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Collaboration is Key to Controlling PA's Polluted Runoff

PHOTO: Efforts are underway to better control storm water runoff that's polluting Pennsylvania waterways. Photo credit: iStockphoto.com.
PHOTO: Efforts are underway to better control storm water runoff that's polluting Pennsylvania waterways. Photo credit: iStockphoto.com.
January 15, 2014

HARRISBURG, Pa. - From trash to fertilizers to pet waste, polluted runoff in Pennsylvania waterways is a growing concern. Now, there's an effort to give communities the tools they need to get a better handle on it.

Harry Campbell, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in Pennsylvania, said pollution that gets its start on a city street, a suburban parking lot or even a rooftop, can end up doing damage far away.

"Urban and suburban polluted runoff impairs over 2,500 miles of streams in Pennsylvania," he said, "and is one of the leading causes of pollution affecting not only the Susquehanna River but ultimately the Chesapeake Bay."

In York County, Campbell said, the planning commission and others have put together a watershed implementation plan to help guide the initiative.

"The York County effort is a prime example of dealing with polluted runoff from urban and suburban communities in a way that yields multiple benefits, at multiple scales, at the least cost," Campbell said.

Taking aim at pollution by helping communities help themselves brings about benefits that extend beyond the local waterways, he said.

"Hopefully, at the end of the day," Campbell said, "that will not only create a better environment, reduce flooding, but also improve our quality of life, our communities and the economic vitality of them."

Campbell said the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has launched a pilot program of educational and technical resources for communities to help them reduce polluted runoff. York is one of two counties in the program, and the first in the state to look at curbing the pollution from a county level.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - PA