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Saturday, August 5, 2017

Lessons from Past, Tools for Future Focus of Meeting on Phase 3 of Pennsylvania’s Plan to Clean Up Local Waters in Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Harrisburg, PA – In its third public meeting, the steering committee coordinating Phase 3 of Pennsylvania’s plan to clean up local waters in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed discussed lessons learned from previous planning efforts.

“We’ve started off development of Phase 3 with genuinely fresh thinking and energy,” said Patrick McDonnell, Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which hosted the meeting on July 31. “Our process prioritizes bottom-up plan development by diverse partners throughout our Bay watershed counties. In June, over 240 Pennsylvanians brought their expertise and ideas to our public listening event. Taking a good look at the strengths and weaknesses of Phase 1 and 2 plans is part of this new approach.”

Many local municipalities, farmers, and other groups know the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandates Pennsylvania to meet numeric goals in reducing nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment in local waters, said three speakers who worked on the earlier plans: York County Planning Commission Director Felicia Dell, Pennsylvania Municipal Authorities Association Deputy Executive Director John Brosious, and PennAg Industries Association Assistant Vice President Jennifer Reed-Harry.

Their recommendations for Phase 3 included breaking these large target numbers down to a more local level, identifying the value (e.g., economic benefits and herd and soil health benefits) of cleaning up local waters, and ensuring that current local water cleanup efforts are being accurately tracked and the data shared with EPA.

The meeting also included a presentation by EPA Chesapeake Bay Program data analyst Matt Johnson on data analysis software available to the Pennsylvania team that will assist in decision-making on how to identify local area goals. Collecting and analyzing data in order to create local water cleanup plans with the greatest possible impact is a priority of Phase 3 plan development.

The steering committee will next meet on August 24 in room 309 at the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

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