WEST CHESTER (December 29, 2021) – The Chester County Conservation District will receive nearly $570,000 in state grant funding to improve the health of local streams, rivers, and lakes by reducing nutrient and sediment pollution.
The funds come as part of $17.4 million in total grant funding awarded to projects in 33 counties across the Chesapeake Bay Watershed to implement countywide action plan projects and verify pollution-reducing best management practices.
“These investments are important to building on our ongoing success in managing and stemming the impacts of agricultural runoff, a leading nonpoint source of pollution to our streams, rivers, and lakes,” Comitta, who serves as minority chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, said. “By working with Pennsylvania communities and farmers, municipalities, businesses, and other landowners, we can better protect our environmental health, our public health, and our economic health.”
Pennsylvania’s share of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed spans half the state and includes over 12,000 miles of polluted streams and rivers. Nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) pollution and eroded sediment enter streams, rivers, and lakes from widely dispersed human activities on the land, such as using too much fertilizer, plowing and tilling farm fields, stripping away trees and vegetation, and expanding concrete and paved surfaces.
The funding is geared toward enabling county teams and partners to build on the record progress Pennsylvania is making in the watershed. It includes $15 million from the Pennsylvania Environmental Stewardship Fund, primarily the Growing Greener Program, and $2.4 million from EPA.
“Pennsylvania has begun to achieve real change to improve the health of the watershed, thanks directly to hard work being done by county-level teams of government, nonprofit, and private-sector partners,” said Gov. Wolf. “It’s crucial that their unprecedented momentum be sustained by broad support. Their actions will benefit our drinking water, protect the long-term viability of our farms and outdoor recreation economy, and help our communities reduce flooding and attract business.”
“With 26 counties developing plans this year, all 34 counties that were asked to develop Countywide Action Plans to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution have now completed them,” said Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Reaching this exciting milestone attests to the growing understanding among landowners and community leaders of the value of healthy water ecosystems to Pennsylvanians’ quality of life and livelihoods. DEP is committed to supporting these local partnerships as they follow now with action.”
Nitrogen runoff pollution was reduced by more than 4 million pounds in 2020, with half the reduction coming from agriculture and half from the wastewater treatment sector. Also, more than a half-million acres of cropland were in compliance with nutrient and manure management practices last year.
Farmers used enhanced nutrient management on more than 305,500 acres of cropland in 2020. Going above and beyond standard nutrient management, this approach applies fertilizer in a 4R approach: right time, right source, right place, and right rate.
“Increasingly, farmers recognize that soil, nitrogen, and phosphorus running off the land into streams is a symptom of a farm operating at less than peak efficiency. For many, the pandemic underscored the importance of ensuring their farm’s future viability, which requires stewardship of their soil and water today,” said Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding.
In addition, last year more than 17 miles of streams were fully restored, and tens of thousands of trees were planted, many through programs by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.