Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Partnership For Delaware Estuary Hosts Urban Waters Webinar Series Nov. 2, 10, 17

The webinar speakers will include--

-- November 2: Speakers from the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum in Philadelphia, the Discovery Center, Philadelphia, and the Brandywine River Shad Project - 1:30 p.m.

-- November 10: Speakers from the UrbanPromise and the Center for Aquatic Sciences at Adventure Aquarium, both in Camden, NJ - 1:00 p.m.

-- November 17: Speakers from the Alliance for Watershed Education of the Delaware River and the Delaware Museum of Natural History - 1:00 p.m.

Click Here to register for the webinars.  Questions should be directed to Emily Baumbach at EBaumbach@DelawareEstuary.org

This series is an initiative of the Urban Waters Federal Partnership Delaware River Program.

For more information on programs, initiatives, upcoming events and how you can get involved, visit the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary webpage.

[Posted: October 21, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

Help Wanted: PA Assn. Of Conservation Districts Administrative & Program Assistant


The
PA Association of Conservation Districts is seeking qualified candidates for the position of Administrative and Program Assistant.

The person filling this position is responsible for bookkeeping and clerical duties and provides general program support for the office. This is a part-time position reporting to the Executive Director.

Click Here for all the details. The deadline for applications is November 4.

Visit the PACD Jobs webpage for more employment opportunities with conservation districts.

[Posted: October 21, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

Heritage Conservancy Sets Pioneering Example Of Partnership And Preservation With Manoff Market Gardens, Bucks County


By Freda R. Savana for
Heritage Conservancy

It could be said that Gary and Amy Manoff have farming in their blood. For more than three decades, the couple has lovingly labored to create one of the area’s most bountiful farms in Solebury Township on land that they leased from
Heritage Conservancy.

Manoff Market Gardens on Comfort Road is rich with acres and acres of sour cherries, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, apples and much more, including its own cidery. But it was not always the productive, picturesque landscape it is today.

While the 35-acre property’s highly productive agricultural soils were well understood, the land had not been nurtured for some time when Harriett I. Roberts gifted it to Heritage Conservancy in the early 1980s.

With complete confidence in the property’s potential to be a successful farm, the Conservancy entered into a long-term lease with the Manoffs, who were thrilled to take on the challenge of transforming this uniquely beautiful land into a viable farming enterprise. 

The Manoffs set to work to incorporate many facets of environmentally sustainable business practices, including the adoption of a soil conservation plan to preserve the farm’s rich soil as well as the creation of waterways and terraces to control and reuse rain water runoff. 

They also installed a water conservation irrigation system to hydrate crops while minimizing water waste.

“It has been a living example of a successful sustainable farming project between farmers and a land trust like Heritage Conservancy,” said Jeffrey Marshall, Heritage Conservancy’s President.

Thanks to the innovative vision of Heritage Conservancy, Solebury Township’s commitment to land preservation, and 36 years of the Manoffs’ hard work and unyielding devotion, the couple now owns the land they’ve skillfully tended after recently purchasing it from Heritage Conservancy.

"I have known the Manoffs for more than 40 years, and I was thrilled when they rented the former Roberts property that had been an old orchard in need of attention. Together, Gary and Amy transformed the property into the local treasure we have now,” said Stephen Phillips, Heritage Conservancy’s Chairman of the Board. “I am very pleased that Heritage Conservancy was able to work with Solebury Township to sell the land to the Manoffs and preserve it in perpetuity. I cannot think of better stewards of the property, and I'm confident they can continue to make the land productive and sustainable."

Solebury Township invested in acquiring the property’s conservation easement, adding it to the municipality’s considerable acreage of protected open space. 

“Approximately 40 percent of Solebury is classified as open space,” said Edric Mason, Chair of the Land Preservation Committee.

“This conservation easement helps preserve a strong farming economy in the Township,” said Mason, where agriculture is a primary industry. The preservation also protects Solebury’s critical ground water resources by recharging aquifers, while its location in the Laurel Run watershed further enhances it value.

A very pleased Amy Manoff shared, “Heritage Conservancy made all this possible.”

The result of this visionary partnership is a farm that produces some of the most sought after fruit in the area while the Manoffs continue to cultivate new techniques that ensure a steadfast commitment to soil conservation and sustainable agricultural practices. The couple’s improvement of the land can’t be overstated, as they made it possible to support the orchards.

“There’s only so much investment you can make to improve someone else’s property,” said Amy Manoff. “Now that we own it, we can move forward and think of the next generation. It’s a pretty cool thing.”

For more information on land conservation and how you can become involved, visit the Heritage Conservancy website.  

