On Monday, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) submitted the Commonwealth’s final Phase 3 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) to the EPA.
Today, Harry Campbell, Science Policy and Advocacy Director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) in Pennsylvania offered a statement on the latest pollution-reduction plan that is to guide the Commonwealth to meet its Clean Water Blueprint obligations.
In April, the EPA gave the Commonwealth 90 days to update a revised WIP that had been submitted late in 2021. EPA said the revised plan did not provide confidence the state will meet its 2025 targets and it lacked details about program upgrades and failed to close funding gaps. EPA provided specific recommendations on how DEP’s proposal could be improved.
EPA also announced in April that it was taking several backstop measures and outlined additional backstops that could be taken if the plan submitted on Monday remains insufficient.
Of the Commonwealth’s final Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan, Harry Campbell said:
“Historic investments by the Pennsylvania legislature and the Governor in the latest state budget are a critical down payment to reduce pollution in Commonwealth rivers and streams.
“Of particular significance is the creation of a statewide program called the Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program, to help Pennsylvania farmers design and implement conservation practices that keep nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution out of local rivers and streams.
“Significant and sustainable investments that close the funding gap found in the Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plans are essential to providing reasonable assurance that Pennsylvania will meet its clean water commitments. To achieve the Commonwealth’s commitments to clean water, that funding must be continued in future budgets.
“As in the previous revision and rejected by EPA, Pennsylvania’s new plan calls for EPA to count clean water practices that Chesapeake Bay Program scientists have not authorized to be counted toward the state’s progress, including those expected from state programs but that require further investigation.
“The Clean Water Act requires EPA to ensure the Bay states design and implement plans to meet their clean water commitments. As for Pennsylvania, EPA must continue to provide oversight and accountability to ensure that the Commonwealth reaches its Blueprint goals.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: A link to the final Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan is here.