Friday, June 21, 2019

EPA Says PA’s Chesapeake Bay Watershed Plan Comes Up Short, Lacks Commitments To Resources To Carry It Out

On June 21, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency posted its evaluation of Pennsylvania draft Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan saying it comes up 36 percent short in achieving its nitrogen reduction goal.
In addition, EPA said the Plan lacks the necessary commitments to finding the funding and enacting the legislation needed to actually implement the Plan.
EPA said--
-- “According to the simulations performed using the CBP partnership’s Phase 6 suite of modeling tools, Pennsylvania’s draft Phase III WIP achieves approximately 64 percent of the nitrogen and 76 percent of the phosphorus Phase III WIP planning targets overall.
-- “The draft Phase III WIP generally refers to these initiatives as proposals, recommendations, and things under consideration. Pennsylvania’s draft Phase III WIP lacks implementation details and programmatic commitments on the initiatives identified for achieving nutrient reductions, including securing the necessary funding and staff, enacting needed legislation, refining programs, and developing necessary regulatory changes.
--”The Phase III WIP efforts should be focused on identifying programs and opportunities that will help Pennsylvania achieve its targets. EPA recognizes that many programmatic expectations, assumptions and practices have been developed and agreed upon by the CBP partnership; however, Pennsylvania is not limited to implementing those agreed upon approaches, and there may be more effective or efficient opportunities for Pennsylvania to achieve its targets.
“EPA understands that making significant progress to reduce nutrient losses in a watershed requires local solutions tailored to local resource needs and opportunities. EPA is available to assist and encourages Pennsylvania to identify more state- specific practices, programs and opportunities for its final Phase III WIP.”
EPA gave DEP high marks for its stakeholder and public involvement in developing the draft Plan.
Click Here for a copy of EPA’s 10-page comments.
Similar concerns have been expressed by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and other groups about the draft Plan.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation-PA Executive Director Harry Campbell said this about EPA's comments--
“Pennsylvania has a lot of work ahead to get back on track toward its clean water commitment. Getting there requires a complete and funded Clean Water Blueprint.
“It is not acceptable that the draft Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan only achieves just two-thirds of the nitrogen reduction goal and is underfunded by nearly $257 million.
“The Commonwealth must show leadership and make the necessary investments to empower the conservation community, farmers, and communities, so they can implement a complete Blueprint and provide the clean water that Pennsylvanians deserve.”
PA Bay Steering Committee
Similar concerns have been expressed by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and other groups about the draft Plan.
At a PA Chesapeake Bay Watershed Planning Steering Committee Friday, DEP released a summary of the public comments received on the Plan.  Copies of the comments themselves are available on DEP’s eComment webpage.
DEP’s draft schedule for finalizing the plan by the August 9 submission deadline includes drafting a final Watershed Plan by July 1, having the co-chairs of the Steering Committee meet on July 31 to review the draft final Plan and an August 8 Steering Committee meeting.
County Plans
DEP said the initial 4 counties that have already developed nutrient reduction plans-- Adams, Franklin, Lancaster and York-- are moving ahead to implement their plans.
The Tier 2 counties-- Bedford, Centre, Cumberland and Lebanon-- are scheduled to start work on their plans about September 1.
Sediment Reductions
DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said Chesapeake Bay Partners are talking about including sediment reductions in the final Watershed Implementation Plans, when the drafts focused on reducing nutrient pollution.
He expressed the concern a change that big has not gone through public participation and then suddenly appears in the final Plan.
He noted discussions are still underway.
For more information and available handouts, visit the PA Chesapeake Bay Watershed Planning Steering Committee webpage.

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