It is labeled as the "Chesapeake Bay Program," but it means clean water for Pennsylvania. That's why we're alarmed by the proposed federal budget that would eliminate all funding for this critical program.
Though the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's budget is not at stake, we're concerned about the fate of EPA's Chesapeake Bay Program because it plays an important role in coordinating and sustaining the federal/state partnership to restore the Bay and its rivers and streams. Most of the Bay Program's $73 million budget is distributed as grants to the Commonwealth and other states and Washington, D.C. to develop and implement pollution-reduction plans.
But where exactly does the money go and how does it support clean water? In Pennsylvania, Bay Program support goes to state and county agencies and nonprofits to help farmers and municipalities in designing and installing measures to cut down on polluted runoff. Bay Program money also provides fundamental support for water quality monitoring of rivers and streams feeding the Bay.
If this money is lost, projects likes these could be at stake:
- A development of a cost-effective regional polluted runoff-reduction effort in York County.
- Restoration of the drinking water in the Octoraro Reservoir through work with Plain Sect farmers in Lancaster County.
- Reduction of flooding and polluted runoff into the vulnerable and world class trout fishery, LeTort Spring in Carlisle, Cumberland County.
Those efforts are paying off. Monitoring of water quality shows pollution is going down. The Bay and its rivers are streams are the cleanest they've been in decades.
But the proposed federal budget threatens to derail this success. The crippling effect that eliminating the Bay Program would have on pollution-reduction efforts in Pennsylvania is unacceptable and cannot be allowed to happen.
We urge you to make it loud and clear to Congress that clean water counts in Pennsylvania. Join more than 25,000 concerned CBF members, and sign our petition urging Congress to keep the Chesapeake Bay Program fully funded. If you've already done so—great! Please go one step further and call your members of Congress to let them know how important it is to fully fund the Bay Program. Click here to find phone numbers.
Pennsylvanians are already standing up for clean water. Actions like this are so important because losing significant investments from the Chesapeake Bay Program couldn't come at a worse time for Pennsylvania. While our rivers and streams are cleaner, the progress is tenuous, and the Commonwealth is facing significant state budget shortfalls.
But clean water is good for Pennsylvania's economy. A 2014 economic analysis found that fully implementing the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint would increase the value of the Commonwealth's natural benefits by $6.2 billion a year.
Roughly 19,000 miles of Pennsylvania rivers and streams are fouled by pollution. Without critical support from the Chesapeake Bay Program, progress will be reversed. Our economy, our health, and our quality of life will suffer.
—Harry Campbell, CBF's Pennsylvania Executive Director
To say that now is the Chesapeake Bay's moment in time has never been more true. Take action right now to urge Congress to reject the proposed federal budget and protect our Bay and rivers and streams.
The following first appeared in the York Dispatch.
Now is the time for Pennsylvanians to stand up for clean water and let elected officials know they should make reducing pollution a higher priority.
Tell legislators considering budgets at the state and federal levels to follow-through with more investments in clean water that protect the health, livelihood, and economic welfare of every Pennsylvanian and those downstream.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation's (CBF) State of the Bay report indicates that the Clean Water Blueprint is improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay, but Pennsylvania's efforts lag far behind the other principle Bay states.
Unfortunately, the message hasn't changed much in recent years. Roughly 19,000 miles of the Keystone State's rivers and streams are harmed by pollution.
Agriculture is the leading source of water pollution, so Pennsylvania needs more acres of stream-side trees, fewer cattle in the streams, and healthier soils. But at the state level, Pennsylvania's investments in pollution reduction are an affront to all who care about safe water.
The proposed budget for fiscal year 2017-18 is the second consecutive plan since the Commonwealth committed to a new clean water strategy that does not include adequate investments in the right places and on the right practices to ensure Blueprint success.
General Fund support for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has been cut by $94 million since 2002-03 and the agency has 800 fewer staff members.
Pennsylvania's investments in Growing Greener programs that support conservation districts, stream restoration, stormwater efforts and more, have gone down 75 percent in the last 16 years.
Reduced financial support for DEP, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, seriously threatens their abilities to assure public health and provide clean water that is the right of every Pennsylvanian.
The Environmental Protection Agency notified the DEP, and it should be a warning to Pennsylvanians, that because it lacks resources, the agency cannot enforce minimum federal safe drinking water regulations.
