Thursday, January 31, 2019

Brodhead Watershed Assn: Feb. 9: Kids, Explore The H2Olympics; Feb. 16 Pasold Farm Hike In Monroe County

The Brodhead Watershed Association will host two upcoming events in Monroe County for kids and the whole family.
Water Wiser Kids Explore The H2Olympics
On February 9 kids and their grownups take part in the H2Olympics at Brodhead Creek Heritage Center in Analomink from 12:30 to 2:00.
An environmental educator will guide elementary-age children as they work alone and in teams at action stations.
At each station, kids will explore different properties of water. How does water carry things? Absorb things? Change things? How does water “hold together”? They’ll imagine what the water might do in each situation, then test their hypotheses, observe the results, and sketch what actually happens. Was the hypothesis correct? Why? Why not? What would change the result?
The Indoor H2Olympics brings out the natural scientist in every kid. Grownups may be surprised, too!
To register call 570-839-1120 or 570-629-2727 or send email to:
This program is part of the Water Wiser Kids Series sponsored by Brodhead Watershed Association, funded by a Dr. Claus Jordan Endowment Grant from Lehigh Valley Health Network Pocono Foundation.
Winter Hike At Pasold Farm
On February 16 find out what makes the trail loop at Pasold Farm in Barrett Township so special during the winter by joining naturalist Patti O’Keefe for a winter walk starting at 10:00 a.m.
The low, near-solstice sun paints the leafless trees and their lanky shadows gold and black. You see long views of the land, its folds and rises. The trail, newly widened, is wet after record-breaking rains.
Through woods on either side, you see elephant-sized boulders with lichen and ferns growing from every crevice, like crazy-big Chia pets. Many of them are slowly being split by white pine seedlings, their thread-like roots working into microscopic fissures, the finest of filaments able to crack ancient rock.
The spring that once served Pasold Farm is beautifully preserved, and there’s no risk of missing the spot, now that a hand-carved sign points the way. Water rises from among the roots of an old oak and is tamed in a square, man made pool.
Fly Fishing in America began on the Brodhead. It is still considered one of the finest trout streams in the world. Thanks to the people of Barrett Township who conserved this land, fishing this historic stream is open to all.
To register and get directions, Call 570-839-1120 or 570-629-2727; email
The hike is part of the Get Outdoors Poconos series administered by Brodhead Watershed Association and supported by a grant from the William Penn Foundation.
For more information on programs, initiatives and other upcoming events, visit the Brodhead Watershed Association website.

House Environmental Committee Holds Feb. 5 Informational "State Of The State" Meeting

On January 31, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler), Majority Chair of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, announced the Committee will hold a "State Of The State" informational meeting on February 5.
Invited as guests are Associated Petroleum Industries of PA, Marcellus Shale Coalition, Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Gov. Wolf presents his FY 2019-20 budget request at Noon the same day.
The meeting will be held in Room 205 of the Ryan Building starting at 10:00. Committee meetings are usually webcast through the House Republican website.
Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) serves as Majority Chair of the House Environmental Committee and can be contacted by calling 717-783-1707 or sending email to: Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by calling 717-787-7647 or sending email to:

