Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, Department of
Environmental Protection Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell, and Department of
Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams-Dunn
Pause for a moment and consider your
nearest stream. Do you know where it goes? Chances are, if you live in one of
the 41 counties covering central Pennsylvania, that water finds its way to the Susquehanna
River and the Chesapeake Bay. This week, June 5-11, marks the first-ever
Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week. It’s a time to celebrate the Bay watershed’s
diverse waterways and landscapes, rich history, immense economic impact, and
the aesthetic and recreational offerings it and all of its local waters provide
to the 18 million people who live in its watershed.
The actions we take individually and
collectively here in Pennsylvania have a profound influence on water quality in
our backyards and in the Bay. There are a number of factors that impact water
quality, from agricultural and urban stormwater runoff, to development, and the
use of lawn fertilizers, among others. Because there are so many factors
influencing water quality, we need everyone to help address the impact of these
activities and to meet the challenge of cleaning up our streams.
Pennsylvania has renewed its commitment
to improving our streams and improving local water quality and the health of the
Bay. To coordinate this approach and improve our local waterways, the Wolf administration
has established a Chesapeake Bay Office within the Department of Environmental
Protection (DEP). With the Department of Agriculture and the State Conservation
Commission, we have begun connecting with farmers to better understand the work
they have already done to reduce runoff and improve local water quality, and to
identify what we need to do to implement low-cost, high-value best management
practices to continue this good work. The Department of Conservation and
Natural Resources is leading an effort to work with numerous agencies, partners
and landowners to expand forest buffers along waterways in the commonwealth as
one of those best practices.
We are working with municipalities to
better manage urban stormwater. Many of our Municipal Separate Storm Sewer
Systems are getting ready to implement new permit requirements and will, for
the first time, be obligated to achieve specific stormwater pollutant
reductions in 2018. To help these communities understand these obligations, DEP
is planning a series of workshops across the commonwealth this summer.
We need all the help we can get to
celebrate the successes and focus on the challenges. There are some simple
things you can do to support our streams and reduce the impact we all have on
the Bay. For example, be judicious when applying fertilizer and pesticides on
your lawns, gardens and farm fields. Install a rain garden to manage water from
your gutters instead of sending it into the street. Dispose of waste properly.
Do not flush medications down the toilet. Compost your yard waste, or
participate in a local clean-up.
Finally, make sure you take advantage of
the vast opportunities that exist within Pennsylvania’s rivers and streams. Go
fishing. Rent a kayak. Hike along a rail trail. Visit a state park. We promise
you that as you connect with these resources, you’ll come to the same
conclusion we have: it is worth the effort to improve Pennsylvania’s streams
and rivers, and join the effort to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.
Contact: Neil Shader,