Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Lancaster Clean Water Partners Announce $128,000 In Grants To Support Implementation of Countywide Clean Water Plan

On September 30,
Lancaster Clean Water Partners announced the award of $128,000 in grants to support four local projects implementing the Lancaster Countywide Clean Water Plan.

Funding for the projects comes from the Lancaster Clean Water Fund, funded through several partner organizations and charitable foundations, serves as a catalyst for increased collaboration to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of current and future clean water projects.

The projects funded include--

-- Conservation Practice Implementation In Salisbury Township: Salisbury Township was awarded funding to install BMPs to address nutrient and sediment reductions on two plain sect farms at the Pequea Creek headwaters. Barnyard runoff and stream protection – the top two agricultural conservation needs in Salisbury Township – are the main focus of these two projects. 

These projects will also provide valuable learning and demonstration opportunities to address the barrier to conservation practices among plain sect farms.

“Cleaning Lancaster’s streams requires a commitment from landowners to make improvements that will improve water quality and a package of funding to make it possible,” says John Williamson, TeamAg, Inc. “We assisted Salisbury Township in obtaining a NFWF grant for two farms for fencing, stream crossings, and improved manure management structures. When this grant didn’t cover the entire project, we turned to the Lancaster Clean Water Fund. These projects will be built within a year, and will help these farms improve their economic and environmental performance.”

-- Peters Creek Restoration: Donegal Trout Unlimited (DTU) was awarded funding to restore a section of Peters Creek in southern Lancaster County. Restoration efforts, including stream and floodplain restoration and riparian buffer plantings, will reduce nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollutants. 

Upon project completion, the stream will be used as a conservation laboratory. DTU will partner with Excelon to provide environmental and conservation education to the community through eco-tours for teachers, students, and volunteers, and provide information at the Muddy Run Visitor Center and Conowingo Visitor Center.

“DTU is especially pleased to work with Exelon for the third time on a stream restoration project on Peters Creek, a unique watershed containing native brown trout and the endangered logperch,” says Bob Kutz, conservation co-chair with DTU. “This final stretch of stream, which runs from Peach Bottom Road to the marina on the Susquehanna, will become a model used as a conservation laboratory by teachers, students and volunteers interested in coldwater stream restoration.”

-- Stormwater Management Education for Pre-Service Student Teachers: Millersville University Watershed Education Training Institute (WETi) has been awarded funds to provide pre-service student teachers with a meaningful watershed education experience, focusing on issues that impact local watersheds. 

As part of the project, students will have formal classroom instruction, site visits to impaired streams, and discussions with organizations about failed and successful conservation projects.

This project will unite students from different cultures and socio-economic backgrounds, and provide them with the knowledge and tools to share with their future K-12 students so they too  can protect our waterways and diverse aquatic ecosystems for generations to come.

“We’re very excited to receive this grant from the Partners,” says John Wallace, professor at Millersville University and project coordinator. “The grant will fund a novel, multi-scaled approach to train our pre-service student teachers to participate in a national certification stormwater management program, visit stormwater BMPs in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and experience the construction of a stormwater rain garden at MU WETi – all with the objective of disseminating this information across geographic and socio-economic boundaries for future generations to strive for the improvement of clean waters through effective stormwater management strategies.” 

-- Willow Street Park Rain Garden Installation: West Lampeter Township has been awarded funding to install a bioretention rain garden in the Willow Street Township Park.

 Currently a 15.5 acre tributary drainage area of untreated, urbanized area within the Mill Creek watershed flows through the park carrying pollutants, sediment, asphalt oils, and debris into downstream infrastructure. The project will remedy this by installing a rain garden with 18″ of amended soil media and native plants.

The rain garden installation provides a valuable opportunity to educate the public while providing an aesthetically pleasing and naturalistic example of the benefits that rain gardens provide.

“West Lampeter Township is honored to have received this grant funding from the Clean Water Fund and excited to break ground on this project,” says Amanda Hickman, community development director at West Lampeter Township. “This rain garden project not only compliments our recreational facilities but serves as a catalyst for the long term integration of our public education and conservation strategies moving forward.”

