Pennsylvania is giving a total of more than $6 million to eight counties to help the state meet its pollution reduction commitment to the Chesapeake Bay.
The Department of Environmental Protection is awarding 2020 Environmental Stewardship Fund grants to Adams, Bedford, Centre, Cumberland, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, and York counties.
The counties are responsible for some of the highest levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment running to the Chesapeake Bay, in part due to a heavy agricultural presence there.
How much money each county gets is based on how much runoff each produces.
Lancaster County is getting the largest amount from this round of grants at $2.2 million. The county plans to use it for agricultural barnyard runoff reduction, soil health improvement, and green infrastructure, among other projects.
Adams County plans to use its $373,000 for projects including nutrient management, stream restorations, and rain gardens.
All eight counties plan to hire coordinators to help clean up efforts.
This is the second year of such funding. The eight counties are the only ones eligible for the funding, because they developed or are completing Countywide Action Plans to reduce pollution.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which has criticized Pennsylvania’s overall cleanup plans, says local projects like these are key to protecting local waterways and ultimately the bay.
“But Pennsylvania still has much work to do and a long way to go to meet its clean water obligations by 2025,” said Harry Campbell, the foundation’s Science Policy and Advocacy Director in Pennsylvania.
The foundation and other watershed states are suing the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to limit pollution from Pennsylvania and New York.
This story is produced in partnership with StateImpact Pennsylvania, a collaboration among The Allegheny Front, WPSU, WITF and WHYY to cover the commonwealth's energy economy.