In addition to increasing support through in the General Fund, we urge state lawmakers to pursue additional sources of revenue, so the Commonwealth can meet the commitment it made to its citizens to help restore and protect our rivers and streams.
Ninety percent of Pennsylvanians who responded to a 2015 Penn State University survey said they support investments in saving clean water, forests, and farms.
Investments in federal Farm Bill programs also play a critical role in the ability of Pennsylvania farmers to reduce pollution, improve soil health, and make their farms more profitable.
CBF has joined the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, conservation districts, Audubon Pennsylvania and 500 other organizations nationwide asking members of the congressional Budget and Appropriations committees to reject calls for cuts to 2018 Farm Bill programs.
We expect Pennsylvania's own members of Congress to remember that clean water counts, and to likewise protect Farm Bill investments.
Clean water is a legacy worth leaving future generations. Legislators at all levels must remember that the health, way of life, and economic well being of every Pennsylvanian depend on it.
—Harry Campbell , CBF Pennsylvania Executive Director
The following first appeared in the Bay Journal.
The saying goes: "It takes a village." To fully implement the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint, governments, businesses, and citizens all must do their part. Every day, I meet people working to reduce pollution and restore local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake. What I have learned is that Bay's village is huge. Few get the credit they deserve. As we enter the new year, I would like to share three stories. There are many thousands more.
Chesapeake Bay technician Brady Seeley is on the frontline, conducting farm inspections in Cumberland County as part of Pennsylvania's renewed effort to get pollution reduction back on track. The state Department of Environmental Protection asked conservation districts to inspect 10 percent of farms in Pennsylvania's portion of the Bay watershed for the required manure management and erosion and sediment plans.
Some conservation districts opted not to do inspections, fearing they might strain relations with farmers.
But the process has gone smoothly in the Cumberland County Conservation District, thanks to Seeley's familiarity with farmers and his experience growing up on a small dairy farm in the Keystone State. He has been with the district nearly three years.
He is finding areas that need to be improved. After meeting with one farmer, Seely said, "He had a conservation plan but not a manure management plan and agreed to seek technical assistance to get it written. You can go out and tell the farmer he is in violation and then it's not hard in the next sentence to tell the farmer let us help you get those plans."
Mark Foster is the founder and executive director of Second Chance, Inc. in Baltimore. His nonprofit aims for a "triple bottom line." It strives to give people, material, and the environment a second chance at new life. Second Chance provides green collar jobs to some of the city's residents who find job seeking most difficult, including those coming out of prison and those recovering from drug and alcohol addictions. The workforce deconstructs houses and salvages materials for sale at a Ridgely Street warehouse near M&T Bank Stadium.
Foster started Second Chance 13 years ago. He was a homeowner trying to refurbish a house built in 1902. He found it difficult to find replacement pieces and parts. Most old homes were simply demolished, and the remains dumped in landfills. Now, Second Chance workers demolish more than 200 homes a year, saving nearly everything for resale and have kept 10,502,118 pounds of post-construction waste out of landfills so far in 2016.
Foster is determined that Second Chance stretch its environmentalism even more. Next year, Second Chance plans to install rain gardens in its parking lot and solar panels on its roof. Inspired, in part, by volunteering with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation when he was in high school, Foster said that he wants to help the Chesapeake get a second chance.
The Carcamo Family
In Richmond, Efrain Carcamo and his three children walk the banks of the James River several times a month to hunt litter. On each trip, they fill bags with beer cans, plastic bottles, and other trash. For years, Carcamo has repeated this routine in a personal effort to clean up the river.
Growing up on a farm in El Salvador, Carcamo learned to respect the environment. Since moving to the United States as a teen, he's been drawn to restoring the rivers and streams that flow to the Bay.
Carcamo's contribution to clean water stretches beyond the untold amount of trash he has removed from the James. He's inspiring others to take action. That starts with his three young children, who eagerly join in efforts to fight pollution.
By being out regularly along heavily used stretches of the river, he's also an example to the many people who see him cleaning up. "I meet a lot of people from different backgrounds out here, from all levels of society, different races," he said. After speaking with him, some follow in his footsteps. "When they realize there is someone doing it, they get courage and they start doing it themselves," Carcamo said.