Other Updates

In other updates from the Lancaster Clean Water Partners--

-- Vegetated Swale Installation In Paradise Township

-- Scholar Spotlight: Wyatt Behringer

For more information on programs, initiatives, upcoming events and how you can get involved, visit the Lancaster Clean Water Partners website.  Contact Allyson Ladley Gibson for more information at 717-368-4831 or send an email to:

[Posted: Sept. 30, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

Extra Discount On Native Plant Sales During October From The Audubon Society Of Western PA

For the month of October,
Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania is offering an extra 10 percent discount on native plants. That’s 20 percent off for ASWP members and 10 percent for non-members. 

Located at Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve, ASWP’s native plant nursery – the Audubon Center for Native Plants, is celebrating its 20 year anniversary. ASWP grows over 120 species from hand-collected seed and offers herbaceous perennials, shrubs, and trees. 

While supplies last, fall availability includes a variety of high-wildlife value plants such as blazing star, great blue lobelia, cardinal flower, paw paws, hazelnuts, and witch hazel.

A 20 percent discount is offered all season to nonprofit and public agencies.

Native plants are available for sale from April – October at Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve, located at 614 Dorseyville Road, Pittsburgh, PA, 15238.  

For more information, visit the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania website or call 412-963-6100.

Related Article:

Audubon Society Of Western PA Hosts Online Buffalo Creek Watershed Riparian Buffer Workshops With Free Trees In Armstrong, Butler Counties 

[Posted: Sept. 30, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

EPA, Agriculture Formalize Joint Support For Healthy Farms, Clean Water, Future Food Security At Lancaster County Farm

On September 30, Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Northeast Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio signed a
five-year Letter of Understanding formalizing the agencies’ joint commitment to supporting measures to sustain healthy farms, clean water and food security for the region’s future. 

Officials signed the agreement at Worth the Wait Farms in Stevens, Lancaster County with agriculture leaders from across the Mid-Atlantic.

“These past few months have made it crystal clear to all of us that having food on our tables depends on having farms that are functioning at the top of their game and ready for whatever nature throws at them,” Redding said. “What happens on farms in Lancaster County has a tremendous impact on the daily lives of four million people in our region. The Landis family models soil and water conservation practices that ensure clean water, and a healthy farm that will keep producing food now and in the future.”

The agreement expands activities to prioritize funding, coordinate regulatory programs, recognize farmers for environmental stewardship and enhance opportunities for a dialogue with the agricultural community.

“This agreement builds on the actions our agencies are taking together and with the broader agricultural community to promote a vibrant farm economy and clean rivers and streams,” said Servidio. “This letter formalizes our work together in the pursuit of solutions that are good for both agriculture and the environment.”

The agreement reiterates Pennsylvania’s commitment to continued efforts, including the PA Farm Bill, a $23 million investment in growing and sustaining the Commonwealth’s agriculture industry, which was modeled after Governor Wolf’s six-point plan to cultivate future generations of Pennsylvania agriculture. 

The bill supports business development and succession planning, creates accommodations for a growing animal agriculture sector, removes regulatory burdens, strengthens the ag workforce, protects infrastructure, and works toward making Pennsylvania the nation’s leading organic state.

The Farm Bill created the $2.5 million Conservation Excellence Grant program, which funds on-farm measures that reduce erosion and run-off, improving soil and water quality to ultimately sustain agriculture and improve the region’s quality of life. 

Examples include fencing to keep livestock out of streams, streambank restoration, cover crops, planted streamside buffers to filter nutrients out of streams, manure storage, and comprehensive plans to manage nutrients, control erosion and conserve soil and water.

The Landis family’s farm was chosen for today’s announcement in celebration of conservation measures they have taken on their seventh-generation dairy farm. 

During the event, American Dairy Association Northeast CEO Rick Naczi recognized the Landis family for their environmental stewardship with the organization’s Dairying for Tomorrow Award.

“Throughout 2020, and despite its many challenges, our dairy farmers continue to produce high-quality milk, while remaining committed to the care of their animals, their land, and being a good neighbor to their local communities,” said Rick Naczi, ADA North East CEO. “The Dairying for Tomorrow Awards were designed to help recognize these efforts.”