The Heritage Conservancy has facilitated the preservation of over 15,000 acres of open space, farmland, wildlife habitat, and important watershed areas in Bucks and Montgomery counties. 

(Photo: Gary and Amy Manoff .)

[Posted: October 21, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

Groups Launch Effort Asking Legislators And Candidates For State Legislature To Sign Pennsylvania Climate Pledge


On October 21, Clean Air Action Fund,
Clean Air Moms Action, and Environmental Defense Fund Action announced the Pennsylvania Climate Pledge, a nonpartisan campaign to secure support for key climate change policies from current members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly and candidates currently running to serve in the state legislature.

Legislators and candidates who sign the pledge agree to support the state’s goals for cutting climate pollution, comprehensive methane regulations, and Pennsylvania’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).         

The text of the Climate Pledge: I pledge to protect the residents of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania by addressing climate change and supporting strong limits on climate pollution, strong and comprehensive methane regulations, and Pennsylvania’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

These issues poll highly among Pennsylvania voters. In a September 2020 poll by Yale University and Climate Nexus, 72 percent of Pennsylvania voters supported updating and strengthening regulations to cut methane emissions, with a similar number of voters supporting linking to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

“Today, we’re launching the Pennsylvania Climate Pledge and calling on current and soon-to-be elected officials to protect the future of the Commonwealth,” said Joseph Otis Minott, Esq., President of the Clean Air Action Fund. “Constituents need to know that their leaders are committed to fighting climate change and protecting our health at a time when public health matters more than ever.”

The campaign will conduct grassroots email and phone communications, attend candidate events, and run earned and paid digital media efforts.

 Legislators and candidates can sign the pledge online. The campaign will periodically update signers on the website and run through the start of the 2021 legislative session.

As the second-largest natural gas producer and the third largest greenhouse gas polluter in the nation, Pennsylvania could have a major role in efforts to reduce climate-harming emissions.

“To protect our children's future, our elected officials must prioritize climate action -- starting right here in the Commonwealth,” said Felice Stadler, Director of Clean Air Moms Action. “Legislators and candidates who take this pledge will show voters that they are committed to doing everything they can to reduce climate pollution. Our leaders must take action now to secure a healthy and safe planet for our children and future generations.”

Each year, oil and gas development in Pennsylvania releases more than 1.1 million tons of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that is responsible for 25 percent of the climate change that is occurring today. That is more than double the amount of climate pollution released by all the vehicles in the state combined.

“One thing is clear: we need leadership in the state legislature to both defend and advance critical climate policy,” said Dan Grossman of EDF Action. “Oil and gas operations are responsible for 1.1 million tons of methane pollution each year, putting Pennsylvania families, health, and climate at risk.”

The three organizations are calling on legislators and candidates to work with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to ensure the adoption of comprehensive rules to cut methane and air pollution across the oil and gas supply chain, including from both producing and low-producing wells. 

Comprehensive methane rules will protect the health of Pennsylvanians and safeguard our climate.

Pennsylvania’s power sector is currently the fifth dirtiest in the nation, but the Department of Environmental Protection projects that linking to RGGI would result in 188 million tons of carbon dioxide reduced by 2030 and roughly $300 million in proceeds in the first year alone to invest back into Pennsylvania communities.

Participating in RGGI will help Pennsylvania achieve significant emissions reductions and catalyze economic development through investments in infrastructure, renewable energy, and energy efficiency that can prove especially meaningful to low-income communities where consumers could save money on electric bills.

Visit DEP’s Methane Reduction and Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative webpages for more on these proposals.

[Posted: October 21, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

PennVEST Invests $181 Million In Water Infrastructure, Nonpoint Source Pollution Reduction Projects In 12 Counties


On October 21, Gov. Tom Wolf announced the investment of $181 million for 16 drinking water, wastewater and nonpoint source projects across 12 counties through the
PA Infrastructure Investment Authority.

“As our citizens and businesses continue to adapt to an ever-changing environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our top priority must be ensuring secure infrastructure for community water,” said Gov. Wolf. “Access to clean drinking water is foundational to rebuilding and the growth of our communities. These projects will continue to ensure the safety and welfare of thousands of Pennsylvanians.”

The funding for these projects originates from a combination of state funds approved by voters, Growing Greener, Marcellus Legacy [Act 13 drilling impact fees] funds, federal grants to PennVEST from the Environmental Protection Agency and recycled loan repayments from previous PennVEST funding awards. 

Funds for these projects are disbursed after expenses for work are paid and receipts are submitted to PennVEST for review.

“Investments in clean water infrastructure ensure that our new normal is built upon safe and secure facilities that Pennsylvania can rely on,” said Gov. Wolf. “There is no better step toward a stronger future than the commitments we’re making today for these communities.”