We all know that the Bay's problems are larger than trash or inadequate manure management. Nonetheless, these individuals are demonstrating the difference they can make and the good they can create. They are Chesapeake Bay stewards.
As we reach the midpoint of the Clean Water Blueprint, we are seeing progress. The water is clearer, the dead zone is getting smaller and Bay grass populations are up significantly. But there is much more work that needs to be done.
In 2017, it will be more important than ever that our elected officials know that we value our rivers, streams and the Bay. So please contact them to let them know that clean water is not a luxury, it is a right.
—Will Baker, CBF President
Chesapeake Bay Foundation educators Tom Parke and Emily Thorpe took advantage of an unseasonably warm winter day in Pennsylvania, to wash life vests, check canoes for needed repairs, and reflect on the Susquehanna Watershed Environmental Education Program's (SWEEP) 26th year of connecting students with their local waterways.
SWEEP guides students in grades 6 to 12, college level groups, and teachers through a series of water quality experiences designed to reinforce in-class lessons and emphasize the importance of clean water.
Parke, Thorpe, and their fleet of ten canoes floated over 1,700 students across waters in Pennsylvania's portion of the Bay watershed during the spring and fall seasons in 2016. During the summer months, they hosted about 75 teachers at workshops and courses.
Since it began, SWEEP has conducted over 2,000 programs and involved about 45,000 participants in its spring and fall Environmental Education Days.
Thorpe says SWEEP's core purpose is to, "connect kids and people in general with their local rivers and streams, emphasize the importance that it has in their daily lives. It's this sometimes invisible system that we all rely on. The importance of watersheds is one of the big things they learn," she adds. "Everyone has an impact on that watershed and is affected by its health."
"We get out to a wide geography. Our goal is to connect people to their local rivers and streams and the mission of the organization to 'Save the Bay,'" Parke says. He has been with CBF for eight years. "That isn't going to happen unless you work throughout the entire watershed. You can't have a clean Bay without clean local streams."
Students enjoy the opportunity to paddle a canoe and investigate the health of local waterways through a variety of hands-on activities like up-close studies of the bugs and other species living in the water. They study the physical characteristics of the waterway, the shoreline, and adjoining lands. They use water chemistry tests to determine quality and use maps to orient themselves with their specific watershed.
Because of changing conditions, flexibility is important, even with a set curriculum. Low water levels across the Commonwealth contributed to the SWEEP lesson plans in 2016.
"The drought really made for a different canoe experience, sometimes not in good ways with having to get out and drag boats over rocks and things," Thorpe says. She will be with CBF for two-and-a-half years in the spring. "Sometimes it was cool and interesting that the river stayed really clear. Kids could see into the grass beds and see fish swimming all around in the river."
The outdoor learning environment brings out a different side of the students. "Students who are more problematic in the classroom, that may have difficulties keeping it all together in the classroom, are on task the entire time when they are outside, and teachers are always surprised by that," Thorpe says. "The students want to be outside or be more physically engaged doing something. All of the problems that may arise for the student in the classroom disappear once they are outside and engaged."
"You get city students completely out of their comfort zone," Parke says of their time on the water. "We go to western PA, northern Cambria County, these kids come out in camo and muck boots, every student in the group. Compared to your average Joe, these are outdoors students."
Students learn and form their opinions from the discoveries they make. "Some kids have never held a fish or didn't know there were bugs that live in the water," Thorpe says. "So when they see that quantity of life, they might think that the water quality is really good. Maybe all we're catching are shiners or water striders, and Tom and I are thinking 'not such a good day on the creek.' But to that kid maybe it is showing them there is life out there that they didn't know about previously."
Critters are important to the curriculum. "It's like asking the locals," Parke says. "The life in the water lives there 24/7, so you use the life to gain a long-term perspective of what's happening in the water."
"It's a little easier to connect with critters than it is to data," Thorpe adds. "Living things are a little more charismatic. The more questions you can ask about it the more excited students get about it. If it has a funny mouth shape or funny color, they are gonna latch onto something about it and ask questions."
"Amphibians are always so important," Parke says. "Things like salamanders, because they respirate through their skin and are so vulnerable to their surroundings. They are fun critters to catch, hold, and see. The important thing is we are finding them. They are here for a reason."