DEP Working With Villanova University On Update To Stormwater BMP Manual

The Department of Environmental Protection is working with Villanova University to update and modernize its 13-year-old Stormwater Best Management Practices Manual.
Ramez Ziadeh, DEP’s Executive Deputy Secretary for Programs, mentioned the update at  the January 16 meeting of the PA Chesapeake Bay Watershed Planning Steering Committee.  Reducing pollution from stormwater is a key part of what Pennsylvania must do to meet its Chesapeake Bay cleanup obligations.
Since December of 2006, the Stormwater BMP Manual has served as a technical reference guide containing planning concepts and design standards that developers, communities and project planners can use to satisfy Pennsylvania’s stormwater management requirements.
DEP has contracted with Villanova University and a team headed by Dr. Robert Traver, Director of  Villanova’s Urban Stormwater Partnership and faculty researcher of Villanova’s  Center for Resilient Water Systems who is currently working to provide the Department of Environmental Protection with a draft updated Stormwater BMP Manual.
The first goal of the update is to first evaluate the existing BMP’s in the Manual in terms of the latest science and in-field experience on their effectiveness, water pollution reduction potential and ongoing maintenance and costs.
The second is to organize the BMPs into a menu of practices emphasizing first in a hierarchy those practices that use a natural systems approach in their design and function while at the same time are the most effective at achieving stormwater flow and rate objectives as well as water pollution reductions.
Nearly 20 years of experience with building and operating green infrastructure projects under the Growing Greener Program and recent research presented to the PA Chesapeake Bay Watershed Planning Steering Committee demonstrates stormwater practices based on natural system functions are more effective at reducing flooding and water pollution.
Third, the Villanova team will recommend new best management practices developed or perfected since the 2006 Manual was adopted to achieve stormwater and pollution reduction objectives.
DEP hopes to have a draft Manual available for public review during the third quarter of this year and would look to formalize it as a technical guidance document.
The agency will be looking to engage a broad set of stakeholders in the review of the draft Manual, including the Water Resources Advisory Committee, to provide input into the practices and the proposed prioritization of BMP.
Click Here to review a copy of the existing Stormwater BMP Manual.
Related Stories:
Villanova's Dr. Robert Traver Receives National Environmental & Water Resources Institute Lifetime Achievement Award
Gov. Wolf Proposes A $4.5 Billion, 4-Year Restore Pennsylvania Community & Environmental Infrastructure Investment Program

Octorara High Students Explore Local History, Learn To Protect Fresh Water In Chester County

Octorara High School students spent three days last fall experiencing and learning about their local parts of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, with the help of the Stroud Water Research Center. They also discovered the impacts their choices make to promote its health and integrity.
The group of 13 students, and their teacher of animal and plant science Helena Martin, participated in a free program led by Stroud Water Research Center.
The Center provides education programs and professional development for schools and teachers in the Susquehanna River Watershed and across the country, along with the Sultana Education Foundation, which inspires people in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed to preserve and restore America’s largest estuary.
Octorara High School specializes in providing students with career and technical education.
On the first day, Chris Cerino, vice president of SEF, introduced the students to the rich history of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, and Tara Muenz, Stroud Water Research Center’s assistant director of education, prepared them for the following two days of outdoor educational adventures to engage them in the watershed.
On day two, the students headed to the Stroud Center to learn about water quality and how to perform surveys and assessments to better understand the health of a local waterway.
Recent rain had made White Clay Creek too deep for the students to collect macroinvertebrates, but they still experienced a tour of the laboratories learning about careers in science and topics in freshwater ecology, including watersheds, stream orders, chemistries, and how to enter their data into the Water Quality App™.
By day three, the skies had cleared, and the students and staff set off in canoes on the Octoraro Reservoir to experience the fun and beauty this freshwater resource had to offer. For some, it was their first time canoeing.
They also learned more about their place and role in the watershed. Activities included seine fishing and aquatic insect collection, wildlife observation in the marsh, and water quality monitoring.
“Seeing the wildlife and litter while learning how the marshes filter pollution and their importance, really stuck with me and I’m hoping with the students too,” said Ms. Martin.
“We wanted the students to have fun learning about the local history, environment, and to ultimately discover how we as humans impact water quality through our choices,” said Muenz.
One student said, “This is so much fun, and we did a lot of laughing and saw a lot of cool animals.”
The program was made possible by a cooperative agreement between the U.S. Department of the Interior, the National Park Service, Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, and Sultana Education Foundation.
The partnership will continue over the next year so that more students and teachers from Octorara High School and the surrounding area can enjoy similar experiences.
For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the Stroud Water Research Center website, Click Here to subscribe to UpStream.  Click Here to subscribe to Stroud’s Educator newsletter.  Click Here to become a Friend Of Stroud Research,  Like them on Facebook, Follow on Twitter, include them in your Circle on Google+ and visit their YouTube Channel.

