Thursday, January 30, 2020

PA Chesapeake Bay Phase III WIP State Team Hears Implementation Off To Fast Start

On January 30, the Pennsylvania Chesapeake Bay Phase III WIP State Team heard presentations from many of the major stakeholders taking action to implement Pennsylvania’s Clean Water Plan for the Bay Watershed saying they are getting off to a fast start.
Presentations by DEP, DCNR, the Department of Agriculture, State Conservation Commission the PA Infrastructure Investment Authority and the York County Planning Commission highlighted just some of the more than two dozen actions being taken.
Progress on implementation was detailed during a January 8 Chesapeake Bay Briefing held by the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee and in a PA Environment Digest interview with Jill Whitcomb, Director of DEP’s Office of the Chesapeake Bay last week.
Among the actions outlines were--
-- PA Farm Bill Implementation is moving forward which provided an additional $6 million in funding for farm conservation, including increased funding for the REAP farm conservation tax credit; Agri-Link Loans; Conservation Excellence Grant Program, which the State Conservation Commission is looking to delegate to Lancaster and York counties in the form of a block grant.  Click Here for more on the PA Farm Bill;
-- Penn State Survey: A follow-up survey of farmers will be underway in the near future to see if additional on-farm practices can be captured and counted toward Pennsylvania’s progress
-- Fertilizer Overuse On Turf: Senate Bill 915 (Yaw-R-Lycoming) to be considered February 4 by the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee which would put in place a program to control the overuse of fertilizer on turf.  Click Here for more.
-- Keystone Tree Fund bill was signed into law last year to provide a $3 checkoff on vehicle and driver licenses to support DCNR tree planting/buffer programs. DCNR estimates it might generate $50,000 annually.  Click Here for more.
-- Farm Conservation Planning Reimbursement Program was opened and is still accepting applications through April 1.  Click Here for more.
-- Chesapeake Bay Ag Inspection Pilot Program has met its objectives for DEP/ conservation districts to inspect another 10 percent of the farms for compliance this past year in the Bay Watershed.
-- DCNR Conservation Partnership and Forest Buffers Initiatives: Applications are being accepted through the Community Conservation Partnership and Riparian Buffer grants programs to support buffer installations; the Riparian Buffer Summit is coming up in March and DCNR is looking to expand its turf to trees and turf to meadows initiative.
-- Fish and Boat Commission Stream Restoration Initiative will be expanded with the help of funding from EPA to triple its capacity to do stream restoration, streambank stabilization, stream crossings and other restoration work with willing landowners.  The program started with the Northcentral PA Stream Restoration Partnership and will be expanded into other areas of the Bay Watershed.
-- County Clean Water Planning/Implementation: DEP has already kicked off the next phase of implementing its county-based clean water planning effort with the remaining Tier 2 priority counties.  Work with Tier 3 and 4 counties will begin this summer.
DEP just this week provided planning and implementation block grants to eight Southcentral counties and hopes to expand this kind of flexible funding to other counties as they finish their clean water plans.
To help counties get started in the planning process, DEP also finished county clean water planning guides for counties and a planning toolbox with information specific to each county on where highest concentrations of nutrient and sediment pollution are, expected conservation practices reductions and much more.
-- York County Clean Water Plan Implementation is moving forward and the County is working hard to expand the number of people and partners participating in the effort, according to Felicia Dell, Director of the York County Planning Commission.
She said the County appreciates the block grant funding support for implementation and is working with its legislative delegation to find additional funding for water quality monitoring.
-- Accelerating Other Actions, including--
     -- DEP allocating a percentage of the Growing Greener Watershed Restoration funding for Chesapeake Bay implementation projects
     -- DEP is proposing Chapter 105 Dams & Encroachment Regulation changes to simplify and make that program more effective. Click Here for more.
     -- DEP is changing the MS4 Stormwater Pollution Reduction Program to allow communities to work with surrounding areas on implementation projects.
     -- PennVEST is establishing the public/private Center for Water Quality Excellence to provide assistance to landowners to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution to support the clean water plans in Lancaster and York counties.  Click Here for more.
-- DEP is beginning the process of documenting the nutrient and sediment reduction benefits from practices installed on other state agency land, from mine reclamation projects and working with NRCS, USGS and other federal agencies on a similar project to document their efforts.
-- DEP will shortly release the 2020 draft PA Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report which documents impaired waterways across the state.  Click Here for more.
Some of the handouts and presentations from the meeting include-
The meeting of the State Team was recorded on WebEx and will be made available on the State Team webpage.
For more information and available handouts, visit the DEP’s Pennsylvania Chesapeake Bay Phase III WIP State Team webpage.
For more information on how Pennsylvania plans to meet its Chesapeake Bay cleanup obligations, visit DEP’s PA’s Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan webpage.
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[Posted: January 30, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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