"Brook trout are always exciting," Thorpe adds. "Even if the kids don't know what one is. We found one with the Steam Academy in York in this tiny tributary of Lake Redman and so it was very cool to see them there. We didn't know they were there."
In this outdoor classroom, size matters. "Get a 14-inch crappie and people are gonna be excited," Parke says. "Big hellgrammites and big crawfish. Big and dramatic."
Parke wants the takeaway for the thousands of SWEEP students should be "that water quality is determined by runoff and what's happening on the land, so they are thinking about the connection to the land and how it affects the water."
In SWEEP, fun is an important tool for connecting young people with water quality. "We're always pushing enjoyment when on the water and that's where we see the connection take place," Parke adds. "If they enjoy it, they want to protect it."
SWEEP's fleet of canoes will shove off again in March.
—B.J. Small, CBF's Pennsylvania Media and Communications Coordinator
One of my most vivid collegiate memories occurred on the banks of a central Pennsylvania lake. While out in the field for an environmental science class, the Professor pointed out a handful of geese pecking away at underwater grasses and asked the class, "What should we do with these geese?" Upon the reply of several students saying we should protect them, he bellowed out, "WRONG! We should shoot them all!"
Despite the crassness of his response, his point resonates—invasive species can have major consequences on the ecological health of our rivers, streams, and the native species that call them home.
This week, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released a study revealing that Pennsylvania's native brook trout is threatened by the invasive brown trout. Brook trout are commonly regarded as a "canary in the coal mine" for pollution, as they require cold and clean water for survival. As such, brook trout are particularly susceptible to warming waters as the result of climate change.
The USGS study found that the presence of the invasive brown trout is another significant challenge for the brook trout, as the brown trout has higher tolerance to warmer waters and competes with the brook trout for food sources.
Brook trout are a hallmark of Pennsylvania's rivers and streams. As a great indicator for healthy water, their dwindling population is telling. In addition to the need for strong fisheries management to address harmful invasive species, we need to fully implement the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. Our children and grandchildren deserve clean water, and the proliferation of the brook trout will indicate we are headed in the right direction.
This Week in the Watershed: Oyster Balance, Eel Abundance, and A Pennsylvania Hallmark
- Oysters present quite a challenge in striking a balance between the short-term needs of watermen and long-term needs of a sustainable fishery. (WRC—VA)
- Invasive species combined with the effects of climate change are a brutal combination for Pennsylvania's native brook trout. (USGS Press Release)
- Local residents in Maryland's Howard County are pushing for financial incentives to push commercial property owners to implement practices to reduce polluted runoff. (Howard County Times—MD)
- Eels are returning in abundance to the Susquehanna River, leaving environmentalists hopeful other species such as mussels will follow suit. (Bay Journal)
- Bravo to CBF's Bill Portlock, who received the Garden Club of Virginia's Elizabeth Cabell Dugdale Award for Conservation. Portlock has been with CBF since 1981 as an environmental educator, restoration leader, and accomplished photographer. (Free Lance Star—VA)
- Amidst debates over oyster harvesting, Maryland is looking at Virginia for lessons learned. (Bay Journal)
- CBF is working to clean Virginia's Hampton River through planting oysters. (Daily Press—VA)
What's Happening around the Watershed?
- Portsmouth, VA: Come on out to a fun-filled, family-friendly annual event that combines educational engagement and ecological stewardship. RIVER-Fest '16 will emphasize practices and activities that will sustain and improve the health of the Elizabeth River. CBF is looking for 6-8 volunteers to assist with a variety of activities. Please contact Tanner Council to register or for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org or 757-622-1964.
- Broadway, VA: Come on out and help us plant hundreds of native trees and shrubs on a picturesque farm in the Shenandoah Valley. Volunteers should bring a sun hat, sun screen, and work gloves. Volunteers are also asked to bring a packed lunch. Light refreshments will be provided. This planting event is suitable for children closely supervised by adults. Please RSVP by November 30 to Robert Jennings at 484-888-2966 or RJennings@cbf.org.
- Norfolk, VA: Join us for a presentation on what is often called,"the most important fish in the sea"—menhaden. An expert panel will discuss why menhaden matter and the future prospects for the fishery. This event is part of the Blue Planet Forum — a free environmental lecture series with a mission to educate and engage the public on important environmental issues affecting Hampton Roads and the nation. The event is free, but registration is requested — Register here!