(Reprinted from the Stroud Water Research Center newsletter. Click Here to sign up for your own copy.)

Gov. Wolf Proposes A $4.5 Billion, 4-Year Restore Pennsylvania Community & Environmental Infrastructure Investment Program

On January 31, Gov. Tom Wolf proposed a $4.5 billion, 4-year Restore Pennsylvania initiative to fund high-impact community and environmental infrastructure projects that he said will help catapult Pennsylvania ahead of every state in the country in terms of technology, development and infrastructure.
Restore Pennsylvania has 5 priority areas-- High Speed Internet Access; Storm Preparedness and Disaster Recovery; Downstream Manufacturing, Business Development and Energy Infrastructure; Demolition, Revitalization and Renewal; and Transportation Capital Projects.
It would be funded by monetizing a severance tax on natural gas production in Pennsylvania that would generate $300 million a year, over and above the existing Act 13 drilling impact fee.
“Over the past four years my administration has worked hard to improve our infrastructure and build strong, stable communities across the Commonwealth,” said Gov. Wolf. “We’ve made progress, but we still have more work to do.”
“It is far past time that Pennsylvanians stop allowing our Commonwealth to be the only state losing out on the opportunity to reinvest in our communities,” said Gov. Wolf. “And as long as that is allowed to continue – my vision of a restored Pennsylvania that is ready to compete in the 21st century economy will never become reality.”
The Governor said this proposal is separate from the budget because it is not intended to make up for funding deficits in the regular budget.
Senators John Yudichak (D-Luzerne), Minority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, and Tom Killion (R-Delaware) will co-sponsor the implementing legislation in the Senate.
Representatives Jake Wheatley (D-Allegheny) and Thomas Murt (R-Montgomery) will co-sponsor implementing legislation in the House.
“Restore Pennsylvania is a bold and innovative plan to inject billions of dollars into infrastructure projects across the Commonwealth through a fair severance tax,” said Sen. John Yudichak. “I applaud Governor Wolf for working in a bipartisan fashion to craft a plan that will benefit all Pennsylvanians.”
"We can no longer afford to lose billions of dollars by not having a sensible severance tax on drillers,” said Sen. Tom Killion. “I thank Governor Wolf for his strong leadership on this issue. I am proud to work with Senator Yudichak on passing the governor's proposal in the senate. Let's finally get this done for Pennsylvania's families."
“As the Democratic chairman of the House Finance Committee, I appreciate the difficulty behind fairly and effectively raising revenue,” said Rep. Jake Wheatley. “This is a reasonable severance tax, with exciting new ideas on how to maximize our investment. That’s why I’m pleased to be one of the prime sponsors of this legislation, along with looking forward to working with the governor and my Republican colleagues to finally get this done.”
“It is time that we faced our responsibilities honestly and tapped our vast natural gas resources in a way that will allow us to invest in Pennsylvania’s future success,” Rep. Thomas Murt said. “Restore Pennsylvania will help us upgrade transportation infrastructure, fight blight, and address contamination issues like lead and PFAS in my district and throughout the Commonwealth.”
Environmental Elements
The environmental elements include funding for flood damage reduction and floodplain restoration projects, stormwater pollution reduction to help communities comply with the MS4 requirements, helping families recover from disasters, brownfield and contaminated site cleanup, funding to preserve open space, address the State Park maintenance backlog, for farmland preservation, abandoned mine cleanup and creating new recreation opportunities, improving energy efficiency, installing combined heat and power and micro-grid system, improving dirt and gravel roads and for transit capital projects.
This initiative represents the first new funding to support local environmental restoration projects since the Growing Greener Program was enacted in 1999 under Gov. Ridge and had its funding expanded in 2002 under Gov. Schweiker.
With this proposal, Gov. Wolf joins the Republican and Democratic governors of Maryland, New York and Virginia, upstream and downstream of Pennsylvania in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, who have already laid out extensive plans in their states to address critical water-related environmental funding issues.
Here are some highlights on the environment-related elements of the Restore Pennsylvania proposal--
-- Critical Flood Control Infrastructure: Last year was the wettest year on record in Pennsylvania, and modelling suggests that increased rain will continue.
Communities across the state were impacted by record-breaking rainfall, flash flooding and river flooding across the state, from Philadelphia in the east and Allegheny County in the west to Bradford and Columbia in the north and widespread devastation in Schuylkill, Lebanon, York and Lancaster Counties in Central Pennsylvania, among others.
