Friday, January 22, 2021

26 More Counties Take The Lead In Developing Local Clean Water Action Plans In PA Portion Of Chesapeake Bay Watershed

On January 22, the Department of Environmental Protection announced it has awarded approximately $1 million in grants to support 26 counties in the upper half of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed in developing
Countywide Clean Water Action Plans to improve local water quality.

The counties join eight others in the lower half of the watershed who developed Countywide Action Plans in 2019 and 2020. 

All 34 counties that were asked to create and carry out plans to reduce local nutrient and sediment pollution as part of the state Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan have now signed on.

“This is an exciting first in Pennsylvania’s longtime work to improve the health of the watershed,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Having all counties on board demonstrates a new level of community commitment to improving local waters and protecting the benefits they bring to our lives. It also reflects the effectiveness of new partnerships by state agencies and the agriculture, forestry, wastewater, and business sectors to support this local work. DEP will do everything we can to sustain this action for healthy waters.”

DEP awarded $1 million in grants from the Environmental Stewardship Fund to support local development of planning teams and Countywide Action Plans of best management projects to reduce nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution. 

These pollutants are building up in streams, rivers, and lakes as a result of human activities such as applying fertilizers, plowing and tilling agricultural fields, and stripping away trees and vegetation, increasing streambank erosion.

To make the most of limited funding, the 26 counties have formed groups to develop 10 Countywide Action Plans. Each group applied for and was approved for up to $100,000 in grant funding.

-- Group 1: Chester, Berks, and Schuylkill counties

-- Group 2: Lackawanna, Luzerne, and Susquehanna counties

-- Group 3: Lycoming and Northumberland counties

-- Group 4: Tioga, Potter, and Bradford counties

-- Group 5: Snyder and Union counties

-- Group 6: Montour, Columbia, and Sullivan counties

-- Group 7: Clinton, Clearfield, and Cambria counties

-- Group 8: Blair, Huntingdon, and Fulton counties

-- Group 9: Dauphin and Perry counties

-- Group 10: Juniata and Mifflin counties

The DEP grants are part of multiyear agreements to support counties’ participation in Pennsylvania’s Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan to meet federal obligations to improve the health of the bay.

The state plan takes a Healthy Waters, Healthy Communities approach, giving county teams control of local water quality improvement, while providing as much data, technical assistance, funding, and other support as possible. 

It encourages and equips counties to develop strategies and determine project sites and types that will benefit their communities and farmers, municipalities, businesses, and other landowners while restoring the environment.

Adams, Franklin, Lancaster, and York counties completed their Countywide Action Plans in 2019 and began to enlist partners, pursue funding sources, and break ground on projects in 2020. 

Bedford, Centre, Cumberland, and Lebanon counties submitted their draft plans to DEP in December and are in the process of finalizing them.

All or part of 43 Pennsylvania counties are in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The remaining nine counties have low levels of nutrient and sediment pollution and are not requested to develop Countywide Action Plans.

Next State Team Meeting Jan. 26

The next meeting of the State Chesapeake Bay Implementation Team meeting is January 26 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.  Read more here.

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.

Related Articles:

-- PA State Team Guiding The Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan Meets Jan. 26 To Hear Update On State, County Water Cleanup Efforts

-- DEP, Partners Provide Progress Report On First Phase Of Chesapeake Bay Implementation Plan To EPA; New DEP Guide To Permitting For Watershed Projects 

-- Bay Journal: Can Chesapeake Bay Region Dredge Its Way Out Of Conowingo Dam Problem? 

-- CNH Industrial-New Holland Ag Partners With Alliance For The Chesapeake Bay On Riparian Buffer Project In Lancaster County

-- $178 Million Invested In 14 Water Infrastructure Projects In 11 Counties By PennVEST

[Posted: January 22, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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