HARRISBURG, Pa., July 23, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In Washington, DC, today, PA Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Quigley and Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Reading restated Pennsylvania's commitment to improving river and stream health throughout the commonwealth, and ultimately, the health of the Chesapeake Bay.
Secretaries Quigley and Redding represented Governor Tom Wolf at today's meeting of the Chesapeake Bay Executive Council. With Pennsylvania contributing half of the water flowing into the bay, Secretaries Quigley and Redding said states throughout the watershed are looking to the commonwealth for leadership, and the state is responding.
"A Chesapeake Bay reboot is needed in Pennsylvania, and we plan to focus resources and technical assistance, reinvigorate partnerships, and create a culture of compliance in order to protect Pennsylvania's waters and the waters of the bay," said Quigley during a press conference immediately following today's meeting with leaders of the bay states.
"We know that there is work to be done, and we're committed to seeing that work accomplished," said Redding. "It's time to restart the conversation about how we meet our clean water obligations. The health of our watersheds is tied to the agriculture industry in Pennsylvania, and the health of our agriculture industry is tied to the quality of our waterways. We cannot have healthy farms without healthy waterways and vice versa."
Quigley and Redding said that since the Wolf administration took office in January, the state has been actively engaged with the federal government, other states, and stakeholders throughout Pennsylvania's portion of the watershed on how the commonwealth plans to meet its pollution reduction obligations.
Quigley noted that in the near future, Pennsylvania plans to expand on its bay restoration program by focusing on the following strategies:
- Modeling at a regional watershed level
- Developing stronger partnerships
- Increasing compliance through enforcement
- Modernizing record keeping and data collection
During the executive council meeting, Secretary Quigley led a discussion about the benefits of riparian forest buffers in improving water quality. He recognized the role buffers play in the Chesapeake Bay, but also emphasized that riparian forest buffers make a big difference in the health of Pennsylvania's local rivers and streams. Quigley urged fellow bay states and partners to sign a resolution calling for an increase in riparian forest buffers to meet Chesapeake Bay goals.
Secretary Redding noted that Pennsylvania's farmers stand ready to do their part, with many farmers in the bay watershed already acting to do the right thing for Pennsylvania's water quality. What is important, he added, is ensuring that Pennsylvania gets credit for all of the work done to date and in the future in the bay improvement model. The state's agriculture industry is expected to contribute 75 percent of the nutrient and sediment reductions necessary for Pennsylvania to meet its cleanup goals.
The state is facing a 2017 mid-term assessment, by which time it is expected to have achieved 60 percent of its targeted reductions in nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment pollution. The deadline for states to meet their Watershed Implementation Plans and Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load commitments is 2025.
Already, Pennsylvania has made considerable progress, although more work remains. Since 1985, when Pennsylvania joined the Chesapeake Bay Commission, the state has reduced phosphorous, sediment and nitrogen pollution to the bay by 25 percent (1.4 million pounds), 15 percent (433.8 million pounds) and 6 percent (11.57 million pounds), respectively – all despite an increase in the number of farms and in the number of acres within the watershed in production agriculture. These reductions have been evidenced by Susquehanna River Basin Commission data from monitoring stations throughout the river's watershed.
For more information, or to view the milestones visit www.dep.state.pa.us, keywords "Chesapeake Bay Program"
Amanda Witman, DEP, 717-979-0218 (cell)
Brandi Hunter-Davenport, PDA, 717-787-5085 (office)
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection; Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture