EPA Funding to Accelerate Ag Pollution Reductions in Pennsylvania
Projects Eyed in ‘Most Effective Basins’
PHILADELPHIA (August 12, 2020) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced it is seeking applications to administer nearly $3.4 million to improve water quality in Pennsylvania streams and rivers and the Chesapeake Bay by reducing excess nitrogen from agricultural operations.
At the same time, EPA is providing an additional $300,000 to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to assist with projects that will result from the nearly $3.4 million appropriation.
Pennsylvania received the largest share of a pot of $6 million for targeted restoration actions across the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The $6 million is part of an increase in the FY 2020 EPA Chesapeake Bay Program budget designated for “state-based implementation in the most effective basins.”
“This is part of EPA’s commitment to helping states in the watershed achieve their goals of restoring local waters and the Chesapeake Bay,” said EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio. “These funds will get pollutant reduction projects on the ground in Pennsylvania in the quickest and most efficient way possible.”
In a separate announcement on July 14, 2020, EPA reallocated $3.8 million to support priority actions in Pennsylvania to reduce agricultural-related pollution.
Today’s EPA Request for Applications (RFA) will fund one or two multi-year cooperative agreements to accelerate the implementation of best management practices in Pennsylvania’s most effective basins, and to track, verify and report progress.
The intent of the RFA is to assist Pennsylvania in achieving its 2025 water quality goals under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (Bay TMDL) and its Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP).
EPA analyses have shown that reducing nitrogen through improved agricultural practices in the bay watershed is far less costly – and more effective – than reducing phosphorus to improve water quality.
Each state in the Chesapeake Bay watershed submitted Phase III WIPs, in which they committed to reduce nitrogen loads from the agriculture sector from 2019 to 2025. The following funding allocations were calculated as a percentage of the total of each bay jurisdictions’ WIP commitments:
- Pennsylvania: $3,695,112
- Virginia: $1,110,191
- Maryland: $695,940
- Delaware: $364,540
- New York: $79,536
- West Virginia: $54,681
The District of Columbia, the remaining jurisdictional partner, does not have an agricultural commitment in its Phase III WIP.
Each of the 383 basins in the Chesapeake Bay watershed was evaluated as part of a relative effectiveness determination. A total of 26 of the top 30 most effective basins are located in Pennsylvania, including all of the top 15.
As an upstream jurisdiction in the nation’s largest estuary, Pennsylvania has a significant impact on the Chesapeake Bay and much of its watershed and has a pivotal role in the ongoing restoration effort. The Susquehanna River provides about 50 percent of the freshwater flows to the estuary, about half of the nitrogen, and more than a quarter of the phosphorus.
According to its Phase III WIP, Pennsylvania only meets 75% of its numeric planning target for nitrogen by 2025, resulting in a 10-million-pound nitrogen gap. Pennsylvania is planning to achieve more than 90 percent of its nitrogen reductions in the agriculture sector and has initiated county-wide pilot efforts in Lancaster, York, Adams, and Franklin counties to target the implementation of the most effective pollutant reduction practices in those locations with the largest opportunities for reducing pollutant loads.
Achieving the projected water quality goals in these counties, including initiating additional efforts to close the nitrogen gap, will require increased coordination and collaboration with the agriculture sector, as well as increased and accelerated levels of BMP implementation.
For more information and to see a copy of the RFA, visit: https://www.epa.gov/chesapeake-bay-tmdl/epa-r3-cbp-20-03