The five-year Letter of Understanding outlines the two agencies’ commitment to coordinate and leverage federal, state and private funding to support agricultural conservation practices and innovative approaches to advancing sustainable agriculture and environmental protection.

PA Chesapeake Bay Plan

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.    

Click Here for a summary of the steps the Plan recommends.

How Clean Is Your Stream?

DEP’s Interactive Report Viewer allows you to zoom in on your own stream or watershed to find out how clean your stream is or if it has impaired water quality using the latest information in the draft 2020 Water Quality Report.
[Posted: Sept. 30, 2020] 
PA Environment Digest

Republicans On House Environmental Committee OK Bills To Exempt Water Supplies, Slow Down Solar Energy; And Disapprove Of Air Quality Fees, New Manganese Water Standard

On September 30, Republicans on the
House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee voted to report out legislation to exempt some water supplies used by the public from clean drinking water standards and slow down solar energy installations by requiring the recycling of solar panels through the state’s broken electronic waste recycling program.

Republicans also approved a Concurrent House Resolution disapproving of the Environmental Quality Board’s final regulation to increase Air Quality Permit fees and a letter to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission expressing their disapproval of the EQB’s proposed change in the manganese water quality standard to make it more protective.

Exempting Public Water Supplies

Republicans reported out House Bill 707 (Zimmerman-R-Lancaster) which would exempt any facility owned by a church or an association of churches, including schools, daycare centers and camps, from the need to meet Safe Drinking Water Act clean drinking water standards.

At a June 12, 2019 information meeting on the bill, DEP told the Committee not assuring the drinking water at these facilities serving the public meet safe drinking water standards would put Pennsylvania at risk of losing primary for administering the federal Safe Drinking Water Act which requires the regulation of these water supplies.

If Pennsylvania loses primacy, the $34 million and more in federal funds the Commonwealth receives each year to fund drinking water system improvements and $5.5 million in support to pay for inspectors and permit reviewers for the program would be lost.

There would need to be a change in federal law to make the change proposed in House Bill 707.  Read more here.

The bill was amended, but the amendment did not address the fundamental flaws in the bill.

Slowing Down Solar Energy

Republicans reported out House Bill 2197 (Dush-R-Clearfield) which would add solar panels-- “photovoltaic modules”-- to the state’s Electronic Waste Recycling Program-- Covered Device Recycling Act--  requiring manufacturers to support recycling programs that collect solar panels for recycling.

In April of 2019, the House Environmental Committee held a hearing on recycling, and electronic waste recycling in particular, and heard testimony about how the e-waste program is broken, both for the communities it serves and the electronics product manufacturers that support it.  Read more here.

The program continues to be broken and needs major changes for it to function.  The Senate and House has failed to take action to fix the program.

At a September 16 House Environmental Committee information meeting on the bill, the PA Recycling Markets Center, the PA Resources Council, the Solar Energy Industries Associates and DEP said the Covered Device Recycling Act is not an appropriate program for recycling solar panels, according to Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware), Minority Chair of the Committee.

Click Here for a copy of the Solar Energy Industries Association commentsClick Here for a PA Recycling Markets Center comments.

The issue of recycling solar panels has been brought up frequently by Rep. Dush, the prime sponsor of the bill, and other conservatives in hearings on climate change and renewable energy.

They contend the state should not “rush” into promoting renewable energy until there is a viable way to recycle the panels.

In the Senate, Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) is proposing legislation to load up solar energy projects with bonds which will have the effect of killing $2 billion in private solar investment.  Read more here.

These are thinly disguised attempts to make solar energy more costly and unattainable for Pennsylvanians and favor fossil fuels.

Trying To Kill Air Quality Fee Increases

Republicans on the Committee reported out House Concurrent Regulatory Review Resolution #3 which would prevent the publication of final Environmental Quality Board regulations increasing DEP Air Quality Program fees.

The action gives the House and Senate each 30 calendar days or ten legislative days-- whichever is longer-- to pass the resolution to permanently block the regulation and present it to the Governor for his action.  During that time, there is a bar on publishing the regulation.

