-level geographic areas to avoid the problem of every borough, city and township developing their own stormwater pollution reduction plans.
Timing was also an issue. If the scope and requirements of the existing stormwater regulatory programs were to be changed, how would that happen when communities have existing, approved MS4 plans, for example, they are now implementing?
DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell likened the problem to doing maintenance on an airplane while it was flying.
-- Require 1,000 industrial facilities covered by individual or PAG-03 General Permits to implement stormwater pollution reductions needed by MS4 communities and other sectors;
-- DEP develop a county or regional permitting approach for future MS4 permits;
-- Require subsequent MS4 permits to implement green infrastructure to both reduce nutrients and sediment, along with control the rate and volume of water with more opportunities for county or watershed solutions;
-- Provide incentives for establishing new riparian forest buffers outside urban areas in the MS4 permit process;
-- Credit the upgrade of existing Chapter 102 best management practices toward required pollution reductions for a proposed development site;
-- PennVEST should create a special financing program in which counties could establish a revolving fund to provide low interest loans to municipalities for BMP easements;
-- Authorize county and local governments to grant tax reductions to landowners who provide easements on their property to municipalities for stormwater management;
-- Enforce the requirements in the Stormwater Management Act (Act 167);
-- Discussion of requiring stormwater pollution reductions from developed land not just urbanized areas expanding the area to be regulated; and
-- Pass legislation to regulate fertilizer applications-- Senate Bill 792.
Click Here for a copy of the recommendations.  Click Here for a copy of the presentation.
The next meeting of the Steering Committee is on December 17 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. in Room 105 of the Rachel Carson Building in Harrisburg.  Click Here to register to attend by webinar.
For more information, visit the PA Chesapeake Bay Watershed Planning Steering Committee  webpage.
(Photo: NOT a recommended stormwater pollution reduction practice.)
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