The following first appeared in the York Daily Record.
York County has again taken the initiative to address clean water issues. Based on support from residents, the county commissioners approved moving forward with a study of how to establish a stormwater authority.
York County would join about 1,500 communities in the United States that are taking more cost-effective steps to better fund and manage polluted runoff and nuisance flooding. This often occurs in developed areas such as malls, housing developments, roads, and parking lots. In doing so, the county will help itself and the rest of Pennsylvania get back on track toward meeting clean water commitments.
In 2010, the Bay states and the federal Environmental Protection Agency set pollution limits that would restore water quality in local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay, and each state developed its own plan to meet those limits.
The goal is to implement 60 percent of pollution reduction practices to restore local water quality in the commonwealth by 2017, and 100 percent implementation by 2025. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania will not meet its 2017 goal. Statewide, efforts to reduce nitrogen and sediment pollution from agriculture and urban polluted runoff are off track by millions of pounds.
About 350 miles of the nearly 2,000 miles of creeks, streams and the Susquehanna River that flow through York County are polluted. Agriculture is the source of pollution to 160 miles of waterways, and urban and suburban runoff is responsible for pollution in 130 miles of York County waters.
The commonwealth recently released its plan to "reboot" efforts to get Pennsylvania back on track, including addressing stormwater pollution.
Comprehensive stormwater management of the scale York County is considering offers three major advantages. First, it allows communities to "start at the source" of the pollution problem, not just where it is showing its greatest impacts. Second, by working collaboratively communities can leverage expertise, equipment, and other resources to get the best results at the least cost. Third, pollution reduction practices that preserve and restore nature's ability to capture, filter, and infiltrate rain and snowmelt into the ground are often more effective and cost less than traditional practices. They also clean the air, reduce heating and cooling costs, and beautify communities.
With a countywide stormwater authority that addresses regular flooding from uncontrolled runoff that inflicts human, economic, and property damage, York County is again at the forefront of clean water efforts.
York County was the first county in the commonwealth to adopt the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's "Clean Water Counts" resolution, calling on state officials to make clean water a top priority for the Keystone State.
York County residents are also participating in the CBF's "Clean Water Counts "� York" effort, raising their voices through phone calls and signing a petition, asking Gov. Tom Wolf and legislators to support the commonwealth's new plan to reduce water pollution.
In the spirit of intergovernmental cooperation, the York County Regional Chesapeake Bay Pollutant Reduction Plan involves 43 municipalities to better reduce pollution at lower cost.
Earlier this year, the Planning Commission finalized a countywide watershed plan that analyzes strategies and targets the pollution-reducing practices most appropriately suited for York County. The primary goal of the plan is to aid municipalities, citizens, and businesses in determining how to most efficiently reduce pollution from urban and suburban runoff.
By taking the lead in collaborative stormwater management, York County continues to demonstrate that clean water counts. It is a legacy worth leaving future generations of York countians.
--Harry Campbell, CBF Pennsylvania Executive Director