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Phase 3 of Pennsylvania's Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP3)

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) invites comments from residents, communities, farmers, and local government leaders on a draft plan to improve water quality in streams and rivers by removing nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. 

The draft Pennsylvania Phase 3 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan (Phase 3 WIP) was developed with input from local government leaders, agricultural operators, community organizations, county residents, university researchers, federal agency partners, expert volunteers, and a steering committee led by DEP, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). The Phase 3 WIP is part of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency mandated reductions of nitrogen and phosphorous in local streams and rivers in Pennsylvania's 43 counties in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed by 2025. 

County Information:

County Planning Process

In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a historic clean-up plan to reduce pollution and restore clean water in the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed by 2025. This plan is the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL).

The "TMDL" specifies pollution reduction goals for the seven jurisdictions in the watershed: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, West Virginia, New York, and the District of Columbia.

By 2025, Pennsylvania must reduce nitrogen pollution levels by 34 million pounds per year; phosphorous levels by .7 million pounds per year; and sediment levels by 531 million pounds per year. For more detailed information on these goals, see the EPA Summary of a TMDL.

Like the other jurisdictions, Pennsylvania is required to develop a series of three "Watershed Implementation Plans" (WIPs). These plans specify how Pennsylvania will accomplish these pollution reduction goals—not only for 2025, but also for dates before then, to be sure that Pennsylvania working to make steady progress.

Pennsylvania developed its Phase 1 WIP in 2010, and its Phase 2 WIP in 2012.

Here's a helpful infographic of the steps of Phase 3 WIP development from EPA.

Development Of Pennsylvania's Phase 3 Plan

DEP, the Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture and Conservation and Natural Resources and many other local government, agriculture, environmental, community, academic and business partners are working together throughout 2018 to develop Phase 3 of Pennsylvania's Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP).

The Phase 3 plan will specify the steps Pennsylvania will take through 2025 to meet local water pollution reduction goals in the Bay watershed, based on EPA's midpoint assessment of our progress in 2017. For more detailed information, see EPA's expectations for what the Phase 3 WIP should include. (PDF)

Bottom-up, local level development through a county-based approach, with the state as a committed partner in the effort, is crucially important to the success of Pennsylvania's Phase 3 plan.

Events and Outreach

About 100 people from the public and private sectors are participating as WIP steering committee and workgroup members (click on tabs at right for details). Steering committee meetings and many work group meetings are open to the public and well attended by stakeholders who've helped shape and guide the plan development process. For more information, visit our Steering Committee Actions webpage. In addition, we're holding broader meetings and other events, with stakeholders providing important information and perspectives that will help make Pennsylvania's plan feasible and productive.

In short, local engagement is key to the Phase 3 process!

Pennsylvania's Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan: From a County Leader's Perspective – April 23, 2019

The draft Phase 3 WIP takes a ground-up approach to reducing nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in our waters, while enabling communities to reduce flood risk, improve drinking water quality, add outdoor recreation opportunities, and gain other benefits. Countywide Action Plans are one of the key components of the Phase 3 WIP and offer a way for local priorities to drive how state pollution reduction goals are met. About 190 people joined us for a live webinar to discuss what the Phase 3 WIP means for their county and what they, as county leaders, need to know to begin planning? The webinar provided an overview of the plan, a walk-through of the process and tools and other support for county planning, and an insider's look at our two Tier 1 county planning processes.

Webinar Agenda

  • 10:00-10:15 am: Overview of the Draft Phase 3 WIP 
    • Nicki Kasi, Program Manager, DEP Chesapeake Bay Program Office 
  • 10:15-10:40 am: Planning for Local Water Quality in the Phase 3 WIP 
    • Lisa Schaefer, Director of Government Relations, County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania; Co-Chair, Phase 3 WIP Local Area Goals Workgroup 
  • 10:40-11:05 am: How We Did It: The Lancaster County WIP 
    • Allyson Gibson, Coordinator, Lancaster Clean Water Partners  
  • 11:05-11:30 am: Q&A

County-Level Participation in Phase 3 WIP Planning: Webinar, July 10, 2018 

What does county-level Phase 3 WIP planning mean for your county? About 170 stakeholders joined us for a live webinar to discuss the overall county planning framework, the Community Clean Water Toolbox, county support teams, and more. 

Phase 3 WIP Community Clean Water Toolbox Stakeholder Meeting

On April 10, 2018, over 200 people participated in an all-day public information sharing session that included breakouts for participants to provide input and feedback to assist with finalizing a draft of Pennsylvania's Community Clean Water Toolbox.

For more detailed information, see the April 10th meeting summary.

photo of April 10 stormwater group meeting

DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell emphasized his hope for a change in the conversation, focusing on empowering our local communities with the state as their partner. PA Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding focused on how the strength of the partnership will define our success, highlighting the need to tell the story about why it matters and how it will shape Pennsylvania for years to come. PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Dunn spoke about how refreshing it was to see people, despite their different interests, working together for a common positive purpose.

Since the successful public kickoff event in June 2017, the WIP steering committee and the seven workgroups (see tabs on right for details) have worked to find the best strategies to attain pollution reduction goals.

They have worked together to develop a "toolbox" that presents a draft set of local data, resource, engagement, planning, and tracking tools available to counties for developing and implementing action plans to reduce nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment from streams and rivers. It quantifies the amount of pollutants reduced so far, current pollutant levels, and further reductions needed for each county.

The draft toolbox was shared at the meeting of leaders from municipal governments, county conservation districts, agriculture, environmental groups, water companies, and other entities, and participants provided feedback and input to assist with finalizing Pennsylvania's Clean Water Toolbox (PDF).

The toolbox is meant to be a starting point for each group of county stakeholders to use to improve water quality. While the draft was built for Lancaster County, one of four intended pilot counties (to also include York, Adams and Franklin), each county will receive a similar toolbox with data tailored to their story, as Pennsylvania rolls out the Phase 3 WIP effort. The four-county pilot will roll out in summer 2018.

Lisa Schaefer, Director of Government Relations for the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania and Co-chair of the Phase 3 WIP Local Area Goals Workgroup, provided an overview of the Chesapeake Bay Program's task force to recommend criteria for local area goals to the U.S. EPA for their Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) expectations document (PDF), noting that ultimately there was a lot of flexibility for states to determine what "local" means and how goals might be structured.

Pennsylvania's Local Area Goals Workgroup has been studying options for the state and, in November 2017, recommended to the WIP steering committee that countywide goals are the most feasible in terms of size, number, existing data levels and ability to organize stakeholders and resources; noting that this does not create any new responsibilities or regulatory requirements for county governments. The steering committee approved this recommendation, and the Local Area Goals Workgroup has since been developing a Community Clean Water Toolbox that can be customized to help local areas meet their individual goals in partnership with the state.

Matt Johnston and Emily Trentacoste from U.S. EPA's Chesapeake Bay Program walked attendees through the extensive "local story" data portion of the toolbox. The toolbox will provide every county with a common baseline of data and information to help tell their local water quality stories, and to identify opportunities for their planning efforts. Guidance on what each piece of information is, what it means, and how it can be used was presented and is also included in the toolbox.

The meeting ended successfully, with extensive suggestions and ideas on how to better engage with the 43 counties in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. This effort shows the new level of collaboration and energy that Pennsylvania is bringing to this phase of the WIP planning process.

Phase 3 WIP Public Kickoff and Listening Session

On June 5, 2017, over 240 people participated in our public kickoff and listening event for Phase 3 planning.

Knowledgeable and passionate about the challenges of cleaning up our local streams, rivers, and lakes, they provided 32 topics for discussion over a 5-hour period. (PDF)

Another 16 people provided their input online (PDF), and almost 40 people shared their thoughts on Facebook. A summary of public input (PDF) has been compiled for those interested in reading the feedback DEP received through these efforts. This invaluable expertise and first-hand experience will inform the work of the Phase 3 plan steering committee and work groups.

If you serve in local government in any of the counties in Pennsylvania's part of the Bay watershed, here are some tips from the EPA on how to help the Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Effort. (PDF)

For more information about Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts across state borders, visit the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program page.


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