Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Interfaith Partners For The Chesapeake, Brightside Baptist Church Rain Garden Prove Green Infrastructure Is Beautiful And Functional In Lancaster County

By Sean O'Connor, Communications Intern,
Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

Rain gardens are a crucial piece of green infrastructure that capture and filter stormwater before it enters local waterways. They are bowl-shaped and full of native grasses, perennials, and shrubs whose roots filter sediment and pollutants from runoff. 

They also prevent flooding by storing water, reducing erosion from collecting sediment, and providing habitats for native animals! 

Right here in Lancaster, at Brightside Baptist Church, there is a rain garden that contains native plants like milkweeds, switchgrass, sedges, turtleheads, soft rush, purple coneflowers, and blue cardinal flowers. 

These plants are strategically placed at different elevations within the garden to filter varying amounts of rainwater as well as for aesthetic purposes. 

For example, switchgrass and soft rush are placed higher along the edges of the rain garden, while milkweed and purple coneflowers are placed lower in the garden basin because they can handle more water. 

The garden captures rainwater from 217 square feet of the roof and can store over 320 gallons of water. 

Besides managing stormwater, these plants also attract and provide habitat for hummingbirds, Baltimore Checkerspot and Skipper Butterflies! 

This garden was installed this past May through a collaborative effort from the Brightside Baptist Church’s Team 24, the Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, the Chesapeake Conservation Landscaping Council, and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

Earlier this year, Bright Side connected with Interfaith Partners through their Faithful Green Leaders Program, a training program IPC offers to congregations interested in forming a “green team.” 

IPC is uniquely positioned to help lead communication around conservation to communities of faith and engaged in outreach to various congregations in the City of Lancaster early on. 

The Alliance met with IPC and Bright Side last fall for a site assessment to evaluate the property for green infrastructure opportunities and suitable areas for a practice such as a rain garden. 

In the spring, the Alliance also led the design effort and coordinated with a contractor for installation and church volunteers to plant the rain garden. 

We also worked closely with IPC and Team 24 at BrightSide as the installation location and design were finalized and to plan a public showcase event held during Water Week in June. 

On June 27th, the CCLC coordinated with Team 24 and the Alliance for a rain garden maintenance workshop. 

At this workshop, volunteers learned how to identify native and invasive plants from their leaves using various identification tools and apps. 

They also took soil samples from inside the rain garden and outside in the surrounding turf to compare the differences in soil composition and drainage capacity. 

The soil outside of the rain garden consisted of mostly impervious clay and thus is not suitable for rain garden basins. 

Inside the rain garden, the soil was mostly silt and sand, which gives the soil excellent drainage for storing and filtering stormwater. 

The volunteers also drafted a maintenance plan for the rain garden at Brightside and for their personal use should they choose to construct a rain garden on their property. 

Maintenance is critical for a rain garden to successfully reduce flooding and erosion because a rain garden can only be effective if we adjust to vegetation growth and climate change by making changes in the garden over time. 

But we had such a good turnout for the maintenance training on Monday that I am confident that the rain garden at Brightside and elsewhere will be able to effectively function and work to improve the water quality of the Conestoga watershed and the Chesapeake Bay as a whole. 

For our forests. For our streams. For our Future. 

More information is available on programs, initiatives and special events on the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay website.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates from the Alliance, Like the Alliance on Facebook, Follow them on Twitter, and visit the Alliance’s YouTube ChannelClick Here to support the Alliance’s work.

Sean O’Connor is an Environmental Studies Major at Franklin & Marshall College.

(Reprinted from the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay Blog.)

Related Article:

-- Lancaster Clean Water Partners Report On Progress, Local Projects To Improve Water Quality In Lancaster County

[Posted: September 1, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

EPA Announces Winners Of Let’s Talk About Heat Challenge Including 1 From PA; Sharing Strategies To Help Communities Stay Safe During Extreme Heat

On August 31, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the 10 winners of the
Let’s Talk About Heat Challenge

The winner in Pennsylvania was the Trust for Public Land in Philadelphia for their “Heat Response: Creative Action for Philly’s Rising Temperatures (HR)” initiative focused on community engagement through public art with local artists, residents, and city agencies to combat environmental racism and historic inequity.  Read more here.

Winners will receive prizes of $12,000 each for their innovative strategies and messages to raise awareness of extreme heat risks and protect public health, especially in underserved communities. 

The Let’s Talk About Heat Challenge was developed in support of the National Climate Task Force's Extreme Heat Interagency Working Group, which is being led by EPA, NOAA, and HHS with support from the White House.

