PA'S RESTORATION STRATEGY
Pennsylvania's Chesapeake Bay restoration strategy presents an important issue to the future of agriculture in Pennsylvania and throughout the watershed, and must be managed to achieve the goals of having both clean water and viable farms.
The agriculture industry is responsible for contributing three-quarters of the total nutrient reductions expected of states by 2025. That's a sizeable sum, and no small task, but we know there are countless farmers who are doing their part.
One of Pennsylvania's big challenges is that of antiquated data. To date, DEP has only been able to load data on cost-share BMPs into the EPA Bay model and not non-cost-share BMPs.
As a means to rectify the absence of non-cost-share BMPs in the Bay model, DEP and PDA are collaborating with Penn State and other stakeholders to complete a comprehensive, voluntary farm survey to locate, quantify and verify previously undocumented BMPs.
We want Pennsylvania farmers to obtain maximum credit, both publicly and in the Bay model, for the good work they are doing to restore local water quality.
DEP is also working to set up a state of the art mobile platform for data collection across the entire watershed that will provide a standardized method of delivery for all county conservation districts.
PA'S RESTORATION STRATEGY -- DEVELOPMENT OF PROCEDURES FOR CONDUCTING FARM INSPECTIONS
DEP has worked in close cooperation with representatives of the State Conservation Commission, the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts, and several individual conservation districts to develop a final Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and inspection report form for conservation district and DEP staff to follow when completing the inspections called for as part of the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Strategy.
As of this date, 28 counties are participating in the farm inspection program and will receive funding from DEP to support bay technician staff: Adams, Bedford, Berks, Blair, Cambria, Centre, Chester, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Cumberland, Fulton, Huntingdon, Indiana (covered in agreement with Cambria), Juniata, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lycoming, Mifflin, Montour, Potter, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Union and Wyoming counties. In addition to the nine counties that chose not to continue their funding for a Bay Technician, three other counties with a small number of farms within the Bay watershed will have farm inspections done by DEP personnel: Somerset, Wayne, and Cameron.
Links to the SOP, and inspection report are available below. These documents will be updated over time as conservation districts and DEP gain experience under the inspection program. Implementation will begin in fall of 2016.
On Jan. 21, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf unveiled a comprehensive strategy to "reboot" the state's efforts to improve water quality in the commonwealth and the bay. The strategy, developed by DEP in consultation with departments of Agriculture and Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), as well as the State Conservation Commission, relies on a mix of technical and financial assistance for farmers, technology, expanded data gathering, improved program coordination and capacity and – only when necessary – stronger enforcement and compliance measures.