WAY is a coalition of stakeholders being innovative leaders encouraging watershed-based planning, restoration and protection in York County, Pennsylvania, and beyond.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

York County Watershed Implementation Plan – Background

York County is located on the west side of the Susquehanna River, which supplies roughly 50 percent of the water to the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay water quality has degraded to a poor condition and, despite extensive restoration efforts (since 1985), the poor water quality has continued. This necessitated the U.S> Environmental Protection Agency to establish a “pollution diet” for the Bay, or total maximum daily loads (TMDL) of nutrients, sediment and toxic pollutants.

Pennsylvania has developed a Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP), which sets forth a strategy for the Commonwealth to achieve the required pollutant reductions mandate by the Bay TMDL

The Chesapeake Bay TMDL is unique for Pennsylvania in the sense that the legal requirement for pollution reductions falls upon the state, while land use authority, which enables the practices and the construction of structures to reduce pollution, is delegated to local municipalities.

Pennsylvania has taken its total pollution reduction requirement and divided it among the counties in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and identified draft county reduction targets for nutrients, sediment and toxic pollutants.

The USEPA has made it clear in the TMDL, and Pennsylvania has acknowledged this in its WIP,
that there will be consequences should Pennsylvania not make significant progress towards
achieving its required reductions.

All the background information along with explanations of all existing requirements and
programs, referred to above, are included in the Chesapeake Bay TMDL and the Pennsylvania
WIP. The main objective of the York County Watershed Implementation Plan is to convey four
(4) key points:

1.      The Chesapeake Bay is polluted with nutrients and sediment;
2.      The Federal Government (USEPA) has told Pennsylvania that it needs to reduce pollution by a specified amount and timeframe;
3.      Pennsylvania has developed a Plan documenting how the state will meet its mandate, which includes voluntary actions by local entities, ensuring compliance with existing regulations, and increasing monitoring and reporting of pollution reduction efforts; and
4.      If the required pollutant reductions are not met as measured every two (2) years, the USEPA will take action to ensure the reductions happen. These actions may include increased permitting and withholding of federal funding under EPA’s authority.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

York County's Chesapeake Bay Pollutant Reduction Initiative

Efforts currently under way include compiling a list of potential stormwater management projects for consideration by the York County Coalition for Clean Waters and creating a financial formula for municipal cost sharing in a county-wide funding pool.

The Center for Watershed Protection’s Bryan Seipp is assisting the York County Planning Commission with compiling a list of potential projects from the participating MS4 communities (34). Projects are being proposed by the local MS4 communities based upon the recommended best management practices providing the greatest pollutant reduction for each dollar invested.

Once completed, then the Coalition for Clean Waters will convene to review the list, set priorities for implementation, and select one or more demonstration projects. MS4 communities will be able to include the list of projects in their Chesapeake Bay Pollutant Reduction Plan required by their state MS4 permit.

At this point, participating MS4 communities will be asked to opt-in or opt-out of the Coalition. Those Communities opting in to the Coalition will be asked to contribute financially based upon finance formula under development. The purpose of the financial commitment is collective cost sharing and county-wide pollutant reduction benefits and credits.

The Coalition believes working together for clean water is engaging, fair and will produce the reasonable assurances of progress towards Chesapeake Bay pollutant reductions needed in York County to help Pennsylvania meet its Watershed Implementation Plan goals by 2025.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Working Together for Clean Water

Awareness of the importance of clean water to streams and rivers, and their connection to the larger Chesapeake Bay ecosystem, is growing in York County, Pennsylvania.

Momentum is gaining interest and support not with just a few individuals, but collectively as a county.

Presented with an challenge—the Chesapeake Bay TMDL—York County’s Conservation District and Planning Commission took on the roles of educator, facilitator, and change agent.

The Planning Commission took the lead forming a County-wide TMDL Work Group to develop a countywide pollution reduction strategy to help Pennsylvania meet it’s Bay Agreement goals. Known as a Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP), the plan identifies the most cost effective nutrient and sediment pollution reduction practices to achieve clean water goals and restore streams.

The next step to getting the job done is where the rubber hits the road—implementation.

One very important pollution source that is continuing to increase, even with reductions from wastewater treatment and agricultural pollution sources, is polluted urban and suburban stormwater runoff.

For township managers, it can be difficult to maintain and update the infrastructure needed to transport polluted runoff—things like storm drains, pipes, ditches, and retention ponds.

York County has developed a collaborative plan to reduce pollution, restore streams, and save everyone money. The plan calls for the implementation of actions in four key areas:
·        --- Capture unreported projects from local, state and federal cost share programs;
·         --- Existing program administration (e.g., agricultural conservation planning, land use planning, stormwater management, etc.);
·         --- New nonstructural Best Management Practices applied on the ground to capture and treat urban, suburban and rural stormwater runoff and stream restoration; and
·         ---- BMPs not in current Bay Model (i.e., The York Water Company’s Sediment Filtration Plan).

A stakeholders group “Coalition for Clean Waters” has been formed—consisting of local business, government, nonprofit groups, and other individuals—to help educate the public about York County’s WIP and encourage implementation of the recommended Best Management Practices by landowners and local officials.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is lending a hand to York County and its 72 local municipalities through both private funding and through a generous grant from the William Penn Foundation, by providing technical assistance for locally lead water quality improvement efforts. The CBF will be hosting a series of workshops designed to assist local officials. The workshops will begin in January 2014.

For more information about local workshops or to see what else is happening in York County, visit and