New partnership to bring $28 million to help farmers in Bay Watershed improve water quality
Boyce, VA – Governor Tom Wolf today announced that farmers in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed will be on the receiving end of $28 million in state and federal funding to assist in Pennsylvania’s efforts to minimize negative effects of runoff on local water quality and ultimately, the Bay.
“What remains clear is that Pennsylvania has been, and continues to make strides toward protecting and improving local water quality, but we know that we have additional work to do to make sure every producer is operating in a way that minimizes impacts to local water quality, and ultimately to the Bay,” Governor Wolf said. “We must continue to develop and deploy effective targeting in high-priority areas, support community-based and locally-led approaches to conservation, collaboratively seek new funding opportunities, and engage all stakeholders – federal, state, local, public, private, non-profit – in our approach to local water quality.”
Governor Wolf today attended the Chesapeake Bay Executive Council in Virginia along with Gov. Terry McAuliffe, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary Robert Bonnie and others. He discussed Pennsylvania’s Chesapeake Bay Restoration Strategy, which since being announced earlier this year, has accelerated the commonwealth’s progress in meeting goals mandated by the federal government.
Pennsylvania Secretaries Cindy Dunn of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Russell Redding of the Department of Agriculture and Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell of the Department of Environmental Protection were also in attendance.
At the meeting, Governor Wolf also joined with federal colleagues in announcing a new partnership between Pennsylvania, EPA, and USDA that will increase both federal and state financial resources to help meet Pennsylvania’s 2025 nutrient and sediment reduction commitments. Pennsylvania will provide $12 million in additional funding to improve local water quality while the federal government has committed more than $16 million.
The joint strategy will accelerate nutrient and sediment reductions by implementing agricultural conservation practices that reduce nutrients on farms in priority areas, providing more technical assistance to help farmers implement agricultural conservation practices that are proved to reduce nutrients, and leveraging innovative private sector partnerships, private capital, and markets to magnify the benefits of these investments.
The new partnership also aligns closely with Pennsylvania’s Restoration Strategy, a collaborative effort between the Departments of Environmental Protection, Agriculture, and Conservation and Natural Resources, along with other stakeholders who played key roles in the design, development and implementation of the strategy. The agencies and stakeholders continue to work together to coordinate plans, policies and resources. The strategy relies on a mix of technical and financial assistance, technology, expanded data gathering, improved program coordination and capacity and – when necessary – stronger enforcement and compliance measures.
“All across the state, we have countless farmers who are doing the right thing to protect local water quality, and we have others who want to do the same, but simply lack the resources — particularly in this economic climate where many commodity prices are historically low,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “As part of our restoration strategy, we have committed to finding new funding to help farmers meet the commonwealth’s water quality improvement obligations. Now, thanks to the Governor’s leadership and the support of our federal partners, we have $28 million in new resources dedicated to helping our farmers.”
“DCNR has committed a new pool of grant funds and is devoting more staff time to planting forest buffers along streams in the Bay watershed of Pennsylvania,” said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “Using our own staff experts, from foresters to grant staff to natural resource staff on our state parks, we can expand current buffer planting in Pennsylvania and provide showcase projects for others to adopt.”
“DEP’s priority is to protect local water quality for Pennsylvanians, and thereby help protect the Bay for all,” said DEP Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “We’re working to accomplish this through a strategic, collaborative partnership with state and local agencies.”
There are six essential recommendations laid out in the Restoration Strategy:
- Put high-impact, low-cost Best Management Practices (BMPs) on the ground, and quantify undocumented BMPs in watersheds impaired by agriculture or stormwater.
- Improve reporting, record keeping and data systems to provide better and more accessible documentation.
- Address nutrient reduction by meeting EPA’s goal of inspecting 10 percent of farms in the watershed, ensuring development and use of manure management and agricultural erosion and sediment control plans, and enforcement for non-compliance.
- Identify legislative, programmatic or regulatory changes to provide the additional tools and resources necessary to meet federal pollution reduction goals by 2025.
- Obtain additional resources for water quality improvement.
- Establish a Chesapeake Bay Office to coordinate the development, implementation and funding of the commonwealth’s Chesapeake Bay efforts.
To learn more about Pennsylvania’s efforts to improve local water quality in the Bay watershed, please visit here.