August 2022

Hello partners for water quality!

We have much news to share on progress by state, local, and sector partners to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution and improve water quality in Pennsylvania’s share of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
For more details on the Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan, visit the Phase 3 WIP website. For a broader educational look at nutrient and sediment pollution in local streams, rivers, and lakes in the watershed, including tips and success stories, visit Healthy Waters, Healthy Communities.
Please consider how you might join in or help support this work. Anyone interested in their county’s Phase 3 WIP County Wide Action plan can sign up to get involved. And help spread the word! Share this newsletter or the subscribe page.  
— DEP Chesapeake Bay Office

Programs and Projects by Local, State and Federal Partners

Partners across seven counties make progress toward delisting 30 agriculturally-impaired streams by the year 2030

Dozens of partners including local, state, and federal governments, conservation districts, nonprofits, watershed groups, engineering firms, and landowners are combining strengths to rapidly delist streams from the list of impaired waterways in PA’s Integrated Water Quality Report.
The goal for the program is “30 by 30,” and is an initiative announced by Gov. Wolf, Chesapeake Conservancy and its partners in April 2021 to restore 30 agriculturally-impaired streams by the year 2030.
Work is underway on 39 streams (totaling 136 miles of impairment in the Chesapeake Bay watershed) across Huntingdon, Centre, Clinton, Lycoming, Union, Snyder, and Lancaster Counties. Chesapeake Conservancy and Lancaster Clean Water Partners provide backbone support, leveraging Chesapeake Bay Program high-resolution GIS data to set data-driven goals.
Objectives include treating runoff from 17,800 acres along 18 central PA streams and installing agricultural BMPs on 7,259 acres and planting 757 acres of riparian buffers along 21 Lancaster streams. Building momentum on previously completed projects, partners have achieved 36%, 43% and 67% of the objectives, respectively.
Major funding support includes a USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Regional Conservation Partners Program (NRCS RCPP) award for Lancaster; National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction grants, DCNR’s Riparian Forest Buffers grants, DEP’s Growing Greener grants, and awards from The Hamer Foundation and The Campbell Foundation. On August 12, NRCS announced a new $10M RCPP award to central PA partners. Partners are now developing monitoring plans to track progress toward the 30 by 30 goal.
Chesapeake Conservancy and Lancaster Clean Water Partners host a training with Dustin Shull from PA DEP's Bureau of Clean Water on how DEP uses Physical Habitat Evaluations to assess stream impairments. Manheim, PA, August 11, 2022. Credit: Carly Dean

DEP submits final 2022-23 Phase 3 WIP Milestones to EPA 

DEP’s Chesapeake Bay Office provided final 2022-23 Phase 3 WIP programmatic and numeric milestone documents for EPA evaluation by the August 5 submission deadline. The final documents followed several Chesapeake Bay Office-lead, multi-agency meetings with EPA to discuss EPA’s initial evaluation and to identify potential areas for expansion and improved communication of Pennsylvania’s extensive programmatic activities.
One of the primary concerns that EPA raised in its initial evaluation earlier this year was the lack of documented milestone commitments for the 2022-2023 interim timeframe. While the draft milestones provided an extensive amount of commitments and reported progress, DEP worked together with its agency partners to further identify programmatic advancements that have been or will be made throughout 2022-2023 time period that directly relate to implementation of Pennsylvania’s Phase 3 WIP. The final programmatic milestone document identified more than 45 new 2022-2023 milestone commitments, in addition to the continuing and ongoing original milestones, that will positively impact and accelerate implementation toward 2025 WIP numeric goals. Many of those new milestones are also correlated to the numeric commitments in the numeric milestones document. 

PA Department of Agriculture Farmland Preservation project receives U.S. Department of Agriculture RCPP funding

The PA Department of Agriculture’s (PDA) Farmland Preservation and Climate Change Mitigation project will leverage state and county farmland preservation investments to complement the use of the $7.85 million in RCPP funds to install climate smart practices and systems on Pennsylvania farms.
The proposal builds on a successful 2018 RCPP award. Soil health practices and systems, as well as helping transition producers to organic production, will be the focus of the land management element of the project. Project partners will use the COMET-Farm data system to model the greenhouse gas benefits of project activities.