The House only has five scheduled legislative days left and the Senate seven.  The House has until October 30 to pass the resolution.

DEP started developing this fee package in December of 2017 and the EQB originally proposed the Air Quality fee increase package in December of 2018.  The state Air Pollution Control Act requires DEP to adopt fees to cover the cost of the program.

The EQB approved the regulation as final on July 21 and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission approved it on September 17.

At the Board meeting, Krish Ramamurthy, Deputy Secretary for Waste, Air, Radiation and Remediation, said the federal Clean Air Act also requires DEP to have resources sufficient to pay for the program.

He added Air Quality staff has been reduced by more than 65 positions because of the lack of financial resources.

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler), Majority Chair of the Committee, said with the devastating economic impact of the COVID shutdown, this was no time to raise permit fees.  [Read more here.]

Click Here for the text of the Concurrent Resolution.

Urging Disapproval Of Protective Manganese Water Quality Standard

Republicans on the Committee approved a letter to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission expressing their disapproval of the proposed Environmental Quality Board regulation adopting a manganese water quality standard that is protective of public health and aquatic life.

The letter said in part-- “Not only did DEP fail to promulgate regulations within the 90 days required under Act 40, the Department waited well over two years before promulgating these regulations we are discussing in this letter. Even worse, these proposed regulations contradict the simple instructions contained in the Act. 

“DEP's excuses about why the delay was necessary to fully analyze their obligations under various laws and the health implications of manganese are utter nonsense. 

“The regulation that Act 40 contemplated and required was a straightforward change and would not have required any of the extensive review which DEP claims to have conducted. No federal or state laws would have been violated by complying with Act 40 and promulgating the required regulations. 

“The only law being violated is Act 40 itself by DEP. Why did Governor Wolf sign Act 40 into law if he intended for DEP to violate these provisions so completely?”

Click Here for a copy of the letter.

The IRRC has until October 26 to submit comments to the Environmental Quality Board on the proposed regulation.  Click Here for comments already submitted to the IRRC.

Background On Manganese Standard

The reality isn’t as simple as the Republican letter would have you believe.

“In reviewing the effects of manganese on human health, DEP determined that the current standard was not acceptable, and we consulted the latest research data to determine a new standard,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell and Chair of the EQB. “We believe this standard will protect human health from the neurotoxicological effects of manganese, as well as ensure adequate protection of all water uses.”

The EQB proposed a new numeric human health criterion for manganese of 0.3 mg/L in Chapter 93.8 - Water Quality Criteria For Toxic Substances, and would delete the existing 1 mg/L standard because it is not protective of human health.

The regulation, however, is proposing alternative language for public comment which would make the point of compliance at the discharge point or the point at which water is taken from a stream consistent with the 2017 law.

A 2017 change in state law, added at the last minute as part of a budget-related bill,  directed the Environmental Quality Board to adopt a proposed manganese standard within 90 days that includes the 1 milligram/liter manganese standard established under 25 Pa Code Chapter 93.7 and changing the point of compliance from the point pollution enters a stream to the point where it is taken out by a water user (25 Pa Code Chapter 96.3)

The 1 milligram/liter standard is 20 times the level of manganese that water suppliers are allowed to have in their water supplies, according to EPA’s secondary maximum contaminant level. Click Here for more.

Local government groups, drinking water suppliers and many other groups opposed the last minute amendment, which Republicans ignored. Click Here for more.

The last minute change was a favor to the coal industry and shifts the burden for treating manganese discharges from mine sites and other sources from those who pollute the water to those using the water, like public water suppliers.

The change in law swept away nearly 30 years of environmental protection for Pennsylvania waterways impacted by the consequences of acid mine drainage, and imposes additional testing, monitoring and treatment at public water supply operations along these waterways.

Current science shows manganese is harmful to human health as a possible nervous system toxin with implications to early childhood development at levels that are less than the threshold levels that impact aquatic life.

In January of 2018, DEP published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking requesting information on changing the water quality standard to gather more information on manganese impacts and setting a 1 mg/L standard as part of the regulation development process.  Click Here for more.

