Chesapeake Bay Foundation calls for $20 million to fight pollution in Susquehanna River basin

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Route 30 river bridge

RAPHO TWP., Pa. – The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is calling on the federal government to provide additional funding to curb pollution in the Susquehanna river.

The foundation is calling for $20 million in funding for five counties that they say are adding the most nitrogen pollution to the Susquehanna river, and in turn, the Chesapeake Bay.

“We would see the most rapid acceleration, a jump-start if you will, of conservation efforts on the ground in order to improve the local rivers and streams and the Chesapeake Bay commitments that Pennsylvania and the other states have,” Harry Campbell, state director for the foundation, said.

Much of that pollution comes from farming practices and runoff that ends up in local creeks and streams.

Lancaster County, just by sheer size and volume is the biggest culprit.

“If being called the biggest polluter is what it takes to get the money we’re okay with that,” Chris Thompson, with the Lancaster County Conservation District, said. “We would like to get the money to get the work done on the ground.”

Lancaster, combined with York, Adams, Franklin and Cumberland counties contribute more than 30 million pounds of nitrogen pollution in the river every year.

But experts say if the effort is successful, it could cut that number by as much as 50 percent.

As the state is trying to meet pollution reduction goals for the Chesapeake Bay by 2025, they say such a reduction would take a big step toward meeting those goals.

“In Lancaster County, we have a lot of farmers that are very progressive and willing to do the work that’s needed to get the work done, but resources are definitely a problem,” Thompson said.

The funding would help implement conservation practices like restoring streamside forests that keep loose sediment from seeping into the streams, and the foundation says it can use data to figure out where to do this.

“We can actually precisely identify within a county where we want to put our resources and the types of practices that will get the most bang for the buck, the most return on investment in clean water and healthy soils,” Campbell said.