PA American Water helps plant nearly 2,000 trees in recognition of customers’ switch to paperless billing

On August 9, following a successful month-long paperless billing customer enrollment campaign, Pennsylvania American Water announced the donation $19,470 to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership. This past spring, the company committed to donating $10 for every customer who switched from paper to electronic bills during the month of April, enough to underwrite the cost of planting one tree, including the tree itself and a reusable stake and shelter. The campaign led to 1,947 customer conversions to paperless billing, which will result in an equivalent number of trees being planted across Pennsylvania thanks to Chesapeake Bay Foundation and its network of partners.    

Funding Available Now!

$13 Million in tax credits for farmers’ investments in improving water and soil quality

PDA Secretary Russell Redding announced the availability of $13 million in tax credits to Pennsylvania farmers for measures to improve soil and water quality. Tax credits through Pennsylvania’s innovative conservation Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) financing program can be combined with other state funding, including the Environmental Quality Incentive Program, the Chesapeake Bay Program or Conservation Excellence Grants.
PDA is now accepting applications for REAP tax credits from agricultural producers who implement best management practices or purchase equipment to reduce nutrient and sediment runoff, enhancing soil and improving the quality of Pennsylvania’s waterways. This is the fourth year of increased funding and expanded eligibility for the program under the PA Farm Bill.

DEP expands Environmental Education grant funding

DEP recently announced that $900,000 in grant funding is available for environmental education projects. Environmental Education Grants are available to schools, colleges, nonprofit community and environmental organizations, county conservation districts and businesses.
While all education project topics are considered, priority focus areas include water quality, climate change and environmental justice. For project examples, see the list of 2022 EE Grant Awards.
Projects with a local focus may receive up to $5,000, and regional or statewide initiatives may receive up to $30,000. Projects that engage students and teachers at three levels - local, state, and national - may be awarded up to $85,000.
DEP will hold a live webinar on September 27, 2022, from 12:00 to 1:30 PM regarding this grant funding. Program staff will review the application process, offer tips and answer questions. The webinar is free, but registration is required.
Electronic applications must be submitted through the Keystone Login (first-time users will need to register) by December 9, 2022.

DEP Chesapeake Bay Office

DEP’s Chesapeake Bay Office supporting and showcasing county partners

During the month of August, the Chesapeake Bay Office assisted all 34 counties in preparing their Two-Year Milestone and Annual Progress Reporting updates for their Countywide Action Plans (CAPs). Each county will submit their drafts to Chesapeake Bay Office by August 31, and Chesapeake Bay Office staff will meet with counties individually to discuss their draft documents and their progress and challenges and provide feedback as we move forward together. These CAP progress reports represent an opportunity for counties to assess their efforts and adapt and change direction, as needed, and expand on successes. They also provide Chesapeake Bay Office with the synergistic opportunity to share successes among all county partners in order to capitalize on what is working and what others can use in their counties, while also better understanding challenges that need to be addresses at the local, state and federal levels.

DEP Chesapeake Bay Office expects to receive $1,800,000 from EPA’s Infrastructure Most Effective Basins (MEB) funding

DEP Chesapeake Bay Office recently submitted an approved budget and workplan to EPA for the allocated $1,800,000 in Infrastructure MEB funds. The work in the objectives funded through the Infrastructure MEB award will support CAP implementation of practices and controls, particularly in under-represented communities. The primary goal of this work is reducing nutrients and restoring water quality in the Chesapeake Bay in accordance with the water quality and stewardship goals and outcomes outlined in the Chesapeake Bay Agreement and the Management Strategies for Clean Water and Engaged Communities. DEP Chesapeake Bay Office will dedicate $800,000 of this funding to support projects in Adams, Franklin, Lancaster and York counties. DEP Chesapeake Bay Office anticipates a final agreement and award from EPA by October 1, 2022.

