Pennsylvania Needs Additional Funding for Bay TMDL Efforts

As previously reported on Conduit Street, Pennsylvania and the federal government have pledged to commit $28 million to help funding the commonwealth’s lagging Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) efforts. However, a Bay Journal article  (2016-11-06) reported that more funding is needed in order for the commonwealth to achieve its goals. Nutrient and sediment runoff – primarily from agriculture – comes down the Susquehanna River and through the Conowingo Dam, complicating Maryland’s Bay TMDL restoration efforts. From the article:

But much more [than the $28 million in funding] will be needed. For instance, [Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s] administration said it will put almost $2.5 million more into planting “riparian forest buffers,” streamside trees that soak up nutrients and prevent runoff. Yet the state is projected to need $170 million for that effort over the next decade to reach its goal of planting 95,000 acres of buffers by the 2025 cleanup deadline. …

State Sen. Gene Yaw, a Republican from Lycoming County and chairman of the Senate Environmental Committee, noted that almost 70 percent of the remaining nitrogen reductions for the entire six-state Bay watershed need to come from Pennsylvania. And 80 percent of those reductions have to come from the farming sector, he said. The state is also lagging badly on dealing with stormwater pollution, according to EPA modeling.

“We’ve accomplished a lot, but we have a lot more to do,” said Patrick McDonnell, acting DEP secretary. Under the Bay diet, Pennsylvania needs to reduce its nitrogen pollution by 17 million pounds by next year. But the state is so far behind that that’s not going to happen, he said, and it needs to reduce a total of 34 million pounds by 2025. …

“I think we need to start looking at sustainable funding,” said Sen. Judith L. Schwank, a Democrat from Berks County….

The article described several potential funding sources that Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering:

A bipartisan group of lawmakers recently introduced new “Growing Greener” legislation aimed at investing $315 million a year in measures to protect Pennsylvania’s water, land and natural resources. But the measure doesn’t specify where those funds would come from.

Several lawmakers of both parties support legislation that would raise funds to clean up state waterways by establishing a water withdrawal fee on businesses. As introduced, the measure could raise an estimated $245 million a year, with more than $90 million likely to go to projects in the Bay watershed.

The article also noted concerns from Pennsylvania farmers about whether they can afford conservation efforts, even with financial assistance from the commonwealth and federal government.

Useful Links

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of Pennsylvania TMDL Issues

Join a post-election discussion of county environmental requirements including the Bay TMDL and Environmental Protection Agency stormwater mandates at the 2016 MACo Winter Conference.Share your county’s current challenges and hear what changes could be ahead in a roundtable facilitated by the University of Maryland Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology.

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference: