PHILADELPHIA -- EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin joined Mayor Rick Gray and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Director of Chesapeake Programs Amanda Bassow at a press conference today in Lancaster to tout locally-led efforts to restore watersheds and engage people in environmental stewardship work. More than $1.8 million in grants will fund seven projects, including one in the City of Lancaster, that will ultimately improve the health of Lancaster area rivers, streams and the Chesapeake Bay.
The Lancaster area projects are among 41 selected this year by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, a nonprofit which administers grants on behalf of EPA and other funders under the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund. A $350,000 EPA grant to the City of Lancaster will fund a project to drastically reduce polluted stormwater runoff in the city by retrofitting private properties covered by impervious surfaces.
“Managing urban stormwater is critical to protecting local rivers and streams and creating healthier, more sustainable communities,” said EPA Regional Administrator Garvin. “When local governments and private sector stakeholders step up and commit to creative solutions, that's when restoration efforts really succeed. EPA is proud to provide resources for these efforts that can serve as models for other communities in this area and throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed.”
Garvin commended Mayor Gray and other local leaders at today’s event for their on-the-ground actions to tackle stormwater pollution and other environmental threats to communities and waterways.
“The City of Lancaster is eager to demonstrate how the use of green infrastructure techniques and innovative financing can help communities overcome the challenges involved in managing stormwater,” said Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray. “Our EPA-funded project promises multiple water-quality, community health and economic benefits that stand to last for years to come not just here in Lancaster but throughout the Bay watershed.”
“Lancaster is a leader in developing innovative solutions to protect local waters and clean-up polluted runoff from city streets, and from area farms,” said Amanda Bassow, Director of Chesapeake Programs at NFWF. “We are pleased to be able to leverage funds from diverse agencies like EPA, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Forest Service, with private funding from Altria Group, to make these grants possible.”
The City of Lancaster will use its grant to create and pilot an innovative business model for financing urban stormwater retrofits on privately-owned properties. Given that more than 87% of land area in the city is privately-owned, providing financial incentive for retrofitting impervious surfaces on private properties may prove effective in accelerating the City’s effort to reduce stormwater runoff. Unmanaged stormwater accumulates debris, chemicals, sediment, or other pollutants that could adversely affect water quality.
After piloting its financing program, the City of Lancaster will transfer responsibility to a selected private consortium for continued implementation using private equity investment instead of grant funding. The overall goal is to offer a successful business model that can be adapted and used by other Bay jurisdictions.
Other Lancaster area projects funded this year under the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund:
- Penn State University $378,105 Grant -- PSU will facilitate and employ an innovative public/private partnership approach to accelerate forest riparian buffer and green infrastructure restoration efforts in Pennsylvania’s nutrient “hot spot” of Dauphin, Lancaster, and Lebanon Counties. Community “green visioning” sessions will result in greater acceptance and adoption of green infrastructure approaches to stormwater management. A volunteer conservation corps will engage in tree plantings, buffer maintenance, and seedling rescues to establish a regional native tree nursery.
- Lancaster County Clean Water Consortium $150,000 Grant -- Brought together by LCCWC, six diverse municipalities throughout Lancaster County – Mount Joy and Lititz Boroughs, and Manheim, West Lampeter, East Cocalico, and Warwick Townships – will develop a collaborative approach to managing municipal stormwater programs via sustainable financing strategies. The participating municipalities range from extremely rural to large suburban and vary in their political, economic, and social landscapes. The municipalities are receiving technical consulting services from the Environmental Finance Center (EFC) at the University of Maryland.
- Stroud Water Research Center $500,000 Grant -- The Stroud Water Research Center will accelerate implementation of agricultural best management practices in Lancaster County by providing technical assistance to farmers and advancing nutrient credit trading opportunities. A partnership of public agencies and private groups will bring an estimated 27 farms to full regulatory compliance, demonstrating that the process is affordable and achievable.
- Chesapeake Bay Foundation $200,000 Grant -- CBF and its partners will provide outreach and technical assistance in south-central Pennsylvania to accelerate first-time enrollment of new Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) forested buffers. The project will achieve 368 acres of new CREP forested buffers, including 57 acres of wetland restoration. The Foundation will also work to increase landowners’ use of available cost-share for post-planting care, resulting in 1,715 acres of buffers being improved through better maintenance. In addition to the push for new buffers, the project will enable willing landowners to re-enroll existing CREP forested buffers under fresh contracts.
- Nature Conservancy $161,158 Grant -- The Nature Conservancy and its partners will implement conservation practices to improve water quality and brook trout habitat in the Juniata, Lower Susquehanna, and Potomac River watersheds. The project will use science-based spatial analysis to identify priority areas where restoration can be expected to achieve water quality benefits; help landowners participate more effectively in Farm Bill conservation programs (specifically the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program); restore forested riparian buffers; and, exclude livestock from riparian corridors.
- Borough of Wrightsville, York County $100,000 Grant -- The Borough and Susquehanna Gateway Heritage Area will receive technical assistance to design several innovative green infrastructure practices at its revitalized Riverfront Park. The park is the cornerstone of eco-tourism & community development and is on the Susquehanna. The design will seek to efficiently manage urban stormwater and improve the environmental function of the river corridor associated with the park, as part of a holistic approach to revitalize the park’s green infrastructure.