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

Monday, June 30, 2014

Ways to Achieve and Account for Pollution Reductions - Existing Program Administration

Administration of existing programs, which includes regulatory compliance and subsequent enforcement, will help York County move closer toward meeting its pollutant reduction targets. The need for assistance with compliance from State and Federal partners is an important component of this solution. Three (3) aspects of program administration are considered in this Plan.

The first is compliance required under the NPDES Permit Program; conditions associated with permits must be met. The Nutrient Credit Trading Program is an option by which permit compliance may be possible. The PA DEP created a Nutrient Credit Trading Program, enabling an eligible permit holder to buy pollution reduction credits from another entity, who has either (a) generated credits by reducing pollutants more than is required by law; (b) has not discharged its allocation of pollution into the watershed; or (c) has installed an improvement that results in quantifiable pollution reductions. So, buyers and sellers should be aware of what credits are actually available for sale (must be credits ‘certified’ by PA DEP). Like any other regulatory program, the Pennsylvania Trading Program is revised periodically.

The regulatory acceptance of nutrient credit trading, coupled with the possible financial benefits, makes nutrient credit trading an approach to consider and analyze as a component of York County’s pollutant reduction strategy. It is important to remember that the financial benefits of this Program could be a savings realized for the purchaser of credits, as well as an income producer for the seller of credits. Furthermore, these financial benefits could result in more funds being available to implement additional BMPs.

A second aspect deals with Conservation Plans, Nutrient Management Plans, and Manure Management Programs. Although municipalities are not responsible for compliance under these Programs, benefits of complying with the associated regulations may well have positive impacts for municipalities. There are various reasons why countywide compliance with Conservation Plan requirements has not been achieved, but limited resources are most likely a primary cause. The YCCD works with farmers to develop and implement Conservation Plans that address not only the conservation plan requirements, but also nutrient and manure management regulations. The limited resources of the YCCD have resulted in a backlog of Conservation Plans in need of development, review and/or approval. A potential consideration worth analysis for this Plan could be obtaining municipal assistance in hiring independent technicians to work with YCCD to administer the Program and attain compliance. Should the analysis prove the benefits (pollution reductions) would keep stricter MS4 requirements away from municipalities, they could achieve some cost savings.

A third aspect is the administration of stormwater management (SWM) regulations under the Pennsylvania Stormwater Management Act (Act 167). This task falls to each County municipality who is required, by the Act, to adopt a SWM Ordinance consistent with the County’s approved and adopted countywide SWM Plan. This requirement, to date, has not been fulfilled by all County municipalities, although most, if not all, are working in that direction. Compliance with Act 167, and subsequent enforcement of the adopted SWM Ordinances, will help prevent urban stormwater runoff pollution from getting worse, thereby allowing the benefits of BMPs installed outside of Act 167 to have a greater impact toward achieving the target reductions.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Ways to Achieve and Account for Pollution Reductions

There are many ways to achieve and account for pollution reductions. In Developing an effective and viable strategy for York County to meet its pollution reduction targets, a variety of solutions were evaluated. Below is a description of potential solutions recommended for the County by the York County Coalition for Clean Waters. York County has identified four areas of activity, and they are:

  1. Capture unreported actions;
  2. Existing program administration;
  3. Best Management Practices; and
  4. BMPs not currently in Bay Model.

 The Chesapeake Bay Model can only give credit for BMPs entered into it, and only what is known can be entered into it. The amount of pollution reduction Pennsylvania has achieved since January 1, 2006, is determined by BMPs that have been entered into the Bay Model by US EPA. To date, Pennsylvania has primarily included only BMPs cost shared by Federal/State programs. Thus, unreported actions relate to BMPs that were (1) funded completely by private dollars, (2) cost shared through government programs not presently accounted for in the Bay Model, or (3) undertaken without pollution reduction being a goal, but in reality, achieved pollution reductions.

York County’s municipalities need to identify, report, and get credit for these unreported BMPs to help achieve their draft target reductions. These unreported BMPs, or “credits,” may be the least costly and most efficient means of reducing the distance the County must travel toward reaching its pollutant reduction targets. Examples of such projects include, but are not limited to:

Capture Unreported Actions  
  • Ag BMPs not associated with conservation plans and/or cost shared by Appendix C programs,   
  • Municipal BMPs not required by NPDES permits or cost shared by Appendix C programs, 
  • Projects cost shared with agencies not included in Appendix C, such as PEMA and PennDOT; project examples include Wrightsville Susquehanna riverbank restoration and PennDOT Mt. Rose Avenue stream bank stabilization, 
  •  Projects requiring PA DEP permits, BUT not cost shared by Appendix C programs, 
  •  Erosion and sedimentation projects not reported to PA DEP, and 
  •  BMPs completed by any stakeholder on private lands.