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PA Watershed Implementation Plan and Countywide Action Plans Background

Phase 3 WIP Background

In 2019, Pennsylvania and neighboring states began the third phase of their work to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, our shared downstream resource. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assigned pollution reduction goals to Pennsylvania, and we have until 2025 to reach them. Our neighbors in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New York, West Virginia, and Virginia also have goals to meet.

This document, formally known as the "Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan," (Phase 3 WIP for short) spells out how the state government will work in partnership with other governments and the private sector to meet our goals by 2025.

This document is a team effort. In addition to state government officials, hundreds of individuals representing local government, universities, businesses, agriculture, and environmental organizations contributed their time and expertise. As DEP prepared this draft, we were guided by the principle that clean water is "Great for PA, Good for the Bay." We see the Phase 3 WIP planning as an opportunity for us to serve our residents and businesses — cleaning up our water, lowering flood risks, and improving the quality of life in our community.

There are 43 counties in Pennsylvania streams and rivers that run to the Susquehanna, the Potomac, and eventually the Chesapeake Bay. Most of the work called for in this document will be done there. Early in the process, the Commonwealth decided to help leaders in these counties determine the best way for them to clean up their fair share of the pollution. Four counties went first — Lancaster, York, Adams, and Franklin. The other 39 counties are following, benefitting from the lessons learned in the pilot counties.

Pennsylvania's efforts to reduce nutrients running into the Chesapeake Bay began in 1985. In 2009, the EPA set expectations for PA and neighboring states (Maryland, New York, West Virginia, Delaware, Virginia, and Washington D.C.) to meet by 2025. Each state's plan for meeting their Phosphorus (P) and Nitrogen (N) reduction goals is outlined in Watershed Implementation Plans' (WIP).

In 2009 Pennsylvania submitted its Phase 1 WIP to EPA. The goal of the Phase 1 WIP was to identify pollutant sources and develop source specific solutions to achieve reductions. In 2011, Pennsylvania submitted its Phase 2 WIP to EPA. The development of the Phase 2 WIP relied heavily on public input and the inclusion of adaptive management principles in the plan. Both the Phase 1 WIP and Phase 2 WIP led to significant reductions in Pennsylvania's nutrient load to the Bay, but more work is needed.

There is a lot of progress to be proud of! Many streams that once ran orange with abandoned mine pollution are now places where residents gather to swim, fish, boat, and play. Pennsylvania has cut the amount of phosphorus pollution going downstream by more than one third, and the amount of nitrogen pollution by about one sixth.

Bar charts showing pollutants that enter the bay

However, there is more to do. Of the nearly 49,000 assessed miles of streams in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, 11,446 still need to be cleaned up. 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.

The WIP Funding Workgroup estimates that the current public investment in waterways cleanup in the areas upstream of the Chesapeake are in the neighborhood of $197 million per year. The total investment needed to achieve the 2025 goals is estimated to be $521 million per year — an annual gap of $324 million.

There may be consequences if we fall short. First and foremost, failing to restore Pennsylvania's impaired waters will mean that our drinking water resources, outdoor recreation, wildlife, and public health and safety are simply not good enough. Local communities will continue to suffer from pollution-related problems such as stormwater and flood damage, contamination in drinking water sources, fouled waterways, and lost opportunities for families to enjoy the outdoors together.

If EPA determines that Pennsylvania can't meet its goals on its own, it may step up federal enforcement and compliance efforts. For example, it could:

  • Begin setting new nitrogen and phosphorus numeric water quality standards on streams and rivers in the state
  • Require more animal feeding operations, industrial and municipal stormwater sources, and urban areas to get Clean Water Act permits
  • Establish stricter nutrient or sediment reductions for those that already have permits
  • Redirect its grant funding away from the state's priorities to its own priorities

Pennsylvania's state neighbors and environmental organizations could attempt to force these actions in court if they believe that the Commonwealth is failing to do its fair share.

The Phase 3 WIP spells out how Pennsylvania will avoid these consequences and achieve its goals, because "Clean water is great for PA, and good for the Bay."

How We Drafted This Plan

Pennsylvania's Departments of Environmental Protection, Agriculture, and Conservation and Natural Resources have been working together since 2017 to develop Phase 3 of Pennsylvania's Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP).

Preparing the draft was a team effort. Dozens of partners from local government, businesses, and nonprofits worked together to study the science, meet with stakeholders to learn more, come up with fair solutions, and contribute to this draft for your review. Hundreds of individuals representing local government, universities, businesses, agriculture, and environmental organizations contributed their time and expertise. As DEP prepared this draft, we were guided by the principle that clean water is "Great for PA, Good for the Bay." We see the Phase 3 WIP planning and implementation as an opportunity for us to serve our residents and businesses — cleaning up our water, lowering flood risks, and improving the quality of life in our community.