A single storm in early August created more than $60 million in damage to transportation infrastructure alone in the middle of the state.
A Center for Rural Pennsylvania study done by Penn State in 2017 showed the frequency and duration of heavy precipitation events increased 71 percent from 1958 to 2013.
The devastation these natural disasters leave in their wake demonstrate all too clearly that Pennsylvania’s legacy infrastructure needs to be updated to handle changing weather and new development.
Many needed projects involve streambank restoration to restore flow and prevent future erosion.
Other projects will be for floodplain restoration, which allows stormwater to spread out and slow down, so it can be absorbed into the groundwater, rather than flooding over streambanks.
Additional critical flood control infrastructure includes dams, levees and flood walls.
Restore Pennsylvania will provide funding for flood prevention that will protect against severe weather and save homes and businesses in flood prone areas across the state. It will provide funding to help towns and cities prepare for flooding and severe weather, upgrade flood walls and levees, replace high-hazard dams, and conduct stream restoration and maintenance.
-- Helping Families Rebuild After Disasters: In the aftermath of severe storms and other disasters, homeowners who have in some cases lost everything need immediate assistance to begin to put their lives back together.
While Federal Emergency Management Agency funding is available to assist property owners recovering from events that have been declared a Major Disaster, and funding is available from the U.S. Small Business Administration for some smaller events, there is currently very limited help available for Pennsylvanians who experience catastrophic losses due to localized flooding or other severe weather events that were not declared a Major Disaster by the federal government.  
Restore Pennsylvania will establish a disaster relief trust fund to assist individuals who suffer losses that are not compensated by FEMA or other programs.
-- Stormwater Infrastructure: Across Pennsylvania, communities large and small are struggling to implement new federal requirements that they manage stormwater to prevent pollution from flowing into local streams and rivers.
Nearly 1,000 communities with municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4) are currently preparing to implement a Pollutant Reduction Plan to reduce discharges from their storm sewers into local waterways.  
While funding this new infrastructure is a challenge, it is also an opportunity to create local jobs to construct and maintain green infrastructure that captures stormwater where it falls while also beautifying downtowns with rain gardens, parks, and streetscape improvements.
Restore Pennsylvania will provide grants to municipalities moving forward with Pollutant Reduction Plans to help them implement creative solutions to comply with their stormwater mandates and transform their communities.
Additional state funding will reduce the need for new stormwater fees, which have proven unpopular where they have been proposed.
Additional incentives will be provided for communities that are working collaboratively with their neighbors to tackle the problem in the most efficient manner possible.
-- Brownfield Clean-Up: In communities across the state, underutilized and abandoned former industrial and commercial sites sit waiting for cleanup to unlock their potential as a catalyst for new manufacturing and economic development.
Frequently these sites have existing infrastructure, historic buildings and close proximity to transportation that make them attractive locations for redevelopment and reuse.
Revitalizing these locations improves the health and quality of life of our citizens and injects much-needed revenue into our local communities by returning once lifeless properties to the tax rolls.
Pennsylvania’s land recycling program has long been lauded as a national model for the successful cleanup of brownfields, with over 6,000 sites having been successfully cleaned up and returned to productive use.
With the long-anticipated phase out of the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax in 2016, which helped fund the program, there is now a need to identify funding to ensure that this critical work can continue.
Restore Pennsylvania will provide funding to ensure the continuation of Pennsylvania’s Brownfields program, ensuring that more sites can be returned to use for recreation, or returned to the tax rolls as commercial, residential, or industrial sites.
Restore Pennsylvania will increase resources for addressing blight by providing financial resources at the local level to establish land banks and acquire and demolish blighted buildings in order to create new development opportunities or provide new green space. The funding will be administered by entities established by the legislature as land banks or demolition funds.
