Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Watershed Groups, Municipal Employees See Benefit Of Working Together To Address Water Quality In South Mountain Region

Watershed groups across the South Mountain region of Adams, Cumberland, Franklin, and York counties have made great strides in protecting and improving water quality, keeping riparian areas as green space, and raising awareness about the importance of our rivers and streams.
When these groups work collaboratively with their local municipalities, the impact of these partnerships magnifies the results and ensures longevity of the projects.
That is why 40 volunteers from watershed groups, municipalities, and others who live and work in the South Mountain region gathered together on March 16 for a free half-day workshop organized by Capital RC&D and the South Mountain Partnership.
Workshop presenters included Brenda Sieglitz of the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership; Dr. Elizabeth George from the Johnston Run Revitalization Project; Brook Lenker from the Yellow Breeches Watershed Association; Pat Naugle from the Watershed Alliance of Adams County; and Bill Ferris of the Big Spring Watershed Association.
When a municipality is making any decision, even if it doesn’t seem to have a tie to water quality, Dr. George recommended: “They should ask themselves if the decision will move them closer to health or not, both for people and for the environment. They should be thinking on how to stitch their community back together to allow folks to bike or walk on errands, to school, and elsewhere. This will help them discover that healthy lifestyles include environmental wellness.”
Watershed groups can help their municipalities to this by: “Introduce their watershed projects to council members and the municipal manager, go to public meetings regularly to update them on what you’re doing, and involve local business,” said George. “Help them think about planning for the long term (10-20 years, not 3 years).”
Brook Lenker says another role for watershed groups is to help their local municipalities with Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) requirements.
“MS4 municipalities are required to incorporate public education and public participation into their MS4 programs. Much of what watershed organizations do already can count, like stream cleanups, water quality monitoring, the creation and distribution of pamphlets and other outreach materials, among others. Watershed groups and municipalities can work together to share resources, saving each time and money in the long-run.”
This workshop is one of the first steps the South Mountain Partnership is taking in a multi-year effort to highlight the water resource challenges and opportunities taking place within the region.
They plan to partner with Capital RC&D again in later 2019/early 2020 on other workshops and outreach.
Funding for this project came from a grant via the Chesapeake Bay Funders Network, Chesapeake Bay Trust, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Chesapeake Bay Program.
Thanks also to the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds, which awarded Capital RC&D a Convening Grant for this workshop.
For more information on programs, initiatives and other upcoming events, visit the South Mountain Partnership and Capital RC&D websites.

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