—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate
Cumberland County Setting the pace for Farm Inspections in Pennsylvania's Rebooted Clean Water Strategy
Cumberland County is getting positive reaction from farmers, as one of 28 conservation districts conducting farm inspections as prescribed in Pennsylvania's rebooted strategy to reduce pollution from agriculture.
As conservation districts in nine counties opted out of doing farm inspections for fear of straining relations they have with farmers, the process within the Cumberland County Conservation District (CCCD) is going smoothly because of its familiarity with farmers.
"Our two technicians know the county, kinds of crops farmers are growing and the landscape," says CCCD board chairman Wilbur Wolf, Jr. "When they need to talk to farmers about future improvement, they can do it. If somebody from DEP (state Department of Environmental Protection) comes to the farm, they are not as familiar with the county and the resources in order to make an informed decision when it comes to the best practices suited for that farm."
"We're acting as an intermediary to help farmers get into compliance," CCCD manager Carl Goshorn adds. Cumberland is the fastest growing county in the Commonwealth with about 500 farmers and 1,400 different tracts of land.
Roughly 19,000 miles of rivers and streams in Pennsylvania are damaged by pollution and the Commonwealth is significantly behind in meeting its Clean Water Blueprint goals. The Blueprint requires that 60 percent of pollution reduction practices be in place by 2017, and 100 percent in place by 2025. The Commonwealth has acknowledged that it will not meet the 2017 goal.
As part of the Keystone State's strategy to get back on track, the DEP asked conservation districts to inspect ten percent of farms annually for the required manure management, and erosion and sediment plans. There are 33,600 farms in Pennsylvania's portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed and DEP inspected less than two percent of them in 2014.
Conservation districts conducting inspections receive funding from DEP to support Bay technician staff and will inspect a minimum of 50 farms annually, per full-time person. DEP will inspect farms in counties where conservation districts declined to do it.
With one Bay technician, Brady Seeley, and conservation technician Jared McIntire, Cumberland County has a five-year schedule for inspections and thinks it will conduct more than the 50 required annually.
One landowner with multiple, separate parcels of land could count as multiple inspections, as each agricultural operation is inspected separately.
Eight of first nine inspections in Cumberland County lacked manure management plans and three didn't have erosion and sediment plans. Goshorn said manure management plans have already been written for two of those farms.
In addition to checking that the farms have the required plans, inspectors may observe water quality issues. They may ask permission to walk around a property, but landowners are under no obligation to grant permission.
Cumberland County was one of four counties that helped shape the inspection process by participating in the pilot program. CCCD and DEP staff visited two farms in the county. "We wanted to see how it works," Goshorn says. "We figured it would be a better way of getting in touch with the farmers and maybe getting more practices involved if we were actually doing the inspections."
"We thought, if we aren't part of the process we can't have an impact down the road," board chairman Wolf adds. "As part of the pilot we made it better for other counties going out to do inspections because we have two people who have agriculture backgrounds (Seeley and McIntire) who could go out and relate, get a sense of how to make this work, and then go back to DEP and say, 'tweak it this way and everybody else will be better off'."
Seeley grew up on a small dairy farm in northern Pennsylvania, has a bachelor's degree in environmental resource management, and has been with CCCD for over two years. McIntire majored at Penn State University in agri-business management, manages a commercial turkey operation, and has been with CCCD for almost three years.
"We have a better rapport at the county level with our farming community than DEP does," says county commissioner Jim Hertzler, who also sits on the CCCD board. "In order for it to work and encourage a cooperative effort with respect to compliance, we prefer to work with our farmers as opposed to telling them 'you are going to jail' or 'we're going to give you a big fine if you don't do something.' To actually get these practices implemented is what the goal should be as opposed to handing out penalties or punishment."
Goshorn says conservation districts that passed on doing inspections, "Don't want to wear the black hat and be the bad guys. They said they were formed to provide technical assistance to the farming community. We feel things have changed over the years."
Seeley says the CCCD can do both. "You can go out and tell the farmer he is in violation and then it's not hard in the next sentence to tell the farmer 'let us help you get those plans.' There really is no excuse to not be regulating and technical. You are already there having the conversation."
The district is able to offer some financial help. "The board has set aside money for developing these plans," chairman Wolf adds. "It's unique for a conservation district to do that." Cost share on erosion and sediment plans splits the cost with a cap of $1,000 per farmer, and $30,000 is available overall.
"The reason we want to try to get ahead is hopefully we will have farmers coming to us volunteering to do these inspections," Seeley says. The CCCD got a dozen calls from its letter introducing the program. Farmers can schedule an appointment to have their plans reviewed.
One Amish farmer called to say he didn't have either plan. "That's really nice," McIntire says. "We get these guys not afraid to call us and say 'I don't have the plan' and then we can start the conversation with them to get the ball rolling. 'Do you need us to come out there?' 'Can you come to one of our workshops?' 'Do we need to turn it over to the private sector because time is tight with you'?"
The Cumberland County Conservation District believes it can maintain its working relationships with farmers, by having familiar faces like Seeley and McIntire work through the inspection process with them, while advancing Pennsylvania's clean water efforts in challenging times.
"This is happening at a time in this county when ag prices are low, milk prices are low," board chairman Wilbur Wolf says. "We had the drought. Corn prices and yields are down. We're going out and talking to these farmers in a serious financial situation and we're getting positive responses."
Conservation districts participating in the farm inspection program are in Adams, Bedford, Berks, Blair, Cambria, Centre, Chester, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Cumberland, Fulton, Huntingdon, Indiana (covered in agreement with Cambria), Juniata, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lycoming, Mifflin, Montour, Potter, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Union, and Wyoming counties.
The nine counties that declined to participate are Bradford, Cameron, Dauphin, Franklin, Luzerne, Northumberland, Perry, Tioga, and York counties.
Cameron, Somerset, and Wayne counties have a small portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed and will be inspected by DEP personnel.
—B.J. Small, CBF's Pennsylvania Media and Communications Coordinator
The following first appeared in the York Dispatch.
Farming in Pennsylvania is the backbone of our culture, economy, and communities. Considering there are roughly 33,600 farms in Pennsylvania's portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, it's no wonder most of the polluted runoff entering our rivers and streams comes from agriculture.
A large number of farmers are driven by a culture of stewardship and have taken steps to reduce pollution by doing things to keep nitrogen and phosphorus, and soils on the land where they can do good, instead of in the water where they pollute.
Things like planting streamside forests, cover crops, and installing other practices reduce water pollution while increasing farm productivity. Streambank fencing can help improve herd health because livestock aren't standing in streams and drinking fouled water.
Some farmers and landowners can afford to pay for these practices out of their own pockets. About 7,000 farmers responded to a Penn State survey earlier this year and follow-up verification will show the scope of voluntary and independently-funded efforts.
Many other landowners need assistance. Some are fortunate to qualify for limited financial and technical assistance in the form of state and federal cost-share and grant programs. CBF works to connect landowners with available funding. But about two-thirds of farmers who apply for assistance each year don't get it because of a lack of resources.
With assistance, Bob and Maggie Cahalan were able to plant a streamside buffer of 300 native trees and shrubs to trap and filter pollutants that would otherwise flow into Ebaugh and Shaw streams on Many Streams Farm in York County.
Linn Moedinger's Lancaster farm dates back to the early 18th Century. Through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), the Moedingers were able to plant 12 acres of trees, plants and shrubs to protect Mill Creek, the Conestoga River, Susquehanna River, and Chesapeake Bay.
The benefits of state and federal assistance extend beyond the farm.
Charles "Chip" Brown is maintaining a maturing 450-tree streamside buffer along Elk Creek on his Fox Gap Rod and Gun Club property east of State College in Centre County.
Reaching Pennsylvania's clean water goals requires wise use of additional funding and technical assistance.
Toward that end, CBF analyzed federal data and found that Lancaster, York, Franklin, Cumberland, and Adams counties contribute the greatest amount of pollution from agriculture. New investments, focused on people, places, and practices in these priority counties can accelerate pollution reductions from agriculture and jumpstart the Commonwealth's lagging cleanup efforts.
After CBF called for an immediate commitment of new, targeted restoration funds, federal and state partners announced they would collaborate on an infusion of $28.7 million for clean water.
It is important that pollution reduction efforts continue in the Keystone State beyond the priority counties, from the Bennett farm in far northern Susquehanna County, where funding made fencing, forested buffers, and barnyard improvements possible, to the good work the Cahalans are doing in York County.
Meanwhile, the stream of financial and technical assistance must reach high tide, if farmers in Pennsylvania are going to do all they can to clean up our rivers and streams.
—Harry Campbell, CBF's Pennsylvania Executive Director
This week, the Chesapeake Bay Executive Council met in Boyce, Virginia. Composed of the governors of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia; the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; the mayor of the District of Columbia; representatives from New York, Delaware, and West Virginia; and the chair of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, the Council meets annually to discuss the state of water quality improvement efforts in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
While most states throughout the watershed are on track to meet their 2017 commitments through the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, Pennsylvania is seriously lagging behind, already acknowledging they will not meet their goal. With roughly 19,000 miles of rivers and streams in Pennsylvania damaged by pollution, and with the Susquehanna River providing 50 percent of the Bay's fresh water, the Bay cannot be saved until clean water is flowing through Pennsylvania's rivers and streams.
Given this reality, we are thrilled that members of the council have announced an investment of more than $28 million dollars to enhance and accelerate pollution-reduction efforts in Pennsylvania. This is great news not only for Pennsylvanians but for everyone who cares about the Bay and its rivers and streams.
Plenty of plans to save the Bay and its rivers and streams have been made in the past, but good intentions devoid of action left us in a vicious circle of empty words and dirty water. To leave a legacy of clean water to future generations, we need to fully implement the Blueprint. With greater investments in the right locations, targeting the most cost-effective pollution-reduction strategies, clean water is within our reach.
This Week in the Watershed: A Major Investment, BMPs, and A Growing Harbor
- Anglers and conservationists are upset as their pleas for stronger regulations protecting shad and river herring have been rejected. (Bay Journal)
- A farmer on Maryland's Eastern Shore has taken great strides towards sustainability, implementing several best management practices. (Carroll County Times—MD)
- The Chesapeake Executive Council met on Tuesday. Pennsylvania was the focus, receiving an injection of $28.7 million to help fund their cleanup efforts. (Bay Journal) Bonus: CBF Press Statement
- CBF's Burgers and Brews for the Bay gave attendees a firsthand look and taste of farm-to-table food. (Chambersburg Public Opinion—PA)
- A Virginia restaurant is making good use of their used oyster shells, recycling them to help restore the Bay's oyster population. (USA Today)
- Oysters are growing in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, helping clean the water and providing a great engagement opportunity with local residents and businesses. (Baltimore Fish Bowl—MD)
What's Happening around the Watershed?
- Chesapeake, VA: CBF is looking for volunteers to tell others about the amazing bivalve that is the oyster at the Waterways Heritage Festival! Two people are needed per two-hour shift. Our booth will be displaying all of our restoration activities from shell recycling to reef balls to oyster gardening and more. Click here to volunteer!
- Portsmouth, VA: Come on out to a fun-filled, family-friendly annual event that combines educational engagement and ecological stewardship. RIVER-Fest '16 will emphasize practices and activities that will sustain and improve the health of the Elizabeth River. CBF is also looking for six to eight volunteers to assist with a variety of activities. Shifts will be for three hours between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Please contact Tanner Council to register or for more information at email@example.com or 757-622-1964.
- Annapolis, MD: The Annapolis VoiCeS (Volunteers as Chesapeake Stewards) class is back! Come "back-to-school" with CBF in a six-week, professionally taught course on all things clean water. Learn about Bay science and fisheries, pollution problems and solutions, and how volunteers can help restoration efforts in their local waters and the Bay. Click here to register! Deadline to register is October 13!
- Easton, MD: The Eastern Shore VoiCeS (Volunteers as Chesapeake Stewards) class is back! Come "back-to-school" with CBF in a six-week, professionally taught course on all things clean water. Learn about Bay science and fisheries, pollution problems and solutions, and how volunteers can help restoration efforts in their local waters and the Bay. Click here to register! Deadline to register is October 13!
