"Polluted runoff from urban and agricultural areas, along with wastewater, degrades water quality here and downstream," said Jacqui Bonomo, vice president and COO of PennFuture. "The state has a key role to play in the health of the Chesapeake Bay."
Faced with mounting pressure from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state environmental groups, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced an interdepartmental strategy to “reboot” the state’s efforts towards restoring our local waters and, ultimately, Chesapeake Bay water quality.
The plan, jointly developed by DEP and the departments of Agriculture and Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), outlines six areas of improvement:
1. Address pollutant reduction by: (a) meeting the EPA goal of inspecting 10 percent of farms and municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) in the watershed annually, (b) ensuring that farmers develop and follow manure management and erosion and sediment control plans, and (c) enforcement for non-compliance
2. Quantify undocumented Best Management Practices (BMPs) in watersheds impaired by agriculture or stormwater and put more high-impact, low-cost BMPs on the ground
3. Improve reporting, record-keeping, and data systems to provide better documentation and obtain maximum credit toward Bay pollution reduction goals
4. Identify legislative, programmatic, and regulatory changes to provide additional tools and resources necessary to meet federal pollution reduction goals by 2025
5. Establish a DEP Chesapeake Bay Office to coordinate development and implementation, of Pennsylvania’s Chesapeake Bay efforts
6. Obtain additional resources for water quality improvement
|Jim Hershey of Hershey Farms shows Sec. Redding the engineering in farm equipment that will help meet Federal Clean water standards and help to restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. |
Photo via: Commonwealth of PA
To get there, the DEP hopes the reboot will intensify regulatory presence, increase funding for inspections and staff, and improve the documentation of pollution reduction within the state. Additionally, it seeks to create a culture of compliance among all the land-users within the watershed.
As John Quigley, Secretary of the DEP, said in the webinar announcing the reboot: “It’s clear that the DEP cannot do this work alone and be successful.”
Sam Boden is a Messiah College student interning at PennFuture in Harrisburg. He is passionate about sustainable and effective environmental policy at the state and federal level.