“This summer, unprecedented heat is having devastating impacts on people across this country and around the world. As we work to make our communities more resilient and combat climate change, we must also make sure people have the information they need to stay safe during intense heat waves. I congratulate our challenge winners for helping to protect their neighbors and our most vulnerable community members by raising awareness of heat risks,” said Vicki Arroyo, EPA Associate Administrator for Policy and senior representative on the National Climate Task Force's Extreme Heat Interagency Working Group.

Extreme heat can affect everyone, but it can be much worse for those with chronic conditions, including heart disease, diabetes and multiple sclerosis. 

Heat also has a bigger impact on children and older people – as well as people who spend more time outdoors or lack air conditioning. 

Additionally, extreme heat can disproportionately impact people of color and people with lower incomes who often live in neighborhoods with fewer trees and less greenery, which makes these areas hotter than wealthier areas of the same city. 

The Let’s Talk About Heat Challenge winners are raising awareness of extreme heat risks for more vulnerable groups and individuals and offering tips on how people can protect themselves from extreme heat. 

EPA and challenge co-sponsors will work with challenge winners over the coming months to share the winning heat safety messages with communities across the country and help build capacity for communities to communicate the risks of extreme heat.

Click Here for the complete announcement.

Winners Sharing Webinar

EPA and partners will host a webinar featuring representatives from these 10 winning organizations on Thursday, October 6 at 2:00 p.m. ET. 

Register here for the webinar to learn more about the winning messages and how partners worked together to reach target audiences.  

In addition to EPA, challenge co-sponsors include NOAA, HHS, FEMA, and external partner organizations, including the Atlantic Council, Georgetown Climate Center, Groundwork USA, and National Association of County and City Health Officials.

Visit EPA’s Let’s Talk About Heat Challenge webpage to learn more about the challenge winners and view honorable mentions that target important audiences for heat risk messaging including families in public housing, older adults, pregnant people and athletes.

Related Article:

-- Gov. Wolf: 2021 Climate Impacts Report Projects Pennsylvania Will Be 5.9° F Warmer by Midcentury, Precipitation To Increase, Targets Areas to Reduce Risk

[Posted: August 31, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

Conventional Oil & Gas Drillers Reported Spreading 977,671 Gallons Of Untreated Drilling Wastewater On PA Roads In 2021

More complete DEP records now show conventional oil and gas drillers reported spreading 977,671 gallons of untreated drilling wastewater on Pennsylvania's roads in 2021, according to an updated report by the
Better Path Coalition released Wednesday.

This brings the total of untreated wastewater reported spread on roads by conventional operators from 2018 through 2021 to 3,259,405 gallons.

A study released in May by Penn State University analyzed conventional drilling wastewater spread on roads for 31 chemicals and pollutants and found 25 of the parameters exceed, and in many instances far exceed, established health or environmental standards.  Read more here.

These parameters include harmful pollutants like barium, strontium, lithium, iron, manganese, Total Dissolved Solids and radioactive radium.

In December, the Department of Environmental Protection determined the road dumping of untreated conventional drilling wastewater did not meet state Residual Waste regulations for co-products and was therefore being done illegally, although it is still being done according to reports from the field.  Read more here.

The updated Moratorium Morass briefing report released by the Better Path Coalition found eight more companies were added to the list of operators spreading wastewater.

The companies that reported road dumping wastewater in 2021 include: Anderson Energy Sources, Cameron Energy, Crowley Oil, DJR Well Services, Inc, Elder Oil & Gas, Energy Resources of America, Fork Run Oil and Gas, Howard Drilling, JMG Energy, LHS Production, McComb Oil, Medina Res Dev, Millennium Oil & Gas, Missing Moon Oil, PennField Energy, River Ridge Gravel, Stedman Energy, SLT Production, Tachoir Resources, Titusville Oil & Gas Assoc and VISTA OPR, according to DEP’s records.

These companies reported road dumping their drilling wastewater in Butler, Clarion, Crawford, Erie, Forest, McKean, Mercer, Venango and Warren counties.

“The continued abuse of the Coproduct Determination program signals the need to outlaw road spreading once and for all,” said Karen Feridun, Co-founder of the Better Path Coalition. “The DEP continues to make an artificial distinction between unconventional drillers who have been barred from spreading fracking waste for years and conventional drillers, when the conventional drilling industry openly admits that most operators today frack. There’s no difference. Fracking waste is fracking waste. Period.”

Under the Coproduct Determination program, owners of waste can determine whether or not their waste is equivalent to a commercial product. If they assess that it is, they can start using or selling their product without having to notify the Bureau of Waste Management. The assessment should be written in a report that can be turned over to the Bureau upon request.  Read more here.

