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Report Shows PA Missing Clean Water Goals

Pennsylvania is missing goals for reducing agricultural nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. (Dincher/Wikimedia Commons)
Pennsylvania is missing goals for reducing agricultural nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. (Dincher/Wikimedia Commons)
June 22, 2017

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Chesapeake Bay is getting cleaner, but Pennsylvania is falling significantly short of meeting some of its goals for reducing pollution flowing into the bay.

Under the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint, watershed states are required to implement 60 percent of practices to reduce nutrient pollution and sediments flowing into the bay by this year, and 100 percent by 2025.

Bill Chain, senior agriculture program manager at the foundation’s Pennsylvania office, says the foundation's latest two-year milestone assessment shows some progress in the state.

"We're pleased to see that progress, but we are looking at the trend line and recognizing that it isn't happening at a rapid enough rate to meet the 2025 commitment," he states.

Pennsylvania is off by more than 10 percent in seven of 13 categories, especially in curbing nitrogen and phosphorus pollution from agriculture and urban and suburban runoff.

The state has picked up the pace of farm inspections. But Chain notes it is short of the goal of inspecting 10 percent a year, and each inspection only determines if farmers have required plans for reducing pollution.

"What it lacks is the longer conversation necessary with the farmer about the implementation of the conservation practices that are within the plan," he explains.

The Commonwealth is developing a new watershed implementation plan to move toward meeting the 2025 goals.

But Chain maintains the proposed state budget falls far short of providing the investment needed in agencies and technical services at the state and county levels.

"And we'd like to see additional funding to help defray some of the personal investments that farmers are making towards these improvements," he states.

Over the next year, the six Chesapeake Bay watershed states and the federal Environmental Protection Agency will assess progress and develop new plans to meet pollution-reduction goals.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA