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.

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