DEP Chesapeake Bay Office expects to receive $3,511,446 from EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Regulatory and Accountability Program Grant

DEP Chesapeake Bay Office recently submitted an approved budget and workplan to EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Regulatory and Accountability Program. This funding, along with match from the Commonwealth’s Nutrient Management Fund and DEP’s Bay Abatement Fund, support initiatives to address nutrient and sediment reduction-related activities within the Chesapeake Bay watershed through focused implementation of Pennsylvania’s existing Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) permitting regulatory requirements, compliance monitoring, inspections, enforcement and corrective actions, technical and compliance assistance to farmers and other landowners, development of a web-based application to allow MS4s, CAFOs and other permittees to submit annual reports electronically, and resources to continue and improve Pennsylvania’s tracking, verification and reporting of BMP data, continued technical assistance, monitoring and data collection/analysis equipment used by DEP staff when performing enhanced technical assistance and finally, facilitation and communication support as needed for the Phase 3 WIP. DEP Chesapeake Bay Office anticipates a final agreement and award from EPA by October 1, 2022.

DEP Chesapeake Bay Office expects to receive $2,145,279 from EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Implementation Grant

DEP Chesapeake Bay Office recently submitted an approved budget and workplan to EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Implementation Grant program. This funding, along with match from the Commonwealth’s Environmental Stewardship Fund, support science-based decision making through water quality monitoring, innovative technologies like the Chesapeake Bay Nutrient Trading Tool (CBNTT), technical assistance capacity through engineering professionals, local leadership capacity through county-level clean water coordinators, and CAP implementation of practices and controls, particularly in under-represented communities, all integral to Pennsylvania’s Phase 3 WIP. DEP Chesapeake Bay Office anticipates a final agreement and award from EPA by October 1, 2022.

Counties in Action

Adams County makes progress on CAP implementation

Adams County is making progress in implementing CAP initiatives and projects. In the second year of their Advanced Nutrient Management Program, the Adams County Conservation District and Rosetree Consulting will exceed their goals for both Adaptive Nitrogen Management (5,000 acres) and Split Nitrogen Application (1,000 acres).  
Culp’s Run is a large stream restoration project being implemented by the Gettysburg Stormwater Authority on a property owned by the Gettysburg National Military Park. The project consists of 2,150 linear feet of stream restoration, including streambank stabilization, floodplain restoration, and placement of woody debris throughout the mainstem and two tributaries of Culp’s Run. This project is replacing what used to be a cattle pasture.    

Centre County ClearWater Conservancy preserves 8.78 acre property

On August 1, ClearWater Conservancy finalized the purchase of an 8.78-acre property located along Houserville Road in State College, Centre County, in the direct center of the Spring Creek Watershed. The property includes a barn, farmhouse, and open field on one side of Houserville Road, as well as open land across the street that sits along 1,300 feet of Spring Creek. The property was purchased from the Rockenbeck and Umberger families who are committed to ensuring the scenic, ecologically significant, and historically important property is permanently conserved and responsibly stewarded.

Clearfield County conducts outreach at a local parade

The Clearfield County Conservation District made it a priority to participate in a local parade where the theme was “Working together to keep the tradition alive!” The district didn’t hesitate to show their support; they decked out their truck with related banners, displayed one of their no-drills (which can be rented by local farmers), handed out candy and pens with contact information, and had a staff member dress as “The Corn Man” to dance and engage children in the crowd. Overall, their goal is to interact with local residents to increase awareness about district goals – resource conservation.  A big announcement at the end of the parade, in front of the Fairgrounds Grandstand, let folks know who the district is and the services they offer to ensure healthy, clean natural resources. This outreach effort put the district in the spotlight of thousands of residents and allowed them an opportunity to promote the healthy waters, healthy communities initiative. 
Clearfield CountyConservation District staff with their parade vehicle and rentable no-till drill.

Cumberland County Pre-Sidedress Nitrogen Testing program results net big benefits in nitrogen reduction 

Pre-Sidedress Nitrogen Testing (PSNT) helps determine if additional nitrogen is needed to reach the desired yield goals, limit and in some cases eliminate excess nitrogen from entering surface water entities such as adjacent streams, and may end up saving the farmer money that can be put toward other operation expenses. Cumberland County’s 2022 PSNT program had 132 fields equaling a total of 2,304 acres tested, with 21 farmers participating and just two farmers required additional nitrogen.
If all participating farmers follow the county conservation district calculated recommendation, the county could save around 247,432 pounds of excess nitrogen from being applied to the fields and potentially entering the Chesapeake Bay. This, on average, would save each participating farmer $5,891 this year. This would be a big step in helping Cumberland County reach its goal to reduce its current nutrient pollution by 2.205 million pounds of nitrogen per year.
Cumberland County Conservation District Interns Jacob Goudsward (left) and Rebecca Wenschhof collect soil samples