Both the Water Resources Advisory and Small Water Systems Technical Assistance Center Board voted to support the 0.3 mg/L standard proposed by DEP, while acknowledging the 2017 law moving the point of compliance.

Republicans did not mention the support of these two DEP advisory committees in their discussion of the standard, unlike when they pointed to the DISapproval of the proposed regulations establishing a Carbon Pollution Reduction Program covering power plants.

The Agricultural Advisory Board provided DEP with background on manganese related to the proposal.

Concerned about the delay in proposing a 1 mg/L manganese within 90 days of the adoption of the 2017 law, Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) and Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, filed a lawsuit in Commonwealth Court asking that the EQB be directed to take action. 

On November 12 of last year, Commonwealth Court ruled the Senators lacked standing to file a petition for mandamus relief to compel DEP and the Environmental Quality Board to propose a change in the manganese standard as required by the 2017 lawClick Here for more.

Another Bill

The Committee reported out the noncontroversial House Bill 2002 (Kaufer-R-Luzerne) eliminating the obsolete Anthracite Coal Tax Act.

All the bills and the Concurrent Resolution now go to the full House for considerations.

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:

[Posted: Sept. 30, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

CBF Offering 6 Live Online Classes To Empower Volunteer VoiCeS In PA To Advocate For Clean Water

Chesapeake Bay Foundation is hosting six live, online classes for Pennsylvania residents interested in learning more about water quality issues and what they can do to help protect and restore local rivers and streams.

“We hope participants in CBF’s Volunteers as Chesapeake Stewards (VoiCeS) online classes will gain a deeper appreciation of the value of clean water to our communities, economy, and quality of life,” says Harry Campbell, CBF’s Science Policy and Advocacy Director in Pennsylvania. “With that deeper knowledge and appreciation, new local volunteers will be empowered to take real and meaningful actions from their backyards to the halls of Congress.”

Voices virtual learning will be held online Tuesday evenings, October 6 through November 17, except for November 3, from 7-8:30 p.m. 

Classes will include one to two hours of pre-recorded materials that participants can watch at their leisure. 

Participants will be sharing learning with other like-minded folks from across Virginia and Maryland and all must attend at least five of the six classes.

Professionally-taught class subjects include:

-- Pollution problems and solutions; 

-- Meet your Pennsylvania watershed and aquatic bugs; 

-- Environmental justice;

-- Polluted runoff, riparian buffers in PA, Bay science and fisheries; 

-- Urban and rural pollution issues; and 

-- Ways you can save PA and the Bay, the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership, and how to be a clean water advocate.

The weekly live classes will include a Q&A with expert speakers.

A field trip will be held for each region at a later date when the group can safely gather.

After classes, VoiCeS participants will commit a minimum of 20 hours of volunteer work toward improving local water quality and the Chesapeake Bay.

“Volunteer activities could take the form of joining a local group effort the plant trees, writing letters to state and federal decision-makers about the importance of water quality programs and proposed legislation, or even reducing the size of lawns by planting wildflower meadows and trees,” Harry Campbell adds. “It is their path to take. We’ll be there to help.”

The course fee is $25 per household, which includes one seat on the Zoom webinars. A limited number of spaces are available for those who cannot manage the registration fee at this time.

For more information, visit CBF’s Volunteers as Chesapeake Stewards (VoiCeS).  Questions should be directed to Carla Johns by sending email to:

For more on Chesapeake Bay-related issues in Pennsylvania, visit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation-PA webpage.  Click Here to sign up for Pennsylvania updates (bottom of left column).  Click Here to support their work.

Also visit the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership to learn how you can help clean water grow on trees.

CBF has over 275,000 members in Bay Watershed.

PA Chesapeake Bay Plan

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.    

Click Here for a summary of the steps the Plan recommends.

How Clean Is Your Stream?

DEP’s Interactive Report Viewer allows you to zoom in on your own stream or watershed to find out how clean your stream is or if it has impaired water quality using the latest information in the draft 2020 Water Quality Report.
[Posted: Sept. 30, 2020] 
PA Environment Digest

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