Friday, December 1, 2023

Schuylkill Conservation District Receives $277,657 Grant for Chesapeake Bay Watershed Restoration

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has allocated $19.3 million in 2024 Countywide Action Plan (CAP) Implementation Grants to various county teams within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. 

Among the recipients is the Schuylkill Conservation District, which has been awarded $277,657 to help its efforts in tackling nutrient and sediment pollution, thereby contributing to the overall health restoration of local streams, rivers, and lakes.

The CAP Implementation Grants have become a tool in supporting initiatives aimed at reducing pollution in Pennsylvania's share of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. DEP Interim Acting Secretary Jessica Shirley expressed confidence in the effectiveness of these grants, noting the positive impact they have had since 2021. Projects funded by these grants have ranged from streambank tree plantings to livestock crossing installations, showcasing the diverse strategies employed to address environmental concerns.

Nutrient pollution and sediment runoff pose significant threats to water bodies, impacting aquatic ecosystems and biodiversity. Activities such as wastewater treatment, agricultural practices, deforestation, and urban development contribute to these issues. The grants aim to combat the adverse effects of nutrient pollution, such as algal blooms that harm underwater grasses, and sediment pollution that smothers bottom-dwelling organisms crucial to the ecosystem.

Pennsylvania, along with other jurisdictions in the watershed, is mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to lower its nutrient and sediment pollution levels by 2025. The state is tasked with reducing nitrogen by 34.13 million pounds and phosphorus by 750,000 pounds. The 2024 CAP Implementation Grant round saw a total of 226 projects submitted, promising an estimated reduction of over 170,000 pounds/year of nitrogen, 122,000 pounds/year of phosphorus, and 36.3 million pounds/year of sediment.

The Schuylkill Conservation District's share of $277,657 will be instrumental in executing localized projects that align with the broader mission of the CAP grants. These initiatives are expected to make a tangible impact on the reduction of nutrient and sediment pollution, contributing to the overall success of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed restoration efforts.

The CAP Implementation Grants have been distributed to various county teams across the state, with amounts varying based on the proposed projects. Other notable recipients include Lancaster County Conservation District, Franklin County Conservation District, and York County Planning Commission, each receiving substantial grants for their respective initiatives. The projects are slated for completion within the next 12 to 18 months, showcasing a collective commitment to addressing environmental challenges and fostering sustainable practices.