The list of projects includes these projects to control nonpoint source pollution in Lancaster County--

-- Lancaster County Conservation District – received a $402,880 grant to install an efficient manure storage and transfer system at the Levi Fisher farm, including stream crossings and a riparian buffer. The project will reduce nutrient run-off into the Pequea Creek, which is limited by a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL).

-- Warwick Township – received a $556,730 grant to install an efficient manure removal and transfer system at the Jeff Balmer farm. The project will eliminate 1,914 pounds of sediment, 8,887 pounds of nitrogen, and 3,852 pounds of phosphorus annually, drastically improving the Hammer Creek, a tributary to the Cocalico Creek and Chesapeake Bay.

Click Here for a complete list of projects funded.

For more information on water infrastructure funding opportunities, visit the PA Infrastructure Investment Authority webpage.

[Posted: October 21, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

Penn State Extension Webinar Series On Private Drinking Water Supply & Management


Penn State Extension is hosting an 8-part water webinar series on Private Drinking Water Supply and Management through November 25.  Although the series has started, participants who register will get links to previous webinars.

The webinars include--

-- Getting Your Drinking Water Tested

-- Radon and Radium in Private Water Supplies

-- October 21: Protecting Groundwater From Pesticides 1:00 p.m.

-- October 28: The Importance Of Forests to Groundwater And Wells

-- November 4: Occurrence And Removal Of Arsenic In Groundwater Wells

-- November 11: Proper Well Construction Steps To Protect Groundwater And Your Health

-- November 18: Pharmaceuticals And Other Emerging Contaminants In Groundwater Wells

-- November 25: Climate Change Effects On Water

Click Here to register these free webinars and for more information.

For more information on water wells and assistance near you, visit the Penn State Extension Master Well Owner Network webpage.

Visit the Penn State Extension webpage for more information on other education opportunities.


(Reprinted from Penn State Extension Oct. 21 Watershed Winds newsletter.  Click Here to sign up for your own copy.)

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-- Agricultural Impacts Of Current PA Drought Conditions

-- Managing Your Water Well During a Drought

-- Penn State Extension: Water Education Remains A Priority In Distance Learning

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[Posted: October 21, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

Managing Your Water Well During a Drought


By Bryan Swistock,
Penn State Extension

There are steps that water well owners can take to monitor and protect their groundwater supply during droughts.

Over the past several months, much of central and northern Pennsylvania have experienced significant drought conditions with rainfall up to ten inches below normal. The obvious effects of this drought have been on agricultural crops, gardens, lawns, and streams. 

Less obvious are the effects on groundwater aquifers that supply water to thousands of rural homes and farms using private water wells and springs. 

These wells and springs tap groundwater aquifers that cannot easily be seen or monitored. 

The invisible nature of groundwater leads to an uneasy feeling among homeowners relying on wells that their water supply could dry up without warning during a drought. 

But there are steps that water well owners can take to monitor and protect their groundwater supply during droughts.

Monitor the status of groundwater in your area by accessing county-specific data on the USGS website. The circular graphic in each county provides more information about the status of drought indicators in that county. 

By clicking on the groundwater tab (the lower right portion of the circular graphic in any county), you can access more information about the status and trends of groundwater in your county.

Reduce water use inside and outside the home. Water conservation is always a good idea, but it becomes vital during times of drought. Water use within the home can be significantly reduced through changes in habits and by installing water-saving devices. 

In emergency situations, changes in water use habits can provide quick reductions in water use. 

Examples might include flushing the toilet less often, taking shorter showers, only washing full loads of dishes or laundry, and collecting water from roof gutters for outside use. 

More information on water conservation can be found in several Penn State Extension articles including Saving Water in an Emergency and Household Water Conservation

If your well begins to produce less water or no water at all during a drought, have a water well driller evaluate the well to rule out other causes such as a malfunctioning submersible pump or pressure tank. 

Even if the water level has dropped to near the submersible pump, you may be able to adapt to the reduced water availability by taking emergency water conservation measures until normal rainfall returns.

If the water level permanently drops below the submersible pump, it may be possible to lower the submersible pump within the existing well to access water. In most cases, this will only provide a short-term solution to the problem. 

More permanent solutions require either deepening of the existing well or drilling of a new well. 

Be aware that deepening an existing well may not increase the well yield and could produce water of different water quality characteristics. 

You should consult with a local well-driller or a professional hydrogeologist to determine the best solution for your situation. 

Local water well contractors can be found on the National Ground Water Association Find a Contractor website.

[For more information on water wells and assistance near you, visit the Penn State Extension Master Well Owner Network webpage.

[Visit the Penn State Extension webpage for more information on other education opportunities.

[Visit DEP’s Drought webpage for the latest on drought watches and warnings.]


(Reprinted from Penn State Extension Oct. 21 Watershed Winds newsletter.  Click Here to sign up for your own copy.)

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-- Help Penn State Extension Master Watershed Stewards Plan Future Programs

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-- The Tree As A Microcosm Of An Entire Watershed

-- Agricultural Impacts Of Current PA Drought Conditions

-- Penn State Extension Webinar Series On Private Drinking Water Supply & Management

-- Penn State Extension: Water Education Remains A Priority In Distance Learning

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[Posted: October 21, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

Agricultural Impacts Of Current PA Drought Conditions


By Nicole Santangelo,
Penn State Extension

Most damage to crop conditions has been done in Pennsylvania, but real threats remain in the state for surface and groundwater supplies on farms.

Drought conditions have threatened Pennsylvania agriculture since early this year. The National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration partner to provide the United States Drought Monitor

The drought monitor in July had 81 percent of Pennsylvania listed as Abnormally Dry and 4 percent in D1, moderate drought. Three months later, portions of Pennsylvania have recovered, but other portions have dipped further into drought status. 

Now 75 percent of Pennsylvania is in dry conditions with 38 percent in D1, moderate drought and 9 percent in D2, severe drought. 

Cool season grass yield has suffered the most due to drought conditions, followed by areas with poor corn growth and/or incomplete pollination.

In addition to the Drought Monitor, the United States Geological Survey maintains a database and interactive map showing drought conditions on a county by county basis. The interactive map can be found at "Pennsylvania Drought Condition Monitoring." (see map above)

The map classifies the following, green indicates no declaration, yellow is drought watch, orange indicates drought warning and red signifies emergency conditions.

The circular figure in each county shows conditions from 4 quadrants: Top Left - 90 day precipitation; Top Right - Surface water; Bottom Left - Palmer index indicator; Bottom Right - Groundwater indicators using observation wells.

Persistent dry weather in many counties has led to low groundwater supplies, low spring overflow and reduced pond and surface water levels. This poses a large threat to livestock producers in Pennsylvania. 

Some farms in the most severely affected areas have already begun to destock or sell stock earlier than normal this fall due to lack of forage and/or lack of water.

Neither future droughts nor the end of droughts is easy to predict. However, since we are now into the autumn months and out of the hot growing months, evapotranspiration is decreasing. 

Assuming good soil health, more precipitation will infiltrate lessening the effects of the drought. 

More information on evapotranspiration by month can be found at the Northeast Regional Climate Center.

Considerations for working with farmers to reduce drought risk for agriculture:

-- Water security on livestock farms is always of high concern as most recent years has had high rainfall, however, lack of water resources typically happens abruptly. 

-- Planning for farm drought emergencies including hauling water, additional cisterns or improving current systems to reduce risk of running out of water.

-- Drought relief measures often do not kick in until a D3 Severe Drought declaration. Prior to this declaration point, it is important to keep good records of drought related losses and expenses.

-- Building soil health through reduced tillage and cover crops can increase soil moisture holding capacity. Learn more about soil health in the article: Managing Soil Health: Concepts and Practices.

-- Become familiar with and experiment with a diverse crop rotation to include crops that are drought tolerant and/or provide emergency forage.

-- Understand pasture manage and stocking rates during late summer grazing.

-- Consider water sensors or leak detectors in livestock barns and where applicable in irrigation systems.

[Visit DEP’s Drought webpage for the latest on drought watches and warnings.]


(Reprinted from Penn State Extension Oct. 21 Watershed Winds newsletter.  Click Here to sign up for your own copy.)

Related Articles - Extension:

-- Help Penn State Extension Master Watershed Stewards Plan Future Programs

-- To Harvest Or Not To Harvest: Recent Insight On Riparian Buffers

-- The Tree As A Microcosm Of An Entire Watershed

-- Managing Your Water Well During a Drought

-- Penn State Extension Webinar Series On Private Drinking Water Supply & Management

-- Penn State Extension: Water Education Remains A Priority In Distance Learning

Related Articles - Education:

-- Water Cooler Talk: Sustainable Agriculture Nutrient Recovery And Upcycling Webinar Oct. 28

-- Penn State Extension Hosts 9-Part Green Stormwater Infrastructure Webinar Series

-- Penn State Extension: 9-Part Woods In Your Backyard Webinar Series Starts Jan. 27

-- Penn State Extension Offers 4-Part Natural Area Management Webinar Series

[Posted: October 21, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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