Drones spread cover crop seeds in Cumberland County 

Swift Aeroseed LLC, is working on a research project in Cumberland County to study if cover crop seeds spread using a drone can grow simultaneously with cash crops (like corn and soybeans) to establish a more mature cover crop prior to winter. If the seeds are able to germinate while cash crops are still in the ground, this will provide additional water quality benefits like preventing soil erosion and holding nutrients in the soil during the wintertime. Swift Aeroseed has developed a prototype drone that is capable of carrying up to 70 pounds of seed in a hopper, with a broadcast range of 60 feet. The drone is capable of seeding approximately one-acre per minute of flight time. The Cumberland County Conservation District is looking for farmers interested in participating in the pilot program. 
Swift Aeroseed LLC prototypeseeding drone

Dauphin County Paxton Creek Stream Restoration

Lower Paxton Township and Herbert, Rowland & Grubic, Inc., have made significant progress in restoring the impaired Paxton Creek watershed. Paxton Creek suffers from excessive streambank erosion and subsequently has a sediment TMDL. The activities that took place during the project and the facilities installed during the project include stream channel restoration and floodplain enhancements of approximately 1,500 linear feet of Asylum Run, the replacement of nine storm sewer outfalls ranging in diameter from 4 to 42 inches, and the replacement of two pedestrian walking bridges.

Lancaster County funding projects and growing watershed leadership

The Lancaster County Commissioners presented the Lancaster Clean Water Partners and Lancaster County Conservation District with a $3.4 million check for the 11 clean water projects funded with county American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars. This represents the largest single investment in preserving clean water in county government history. The check was presented at the Conewago Recreational Trail to highlight the three-phase, multi-municipal Conewago Creek floodplain restoration project – one of the 11 water quality projects funded. The Conewago Creek floodplain restoration project includes the implementation of stream restoration, legacy sediment removal, floodplain reconnection, and wetland creation that will lead to significant improvements to water quality, promote enhanced ecosystem resiliency and support Lancaster’s pollutant reduction goals. 
Lancaster Clean Water Partners and Lancaster County Conservation District receive ARPA funds for 11 clean water projects

Lancaster Watershed Leadership Academy accepting application for 2023 class

Lindsey Deininger, graduate of the inaugural class of the Lancaster Watershed Leadership Academy, started off wanting to find ways to make local streams as perfect as possible. She has since joined the Cocalico Creek Watershed Association and made the change to an environmental-focused career because of the Academy. To anyone thinking about joining the Academy, Lindsey says “DO IT. You won’t regret it!” The Academy supports the personal leadership development of individuals involved in the collective effort for clean water in Lancaster County. This twelve-month program is jam-packed with watershed content, field investigations, professional leadership content, and an overnight retreat on the Chesapeake Bay. Scholars walk away with an understanding of watersheds, leadership skills and application, and countless resources to integrate themselves into clean water work. Applications are due October 6, 2022, for the 2023 class. Reach out to Allyson Gibson ( with questions. 
Video of Lindsey Deininger discussing the Lancaster Watershed Leadership Academy

Luzerne County farm completes project in two months utilizing CAP Implementation funds

The Conyngham family, owners of a Luzerne County family farm, is doing its part to help protect local waterways from manure generated on the property. To do that, they turned to the Luzerne County Conservation District and to DEP’s CAP Implementation grant funds to cover the project costs. Prior to the grant assistance, the facility stacked their manure outside the barn on a hard surface and the manure travelled by way of natural springs and township road pipes into local tributaries. Water build-up from runoff was another problem. The Conynghams applied and were approved for funds from Luzerne County’s $94,000 CAP Implementation Plan for the project. They installed a 32’x32’ roofed waste storage facility and a .10-acre heavy use area to store the manure. They also added a drop box, drain culvert pipe, roof gutters and fencing to control runoff. The installed BMPs resulted in a savings of 130 pounds of nitrogen, 5.29 lbs. of phosphorous, and 175 pounds of sediment. The project was completed in two months, all in an effort to protect local waterways and the Bay!
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, 400 Market Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101