-- Contaminant Remediation: In addition to remaining brownfields, many residential homes and neighborhoods still face issues with contaminants like lead and Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS).
Studies continue to find elevated lead levels in blood tests of Pennsylvania’s youngest residents, a result of Pennsylvania’s older housing stock, 70 percent of which was built before the 1978 ban on lead paint. Long-term exposure to lead paint can have devastating developmental consequences including lowered-IQ, memory problems, and other neurological and behavioral effects.
To help prevent the ongoing exposure of Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable populations, we must redouble our level of effort to remediate lead paint from homes throughout the Commonwealth.   
There have also been recent discoveries of PFAS contaminants in numerous communities across the Commonwealth, threatening the safety of residents’ drinking water. The cleanup costs associated with addressing these chemicals can be significant, and without the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund there are few funding options available at the state level.
Restore Pennsylvania will fund expanded efforts to remove lead and other contaminants from communities.
-- Green Infrastructure (Open Space, State Park Maintenance, Farmland Preservation, Pollution Reduction, Abandoned Mine Cleanup, New Recreation Opportunities): Pennsylvania has long recognized the need to invest to protect open space, address maintenance needs in state parks, preserve working farms, install farm best management practices, clean up abandoned mines and restore watersheds, provide funds for recreational trails and local parks, help communities address land use, and provide new and upgraded water and sewer systems.
These projects help create prosperous and sustainable communities, protect the environment, add quality of life value that attracts jobs, contribute to Pennsylvania’s outdoor recreation and tourism industries, and improve public health.
Moreover, the outdoor recreational opportunities provided by our state’s network of parks, trails, greenways, riverfronts and other open spaces are increasingly cited as an important factor in where residents decide to live and work, creating a major incentive to invest in creating these opportunities as a strategy to attract and retain the workforce that will power Pennsylvania’s economy tomorrow.
However, significant need continues to exist. Over 19,000 miles of streams and rivers do not meet federal and state water quality standards. Nearly 200,000 acres of abandoned mine land remain across 43 Pennsylvania counties.
More than 2,000 working farms remain on county waiting lists to be preserved. Over 200,000 orphaned and abandoned wells pollute our landscape.
There is a significant backlog of needed infrastructure work to fix deteriorating buildings, water and sewer treatment systems and trails and roads in the state parks and state forests.
The legislature in recent sessions has recognized the need to continue the success of prior initiatives to address these ongoing issues, but no consensus on a new source of funding has emerged.
Restore Pennsylvania will provide significant new funding to enable new environmental projects and new recreational opportunities across the state, including infrastructure and maintenance in state parks, creation and revitalization of new local parks, and funding for new hiking, biking and ATV trail projects.
-- Energy Infrastructure/Conservation: Pennsylvania has always been an energy powerhouse. Our coal fueled the industrial revolution, our power plants keep lights on throughout the northeast.
Over the past decade, Pennsylvania has emerged as a leading state in production of clean burning natural gas, and we currently outproduce every state but Texas.
The first decade of development has seen a rush to build wells and pipelines to take gas to markets where it can be used.
In the second decade, we need to focus on making sure we capture the benefits of this prolific resource in Pennsylvania to spur manufacturing and drive job creation in downstream industries.
Royal Dutch Shell is currently undertaking the largest development project that this commonwealth has ever seen in Beaver County northwest of Pittsburgh. This is the first major project of its kind in the United States built away from the Gulf Coast region in a generation.
When this ethane cracker plant opens early in the 2020s, it will produce millions of pounds of plastic pellets, the building blocks for everything from water bottles to airplane parts.
To realize the full potential of this massive investment, Pennsylvania needs to seize the opportunity to jump start advanced manufacturing facilities that will take the building blocks, and turn them into high value products, employing Pennsylvanians with well paid, family supporting jobs.
To prepare for this opportunity and assist existing manufacturers and businesses across the state to take advantage of the benefits of locally-produced natural gas to lower costs, reduce emissions, and power an advanced industrial revolution in Pennsylvania.
