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Countywide Action Plans

Forty-three of Pennsylvania’s counties contain waterways that drain to either the Susquehanna or the Potomac rivers. This effort is part of the Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan (Phase 3 WIP). State agencies, led by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), are working with interested parties in the counties whose local waters run to the Chesapeake Bay to create Countywide Action Plans. These plans will outline how each county’s share of the state’s 2025 pollution reduction goals will be met. EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program has modeled Chesapeake Bay pollution sources including pollution entering Pennsylvania’s waterways and where it originates. Each Pennsylvania county has its own goal to reduce its share of pollution. Some counties have more work to do than others. The Phase 3 WIP Steering Committee grouped the 43 counties into tiers. Tier 1 counties have the most pollution to reduce, and Tier 4 counties have the least. 

County Action Plan Map

Successful planning depends on a diverse group of local participants getting involved. This planning can help local communities solve local problems while meeting each county’s share of Pennsylvania’s overall goal. Following through will lead to vibrant local communities and economies.

The state believes that the path to success starts at the local level. County partners understand their communities, economy, waterways, and challenges better than anybody. If you get involved in this process at the local level, you will have a say in how the county’s pollution reduction goals are met. You can shape the mix of solutions that are chosen within your county—and make a difference for your community.

County Planning Process

The county-based planning process provides an opportunity for everyone involved to learn more about their local waters. These Countywide Action Plans will outline how to achieve local clean water goals in a way that fits with your local priorities.

Throughout the planning process, Countywide Planning and Implementation Teams are being established to discuss how, when, and who will be needed to develop the Countywide Action Plan (CAP) and move the approved CAP into the implementation and reporting phase. The tasks for each planning and implementation team will vary by county depending on local goals.

County Action Plan Flowchart

It is important to note that the county clean water goals do NOT establish any new requirement of regulatory obligations on counites. The goals are simply a way for Pennsylvania to engage with local partners on shared issues and focus resources on efforts that help Pennsylvania reach its Chesapeake Bay goals. This empowers communities to lead efforts to improve their own local water quality using the most beneficial methods for their stakeholders and residents Designated countywide groups (partnerships, local governments, county conservation districts, and other identified stakeholders) will utilize the following templates, to report priority initiatives and planned actions to achieve necessary reductions.

Phase 1 – Pilot and Tier 2 Counties

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Phase 2 – Tier 3 and 4 Counties

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Benefits of Success

  • Counties retain control of your agenda for local water resources
  • Counties identify the pollution and flood reduction solutions
  • Counties identify previously unknown grant and cost-share opportunities

Consequences of Failure

  • Missed opportunities to address local water pollution and flooding
  • More regulation and government oversight
  • Higher costs for compliance

County Resources


Used for inputting of monthly and annual progress of the CAP. This planning optimization tool tracks and reports annual progress and milestones to DEP.


Used for reporting conservation plans, BMPs, E&S plans, nutrient management plans, watershed plans, complaints, DEP ag inspection reports and data exports to DEP.