The Phase 3 plan specifies the steps Pennsylvania will take through 2025 to meet local water pollution reduction goals in the Bay watershed. In the Phase 3 WIP, the Commonwealth will use a "Bottom Up" approach to meet its Phase 3 WIP goals — working with each county to develop Countywide Action Plans (CAPs) for clean water that are realistic and doable by local communities. The WIP Steering Committee determined that county-level planning would be the most feasible in terms of size, number, existing data, and ability to organize resources. Pennsylvania's nitrogen and phosphorus reduction targets are broken down into local planning goals for each of these counties.

It is important to note that the county clean water goals do NOT establish any new requirement or regulatory obligation on counties. These 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.

Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Planning Steering Committee and Workgroups

Steering Committee

Here are public records about how Pennsylvania's Watershed Implementation Plan came together:

  • Chair: Patrick McDonnell, Secretary, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
  • Russell Redding, Secretary, Department of Agriculture
  • Cindy Dunn, Secretary, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
  • Representative Garth Everett, Chair, Chesapeake Bay Commission
  • Karl Brown, Executive Secretary, State Conservation Commission
  • Drew Dehoff, Executive Director, Susquehanna River Basin Commission
  • Carlton Haywood, Executive Director, Interstate Commission of the Potomac River Basin
  • Brion Johnson, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority
  • Nicki Kasi and Kristen Wolf, DEP Chesapeake Bay Office (Staff to the Committee)
  • Co-Chairs of Workgroups

Agriculture Workgroup


  • John Bell, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau
  • Doug Goodlander, Pennsylvania Department of Protection
  • Greg Hostetter, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
  • Matt Royer, Penn State University and Pennsylvania in the Balance Steering Committee


  • Karl Brown, State Conservation Commission
  • Bill Chain, Chesapeake Bay Foundation
  • Andrew Flinchbaugh, York County, Crops, Produce/Nursery and Swine
  • David Graybill, Juniata County, Small Dairy Operation, Poultry
  • James Harbach, Clinton County, Large Dairy Operation
  • Jeff Hill, Lancaster County Conservation District
  • James Junkin, Franklin County, Turkeys and Swine, Crops
  • Jennifer Reed-Harry, Penn Ag Industries
  • Jennifer Schuler, Bell and Evans
  • Chris Sigmund, TeamAg
  • James Van Blarcom, Bradford County, Dairy and Swine

Coordinator: Jill Whitcomb, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Communications and Engagement Workgroup


  • Katie Hetherington-Cunfer, Director, DEP Office of External Affairs
  • Marcus Kohl, Regional Director, Northcentral Regional Office
  • Jayne Sebright, Executive Director, Center for Dairy Excellence


  • Kevin Sunday, Director of Government Affairs, Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry
  • Penny McCoy, ED Rural Water Association
  • Elizabeth Hinkel, President, Pennsylvania Corn Growers Assoc
  • Carly Dean, Project Manager, Chesapeake Conservancy
  • Mary Gattis, Local Government Advisory Committee Coordinator, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay
  • Jenna Mitchell, Pennsylvania State Director, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay
  • Dan Zimmerman, Warwick Township Manager
  • Kelly Donaldson, Communications Lead, PA Sea Grant
  • William Zeiders, Director of Digital Media and Marketing, PA Farm Bureau

Coordinators: Kristen Wolf, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Forestry Workgroup


  • Katie Ombalski, Woods and Waters Consulting
  • Matt Keefer, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources


  • Molly Cheatum, Chesapeake Bay Foundation
  • Ryan Davis, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay
  • William Elmendorf, Penn State University Extension
  • Matthew Ehrhart or Lamonte Garber, Stroud Water Research Center
  • Andrew Louza, Pennsylvania Land Trust Association
  • Roger Rohrer, R Farm, Strasburg, PA
  • Alan Sam, State College Borough
  • Lori Yeich, Department of Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Jacqui Bonomo, PennFutures

Coordinator: Teddi Stark, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Funding Workgroup


  • Representative Garth Everett
  • Brion Johnson, Pennvest
  • Marel King, Chesapeake Bay Commission


  • Jeff Clukey, House Appropriations Committee
  • John Dawes, Bay Funders Network Representative
  • Brian Eckert, Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development
  • John Guyer, Senate Appropriations Committee
  • Peter Hughes, Red Barn
  • Billy Joraskie, Senate Appropriations Committee
  • Charlotte Katzenmoyer, Lancaster City Department of Public Works
  • Ritchie LaFaver, House Appropriations Committee
  • Bob Lamb, PennVest Financial Advisor
  • Megan Lehman, DEP Williamsport Office
  • Jenn Cotting, Environmental Finance Center
  • Sarah Nicholas, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
  • Natalie Sabadish, Governor’s Budget Office
  • Joe Sweeney, Water Science Institute
  • Naomi Soon Young, Center for Regional Analysis