Restore Pennsylvania will provide funding for infrastructure that helps build manufacturing facilities and other downstream businesses for the natural gas produced in Pennsylvania while helping businesses and individuals use more of Pennsylvania’s natural gas in their homes, creating jobs, lowering costs, and improving energy efficiency.
Restore Pennsylvania will provide funding to develop pad-ready locations in prime locations and areas ripe for development with an emphasis on downstream manufacturers and support for businesses.
This funding will expand the extremely successful Business in Our Sites program which empowers communities and economic development partners to attract expanding businesses by building an inventory of ready sites.
Approved projects can use the funding for any site development activities required to make the site shovel-ready. Sites can be previously utilized property or undeveloped property that is planned and zoned for development including former or underutilized industrial, commercial, military, mining, railroad, or institutional sites or buildings.
Restore Pennsylvania will provide increased spending flexibility to ensure that more communities and businesses across the state have access to low-cost, clean-burning natural gas and will also provide grants to help downstream businesses install combined heat and power and micro-grid systems at existing or new facilities.
-- Transportation/Transit: Pennsylvania has roughly as many state-maintained road miles as New England, New York, and New Jersey combined and keeping our large system in a state of good repair requires continued investment.
The American Society of Engineers’ 2018 “infrastructure report card” gives Pennsylvania a D+ rating for the quality of its roads and bridges and a D for transit.
A safe and reliable transportation network is essential for Pennsylvania residents, businesses, and visitors and improving and maintaining this extensive multimodal system requires stable, sufficient funding.
Restore Pennsylvania will provide funding for local road upgrades, create new flexible funding options for businesses that need local infrastructure upgrades to enable development projects, and multimodal and large-scale capital projects for transit.
Restore Pennsylvania will accelerate progress of projects to resurface, repave and repair four-digit roads and provide technical assistance and funding for dirt and gravel roads throughout the state.
Restore Pennsylvania will create a flexible funding tool to enable capacity upgrades needed to support development where TIIF funding is not available.
Restore Pennsylvania will support new capital projects at public transit capital projects throughout the state.
Click Here for a more detailed description of the entire Restore Pennsylvania initiative. Click Here for the Governor's announcement.
With this proposal, Gov. Wolf joins the Republican and Democratic governors of Maryland, New York and Virginia, upstream and downstream of Pennsylvania in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, who have already laid out extensive plans in their states to address critical water-related environmental funding issues.
Gov. Wolf will make his formal budget address to a joint session of the Senate and House on February 5.
House Republican Leaders issued this statement about Gov. Wolf's Restore Pennsylvania proposal-- "The governor's proposal includes three of the worst ways to grow an economy: taxing, borrowing and uncontrolled government spending.
“While improving Pennsylvania's aging infrastructure is a shared goal, it cannot come at the expense of the Commonwealth's economy and taxpayers.
“Unfortunately, the governor has not included the General Assembly in the development of this proposal. If he had, he would know that there are not enough votes to enact a new energy tax, borrow billions of dollars and spend monies on more government programs.”
[Note: In 2012, a Republican General Assembly and Governor authorized a $4.5 billion bond issue to pay back the federal government’s unemployment compensation trust fund securitized by fees paid by state businesses.]
Marcellus Shale Coalition president David Spigelmyer issued this statement--
“Pennsylvania’s tax on natural gas – the impact fee – generates hundreds of millions of dollars annually for critical infrastructure programs across the entire Commonwealth. This existing annual tax revenue, when combined with other business taxes paid by the industry as well as lease bonuses and royalties tied to natural gas development on state land, has provided nearly $5 billion in revenue since unconventional shale gas development began.
“Imposing additional energy taxes will cost consumers, hurt local jobs, especially among the building and labor trades, and negatively impact investment needed to safely produce clean and abundant energy that’s ushering in a new era of manufacturing growth.
“We’ll continue to work with leaders in Harrisburg on solutions to drive continued economic growth, environmental progress and a brighter future for the entire Commonwealth.”

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