- Cambridge, MD: Join us at a workshop to learn more about best management practices (BMPs) to slow and filter polluted runoff. Facilitated by expert trainers with the Chesapeake Stormwater Network, this workshop is designed for local government managers and field operators with instruction in BMP inspection, maintenance, and facility failure decision-making, Participants will increase their knowledge of effectively treating polluted runoff while complying with local, state, and federal stormwater management expectations. Networking with colleagues in neighboring Eastern Shore communities enhances opportunities to learn about locally relevant problems and solutions. Click here to register!
- Virginia Beach, VA: Come on out to a sustainable living expo. This fun, family-friendly event is designed as a showcase for eco-friendly, sustainable solutions, crafts, and food, with many participating organizations. See ideas you can use at your home from edible landscaping and urban gardening to beekeeping and alternative energy. CBF is also looking for volunteers to help staff a CBF display and share information with attendees at the expo. This event is suitable for all volunteer experience levels, so come out, share, and learn. Email or call Tanner Council to inquire and volunteer at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 757-622-1964.
—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate
The following first appeared in the Patriot News.
Tim and Frances Sauder are doing their best to make ends meet while raising a young son and operating a small dairy farm in Lancaster County.
They tend to the 15 cows that provide the milk that becomes yogurt from Fiddle Creek Dairy, all the while paying close attention to the land and the water the flows through those hilly 55 acres.
"We made decisions on how we farm, in order to protect the watershed," Tim says. They have owned the farm for just four years.
"We want to farm in a way that's good for all layers of life, the water, the land, the plants, and the human community," Frances adds. "There's no easy answer and we're humbled by that."
The Sauders want to plant seven acres of trees as a 50-foot wide streamside buffer to protect the tributary to Big Beaver Creek that flows through the farm.
They also see the need to add manure storage and a composting facility, install more watering stations for the cows, and do something about the polluted runoff that floods across the road near their house after heavy rains.
Like many farmers in the Susquehanna River watershed, the Sauders understand that pollution flows downstream and want to do what is right to protect the water. But they cannot afford to pay for it all themselves.
Like other farmers too, the Sauders have applied for state and federal assistance. Sadly, there often isn't enough money to go around, so some projects never get onto the ground.
Pennsylvania is significantly behind in meeting its clean water commitments, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has identified the five counties that contribute the most pollution from agriculture and that would return the greatest reductions for new restoration dollars.
The foundation is calling on federal partners, particularly the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), to provide an initial, immediate commitment of $20 million in new restoration funds to those five counties.
This is money already in the USDA budget. In addition, our group is urging state and local governments to provide additional outreach, technical assistance, and funding.
Collectively, Lancaster, York, Franklin, Cumberland, and Adams counties contribute more than 30 million pounds of nitrogen pollution to the Chesapeake Bay each year.
After analyzing federal data, the foundation determined that focusing additional investments in these counties could reduce nitrogen pollution by 14 million pounds.
That is more than half of the entire state's Clean Water Blueprint 2025 goal for reducing nitrogen pollution.
It's disappointing to hear the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection wants to 'police' farmers
But to fully achieve the goal Pennsylvania has set, pollution reduction efforts must continue in all other counties of the Susquehanna watershed.
The Blueprint calls for 60 percent of pollution reduction efforts to be in place by 2017, and 100 percent in place by 2025.
Suppliers that sell the trees for buffers and fencing materials benefit. Excavators and builders who improve drainage to reduce polluted runoff or install manure storage and barnyard improvements get work.
It is also a win for farmers. Funding to reduce polluted runoff leads to better soil health and greater farm productivity. Herd health is protected because livestock aren't standing in streams and drinking the water.
Roughly 19,000 miles of rivers and streams in Pennsylvania have been damaged by pollution.
Such efforts as the planting of streamside buffers, that reduce nitrogen pollution, also reduce harmful phosphorus and sediment runoff.
The Chesapeake Bay Executive Council, including the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, the governors of Virginia, Maryland, New York, Delaware, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, the Mayor of Washington, D.C., and the Chair of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, will meet on Oct. 4 to identify future restoration challenges.
We expect the Council to take real action to reduce nitrogen pollution in Lancaster and other key Pennsylvania counties, and get the Commonwealth back on track toward its Blueprint commitments.
Investing in places, practices, and people like Tim and Frances Sauder and Fiddle Creek Dairy will give us the greatest pollution reductions and the clean water that Pennsylvanians deserve.
—Harry Campbell, CBF's Pennsylvania Executive Director