Coordinator: Jill Whitcomb, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Local Area Goals, Priority Areas, and Practices Workgroup


  • Lisa Schaeffer, County Commissioners Association
  • Davitt Woodwell, Pennsylvania Environmental Council


  • Harry Campbell, Chesapeake Bay Foundation
  • Carol Collier, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
  • Nate Dewing, Bradford County Conservation District
  • Matt Ehrhart, Stroud Water Research Center
  • Bill Fink, Country View Family Farms
  • Adrienne Gemberling, Chesapeake Conservancy, Susquehanna University Natural Sciences Center
  • Kara Kalupson, MS4 Coordinator, Rettew
  • Pam Shellenberger, York County Planning Commission
  • John Thomas, Hampden Township Board of Commissioners
  • Chris Thompson, Lancaster County Conservation District

Coordinator: Kristen Wolf, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Stormwater Workgroup


  • Felicia Dell, York County Planning Commission
  • Sean Furjanic, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection


  • Paul Bruder, Attorney, Rhoads and Sinon
  • Mike Jeffers, Kinsley Properties, Developer and Consultant
  • Teddie Kreitz, Municipal Consultant, Keller Engineers
  • Jeremy Miller, MS4 Governmental Representative-Large, Hampden Township
  • Seth Noll, MS4 Governmental Representative-Small, Yoe Borough
  • Liz Ottinger, EPA Region 3
  • Renee Reber, Chesapeake Bay Foundation
  • Daryl St Clair, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
  • Brian Seipp, Center for Watershed Protection

Coordinator: Lee Murphy, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Wastewater Workgroup


  • John Brosious, Pennsylvania Municipal Authorities Association
  • Jay Patel, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection


  • Bernard R. Biga, Director of Operations, Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority
  • Brian Book, Director of Energy and Environmental Engineering, Rettew
  • John Brossman, Manager/Engineer, Lower Allen Township Authority
  • Ed Ellinger, Director of Water & Wastewater Service Group, Herbert, Rowland & Grubic, Inc.
  • Shannon Gority, Chief Executive Officer, Capital Region Water
  • Steve Hann, Principal, Hamburg, Rubin, Mullin, Maxwell & Lupin 
  • Mike Kyle, Executive Director, Lancaster Area Sewer Authority
  • Cory Miller, Executive Director, University Area Joint Authority
  • Wayne Schutz, Executive Director, Derry Township Municipal Authority
  • Wendy Walter, Director of Compliance, Safety, and Security, Williamsport Sanitary Authority
  • R. Timothy Weston, Partner, K&L Gates

Coordinator: Brian Schlauderaff, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Phase 3 WIP Steering Committee: Meeting Minutes and Handouts


Expand AllClick here for a more accessible version

Phase 3 WIP Workgroup Products

Past Phase 3 Events and Outreach

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

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

Phase 3 WIP Community Clean Water Toolbox Stakeholder Meeting

Pennsylvania’s Final Phase 1 Chesapeake WIP

Pennsylvania’s Final Phase 2 Chesapeake WIP

Pennsylvania’s Chesapeake Bay Tributary Strategy – Executive Summary (PDF)

TMDL and Milestones

Phase 2 and Phase 1 Watershed Implementation Plan and Pennsylvania’s Tributary Strategy

Draft County Planning Targets for the Phase 2 Chesapeake WIP

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) submitted Pennsylvania’s Final Phase 2 Chesapeake Watershed Implementation Plan (final Phase 2 WIP) to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on March 30, 2012. The final Phase 2 WIP was the subject of a public comment period extending from December 17, 2011 to January 30, 2012. It describes the state’s plan to address EPA’s expectations that the states develop a Phase 2 WIP so that local partners (1) are aware of the WIP strategies; (2) understand their contribution to meeting the TMDL allocations; and (3) have been provided with the opportunity to suggest any refinements to the WIP strategies. The final Phase 2 WIP was developed to meet EPA’s August 1, 2011 revised nutrient and sediment planning targets for the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. The planning targets are the result of EPA’s development of a revised watershed model. In response to public comment, DEP will develop revised draft county planning targets based on reported year 2010 BMP implementation levels. These will be developed following EPA acceptance of DEP’s watershed model input deck for the year 2025 and posted to this website. The draft county planning targets estimate the nutrient and sediment reductions that will help Pennsylvania meet its Chesapeake watershed planning targets. Should a county want to improve upon the watershed model generated draft county planning targets, DEP will support the county in the use of the Chesapeake Assessment and Scenario Tool (CAST). CAST is a new web-based tool designed by EPA to help states and counties assess the most effective ways to reduce pollution in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

DEP also provided to EPA, Pennsylvania’s Programmatic Two-Year Milestones for the year 2012 through 2013. The milestones identify on-going activities to implement Pennsylvania’s Phase 1 and 2 WIPs.

As part of the Phase 2 WIP process, DEP also updated its wastewater permitting strategy and documented the current status in meeting point source objectives of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. A supplement to the Phase 2 WIP was submitted to EPA on April 2, 2012. DEP considers this to be a dynamic document that will be modified based on the collection of new data, updates in permitting activities, and adaptations to the permitting approach. The link below provides the latest update to this document.

On Jan. 11, 2011 DEP provided the revised final WIP to EPA. The major revisions made between the Nov. 29, 2010 WIP, the Dec. 23, 2010 WIP and the Jan 11, 2010 were the inclusion of the implementation rates for the best management practices that were included in the final input deck run (Section 14) and minor revisions were also made to Sections 5 and 8 of the document to reflect that final input deck run and Table B2. The final Table B2 was also sent to EPA on Jan. 11, 2011.

On Dec. 23, 2010 DEP provided a revised WIP to EPA. The major revision made between the Nov. 29, 2010 WIP and the Dec. 23, 2010 WIP was the inclusion of the implementation rates for the best management practices that were included in the final input deck run (Section 14). Minor revisions were also made to Sections 5 and 8 of the document.

On Nov. 29, 2010 the DEP sent to the EPA Pennsylvania’s Phase 1 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP). The WIP outlines the state’s plan to address nutrient and sediment loadings that drain to the Chesapeake Bay, and was prepared following EPA’s Nov. 4, 2009 guidance that outlined their expectations for WIPs and was revised based on public comments, workgroup input and comments received from EPA. The draft WIP was submitted to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Sept. 1, 2010 and comments were collected Sept. 24, 2010 - Nov. 8, 2010. Pennsylvania’s WIP was prepared to address EPA’s expectations for the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), scheduled for publication Dec. 31, 2010.

EPA has also posted each submitted WIP to their TMDL website.

A meeting was held on Wednesday March 31, 2010 in which the Department of Environmental Protection (Department) began initial discussions concerning the development of Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is developing a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for the Chesapeake Bay. As part of this process, EPA is requiring Chesapeake Bay states to develop WIPs. Meeting documents from this meeting include the following:

DEP has prepared new guidelines for sewage facilities planning as well as permitting for wastewater treatment facilities in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Documents relating to Pennsylvania's Chesapeake Bay Tributary Strategy, Point Source Implementation Plan, include the following:

Following a year of extensive stakeholder meetings and public input, the Department of Environmental Protection will publish the final version of its Trading of Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Credits - Policy and Guidelines along with Appendix A which provides nutrient trading criteria specific to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and three attachments to Appendix A that include the Point Source Allocation Strategy, Overview of Wastewater Planning Program Procedures, and the Overview of the Agriculture Sector’s Participation in Nutrient Trading. These documents will be noticed as final in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on Dec. 30, 2006.

A comment response document for comments submitted October - December 2005 and those submitted November - December 2006 will be addressed by the department in a separate Comment and Response document that will be posted below and on the department’s Nutrient Trading website shortly.

Documents being posted as final include the following:

Powerpoint Presentation: "How the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Partners Reached Agreement on Nutrient and Sediment Load Reductions and Caps" (PDF), Richard Batiuk, U.S. EPA Chesapeake Bay Program Office

Pennsylvania Unveils Draft Chesapeake Bay Tributary Strategy (PDF):

This press release announces the unveiling of Pennsylvania's Draft Chesapeake Bay Tributary Strategy Executive Summary (PDF). Deputy Secretary Cathy Curran Myers unveiled the Draft Strategy at the Aug. 12, 2004 meeting of the Citizen's Advisory Committee to the Chesapeake Executive Council. The draft strategy outlines the plan to reduce nutrient and sediment loadings in the Susquehanna and Potomac watersheds. It focuses on the best management practices and the point source reductions that will be necessary to meet Pennsylvania's goals established by the Chesapeake 2000 Agreement. DEP Regional Offices will conduct public outreach through the summer and fall to receive comment on the strategy and recommendations for new program initiatives to put it into action. A final strategy will be published in December.

Additional background information is provided in the following DEP Fact Sheets:

Countywide Action Plan Development 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.