HARRISBURG – The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee on Tuesday held a briefing on the ‘State of the Chesapeake Bay’ with staff from the Chesapeake Bay Commission and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) participating.
Half of the land area of Pennsylvania drains to the Chesapeake Bay from four major river basins, including the Susquehanna River Basin, and Pennsylvania comprises 35 percent of the entire Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
The Chesapeake Bay Commission, a tri-state legislative commission advising the general assemblies of Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania on matters of Bay-wide concern, is the only legislative branch member of the federal-state Chesapeake Bay Program that includes the six Bay states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government. Along with commitments to address fisheries, habitat, stewardship and other measures of Bay watershed health, the region is facing a deadline of 2025 to have all the practices and programs in place to achieve water quality in the Bay.
By 2025, Pennsylvania is challenged to meet reductions goals which include:
- Nitrogen: Reduce by 34 million pounds per year;
- Phosphorus: Reduce by 0.7 million pounds per year;
- Sediment (soil): Reduce by 531 million pounds per year.
“We are at a critical juncture in our Bay restoration efforts,” Chairman Yaw said. “However, we are making progress on the Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan to improve the health of Pennsylvania’s share of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.”
The Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan (Phase 3 WIP) is the state-coordinated initiative to reduce nitrogen, phosphorus and other pollutants in rivers and streams and improve water quality to benefit Pennsylvania’s local communities, economy, and quality of life, while meeting U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirements for the Bay. The 43 Pennsylvania counties within the Bay watershed are currently developing or beginning to implement county-specific plans to achieve the TMDL goals.
During the briefing, several pieces of legislation were highlighted including:
- Dedicated Water Fund using federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (seeking co-sponsors)
- Nutrient Procurement Bill (SB 475)
- Agricultural Cost-Share Bill (SB 465)
- Fertilizer Bill (SB 251)
“We all want to have and protect clean water in our streams and the residents of my district work very hard at being good stewards of our resources,” Yaw added. “Being a member of the Commission for a number of years, and now Chairman of the Pennsylvania delegation, along with my northern tier roots, gives me a good understanding of where we need to target our clean-up efforts for the Bay, most of which begins south of Harrisburg.”
For a video and submitted comments, visit the Committee website at: https://environmental.pasenategop.com/.
CONTACT: Nick Troutman (717) 787-3280