In 2021, the Bureau began reaching out to drillers to request determinations. Some never responded and two requested more time. The determinations submitted by those who did respond did not conform to the program’s regulatory requirements.  Read more here.

In May, the Department of Environmental Protection sent letters to 18 municipalities informing them that 10 drilling companies had spread waste illegally.   Read more here.

One of them, Energy Resources of America, Inc., had not responded to the agency’s outreach as of December of 2021. 

It was among the six companies identified in the letters that continued spreading waste on roads in 2021 and the only to report spreading more waste last year than it did in 2020. The six companies are responsible for roughly 43% of the waste spread in 2021.

The coalition is submitting the report to Governor Wolf who ordered DEP to review compliance records of conventional drillers and report the results by September 1 in hopes that our report will assist him in his own review of the data.  Read more here.

For more information, read the updated Moratorium Morass briefing report by Better Path Coalition.

Related Article This Week:

-- Only 15 Out Of 256 Conventional Oil & Gas Operators Who Abandoned Wells Without Plugging Them Were Fined By DEP; Small Penalties No Deterrent To Future Abandonments  [8.30.22]

Related Articles:

-- Millions Of Gallons Of Conventional Oil & Gas Wastewater Spread Illegally On Dirt Roads, Companies Fail To Comply With DEP Waste Regulations  [12.13.21]

-- Penn State Study: Potential Pollution Caused By Road Dumping Conventional Oil & Gas Wastewater Makes It Unsuitable For A Dust Suppressant, Washes Right Off The Road Into The Ditch  [7.26.22]

-- Better Path Coalition Report: How To Close The Loophole Allowing Uncontrolled Road Spreading Of Conventional Oil & Gas Wastewater & Fix Oil and Gas Waste Reporting System [12.13.21]

-- Creating New Brownfields: Oil & Gas Well Drillers Notified DEP They Are Cleaning Up Soil & Water Contaminated With Chemicals Harmful To Human Health, Aquatic Life At 272 Locations In PA  [8.24.22]

-- DEP Lists 84 Townships As ‘Waste Facilities’ Where Conventional Oil & Gas Wastewater Has Been Disposed Of By Road Spreading; Municipalities Need To Do Their Due Diligence [12.27.21]

-- Conventional Oil & Natural Gas Drilling: An Industrial Machine Moving Across The PA Countryside Leaving Behind Big Liabilities & Spreading Pollution Everywhere It Goes  [8.3.22]

-- Conventional Oil & Gas Drillers Want To Rewrite Penn State Study Showing Their Drilling Wastewater Dumped On Roads Is Bad For Human Health, Environment [8.19.22]

-- Gov. Wolf Announces Evaluation Of How DEP Regulates Conventional Oil & Gas Drilling & The Industry’s Compliance With Environmental Safeguards [7.29.22]

[Posted: August 31, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

Manada Conservancy Hosts Sept. 15 Program In Hershey On How Citizen Science, Place-Based Learning Are Helping To Address Environmental Challenges

Manada Conservancy is hosting a special program September 15 called Discover Your World at the Hershey Gardens Conservatory, 170 Hotel Road in Hershey, Dauphin County at 7:00 p.m.

Advances in technology have allowed more people to participate in the scientific process. Dr. Diane Husic, Moravian University professor, author, and climate change researcher, will discuss how citizen science, phenology (the study of cyclic and seasonal natural phenomena), and place-based learning are helping to address environmental challenges. 

Dr. Diane Husic, director for the Environmental Studies and Science program at Moravian University, is involved with ecological monitoring for climate change impacts along the Kittatinny Ridge

Additionally, she attends international meetings of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change as a credentialed observer.

To register or for more information, send an email to or call 717-566-4122.

For more information on programs, initiatives, upcoming events and how you can get involved, visit the Manada Conservancy website.  Follow them on Facebook and TwitterClick Here to support their work.

[Posted: August 31, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

DEP Declares Drought Watch for 36 Counties, Asks for Voluntary Water Conservation; First Since 2020

On August 31, the Department of Environmental Protection announced the Commonwealth Drought Task Force has declared a
drought watch for 36 counties and asks for voluntary water conservation in those counties.

The following counties are on drought watch: Berks, Bucks, Bradford, Cameron, Carbon, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Dauphin, Delaware, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, McKean, Mifflin, Monroe, Montgomery, Montour, Northampton, Northumberland, Perry, Philadelphia, Pike, Potter, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Wayne, and Wyoming. 

DEP is notifying all water suppliers in these counties of the need to monitor their supplies and be prepared by updating their drought contingency plans as necessary. Varying localized conditions may lead water suppliers or municipalities to ask residents for more stringent conservation actions. 

At this time, two public water suppliers are requiring residents to reduce their water use: Galeton Borough Water Authority in Potter County and Waterville Water Association in Lycoming County. 

Six suppliers are asking residents to voluntarily reduce their water use:

-- BCI Municipal Authority, Clearfield County

-- Driftwood Boro, Cameron County

-- Jersey Shore Area Joint Water Authority, Lycoming County

-- Lock Haven, Clinton County

-- Palmerton Municipal Water Authority, Carbon County

-- Pennsylvania American Water Company – Bangor District, Carbon County

Residents on drought watch are asked to reduce their individual water use by 5 to 10%, or a reduction of three to six gallons of water per day. 

“A few counties have experienced very dry conditions over the summer, and a number of others have inched into increasingly dry conditions in recent weeks. We’re asking Pennsylvanians in all of these counties to use water wisely and follow simple water conservation tips to ease the demand for water,” said DEP Acting Secretary Ramez Ziadeh.

The Drought Watch area includes much of the Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling area in Northcentral and Northeast Pennsylvania.

The last DEP drought declaration began on August 21, 2020 which expanded to 33 counties in drought watch and three in drought warning in October, 2020 and ended in February 2021.

Click Here for a map of drought declarations that’s updated daily.

Ways to Conserve Water at Home

There are many ways to conserve water at home, including: 

-- Run water only when necessary. Don’t let the faucet run while brushing your teeth or shaving. Shorten the time you let the water run to warm up before showering. 

-- Run the dishwasher and washing machine less often, and only with full loads.

-- Water your garden in the cooler evening or morning hours, and direct the water to the ground at the base of the plant, so you don’t waste water through evaporation.

-- Water your lawn only if necessary. Apply no more than 1 inch of water per week (use an empty can to determine how long it takes to water 1 inch). Avoid watering on windy and hot days. This pattern will encourage healthier, deeper grass roots. Over-watering is wasteful, encourages fungal growth and disease, and results in shallow, compacted root systems that are more susceptible to drought.

-- When mowing your lawn, set the blades to 2-3 inches high. Longer grass shades the soil, improving moisture retention. It also grows thicker and develops a deeper root system, so it can better survive drought.

-- Check for and repair household leaks. For example, a leaking toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water daily.

-- Sweep your sidewalk, deck, or driveway instead of hosing it off.

-- Replace older appliances with high-efficiency, front-loading models that use about 30 percent less water and 40-50 percent less energy.

-- Install low-flow plumbing fixtures and aerators on faucets.

-- Set up a rain barrel to be ready to repurpose rain when it does fall. For information, see this Penn State Extension guide.

Find more tips at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Start Saving Water webpage.

How DEP Determines Drought Conditions

To determine drought conditions, DEP assesses information on public water supply levels and data on four indicators: precipitation, surface water (stream and river) flow, groundwater level, and soil moisture. 

Declarations aren’t based on one indicator alone, such as precipitation.  

The DEP Drought Coordinator monitors the indicators in close partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which maintains gauges in streams and wells in many locations across Pennsylvania. 

There are normal ranges for all four indicators. DEP makes drought status recommendations after assessing departures from these ranges for all indicators for periods of 3-12 months. 

For a map that’s updated daily to show the status of all four indicators for each county, see the USGS Pennsylvania drought condition monitoring webpage.

DEP shares these data and its recommendations with the state and federal agencies and other organizations that make up the Commonwealth Drought Task Force. Drought watch and warning declarations are determined by DEP, with the concurrence of the task force. 

Drought emergency declarations follow the same process, with final approval by the governor.  No county is in drought warning or emergency status at this time.

For more information on how DEP monitors conditions and makes drought status declarations, see the drought management fact sheet.

The next Commonwealth Drought Task Force meeting will be on Tuesday, September 13, 2022, at 1:00 PM.

For more information on drought-related actions, visit DEP’s Drought Information webpage.

Resource Links - Penn State Extension

-- Saving Water In An Emergency

-- Household Water Conservation

-- Managing Your Well During Drought

-- How To Garden During Drought Conditions

-- Water Conservation Tips For Irrigating Lawns

-- Managing Horse Pasture During And After A Drought

-- Why Conserve Water? [Video]

(Reprinted from a special Drought edition of the Watershed Winds newsletter from Penn State Extension.  Click Here to sign up for your own copy.)

[Posted: August 31, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

Subscribe To Receive Updates:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner