$12.2 Million Awarded to Support Restoring Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

PENNSYLVANIA — The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) this week awarded $12.2 million in 2023 Countywide Action Plan (CAP) Implementation Grants to county teams across Pennsylvania’s share of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed to support their progress in reducing nutrient and sediment pollution to restore the health of local streams, rivers, and lakes.

“In every county, local leaders and partners in agriculture, conservation, and other areas are carrying out measures they’ve determined will have the biggest impact in reducing pollution and bringing the benefits of a healthy watershed to their communities,” said DEP Acting Secretary Ramez Ziadeh. “DEP is committed to doing everything it can to support this unprecedented grassroots action and progress. The 2023 CAP Implementation funding will enable teams to build on their previous years’ successes and launch new projects, accelerating Pennsylvania’s Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan.”

Like the other jurisdictions in the watershed — New York, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia — Pennsylvania is mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to lower its nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) and sediment pollution levels by 2025. Pennsylvania is required to reduce nitrogen by 32.5 million pounds and phosphorus by 850,000 pounds.

Under the Wolf Administration, Pennsylvania has made unprecedented progress, lowering nitrogen by more than 9 million pounds and phosphorus by 300,000 pounds.

The 2023 CAP Implementation Grants include $9.3 million from the state Environmental Stewardship Fund and $2.9 million from EPA. About $1.6 million of the EPA funding is the first installment of Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) funds coming to DEP for the watershed. As EPA announced in May, Pennsylvania is slated to receive $5.6 million annually over five years in IIJA funding for projects in the watershed, with a focus on the southern section, where nutrient and sediment pollution levels are higher. This first IIJA funding is targeted to Franklin, Lancaster, and York counties.

The 2023 CAP Implementation Grants were awarded to:

  • Adams County Conservation District: $318,149
  • Bedford County Conservation District: $392,424
  • Berks County Conservation District: $104,511
  • Blair County Conservation District: $95,706
  • Bradford County Conservation District: $276,306
  • Cambria County Conservation District: $85,860
  • Centre County Government: $389,876
  • Chester County Conservation District: $281,527
  • Clearfield County Conservation District: $117,404
  • Clinton County Commissioners: $188,817
  • Cumberland County Commissioners: $570,360
  • Franklin County Conservation District: $1,035,542
  • Fulton County Conservation District: $241,854
  • Huntingdon County Conservation District: $175,445
  • Lackawanna County Conservation District: $225,162
  • Lancaster County Conservation District: $3,066,264
  • Lebanon County Conservation District: $451,234
  • Luzerne Conservation District: $45,557
  • Lycoming County Commissioners: $306,407
  • Montour County Conservation District: $436,064 for Montour, Columbia, and Sullivan counties
  • Northumberland County Conservation District: $297,556
  • Potter County Conservation District: $63,534
  • Schuylkill Conservation District: $181,753
  • Snyder County Conservation District: $556,219 for Snyder and Union counties
  • Susquehanna County: $129,535
  • Tioga County Conservation District: $185,807
  • Tri-County Regional Planning Commission: $1,036,915 for Dauphin, Perry, Juniata, and Mifflin counties
  • York County Planning Commission: $1,042,938

Nutrient pollution and eroded sediment enter streams, rivers, and lakes from wastewater treatment and a range of human activities on land, including using too much fertilizer, plowing and tilling farm fields, stripping away trees and vegetation, and expanding concrete and paved surfaces.

Along with state and sector efforts, CAPs are a key component of Pennsylvania’s Chesapeake Bay Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan to reduce this pollution. All 34 counties that were asked to develop a CAP have done so, and partners have launched a range of projects.

“We’re thankful for DEP’s support for the broad grassroots work happening in Lancaster County to improve stream health,” said Allyson Gibson, Lancaster Clean Water Partners. “This new funding will fuel our project to enlist multiple landowners with connected sections of stream to install conservation practices all at the same time, to get streams off the impaired list. This will help accelerate our progress toward Lancaster’s goal of clean and clear local waterways by 2040.”

The Phase 3 WIP takes a Healthy Waters, Healthy Communities approach, inviting county teams to take control of local water quality improvement, with state and other partners 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.

Countywide action teams launched the most diverse range of projects and initiatives in the watershed to date in 2021, including not only stream restorations, streambank tree plantings, and livestock crossing installations, but also an initiative to scale up forest land conservation, programs that rent no-till equipment to farmers for low or no cost, and use of repurposed-timber mats to keep cows from compacting muddy areas. For stories, see the DEP Healthy Waters, Healthy Communities 2021 annual report.

All or part of 43 counties are in Pennsylvania’s share of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The area spans half the state and includes over 12,000 miles of polluted streams and rivers.

For the latest news on everything happening in Chester County and the surrounding area, be sure to follow MyChesCo on Google News and Microsoft Start.