PA DEP “Healthy Waters, Healthy Communities” Storymap Shares Tips and Shows Benefits of Improving Water Quality in Pennsylvania’s Part of Chesapeake Bay Watershed
Harrisburg, PA – As part of Chesapeake Bay Watershed Awareness Week, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today launched a new storymap, Healthy Waters, Healthy Communities, that shares tips for reducing nutrient and sediment runoff pollution and shows the benefits of improving water quality in Pennsylvania’s part of the watershed. All or part of 43 counties are in the watershed.
“Reducing runoff is a challenge for everyone, everywhere. This is pollution that runs off farm fields, overfertilized turf, and roads and other hard surfaces—things that are prevalent in our modern lives—and goes directly into our waters,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Although the challenge is great, communities, farmers, businesses, organizations, and state government partners are taking action and making exciting progress across the watershed. The storymap shares some of this passion and work, and shows Pennsylvanians the many ways they can help.”
Over 12,000 miles of streams and rivers in the watershed have been degraded by nutrient and sediment runoff pollution. Actions to reduce runoff will help foster a healthy watershed with benefits to all aspects of Pennsylvanians’ lives, from providing safe drinking water to protecting soil quality for better crop yield, reducing flooding, and providing outdoor recreation enjoyment and jobs.
Healthy Waters, Healthy Communities highlights numerous success stories, including a Lycoming County farmer who saw his cattle benefit from stream bank buffers, eleven Blair County municipalities partnering on stormwater management projects, and a York County homeowner who turned his entire one-acre suburban yard into a bioswale and raingarden.
Information appears throughout the storymap on DEP, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), and Department of Agriculture programs that offer funding and technical support.
“This storymap is yet another invaluable tool in helping us all help the Chesapeake Bay Watershed,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “It will enable us to better focus on increasing resources and technical assistance, reinvigorate partnerships and create a culture of compliance in protecting Pennsylvania’s water quality and, by virtue of that, the quality of the Chesapeake Bay.”
“Improving water quality in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed is both a requirement and a responsibility for us all,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “The only way Pennsylvania will meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s reduction targets by 2025 is if we all do our part. Farmers make their living off clean soil and water, that is why they are the original stewards of the land. Much has been asked of farmers, and they’ve responded to the call to improve water quality.”
Top tips and printable one-pager handouts show what farmers, municipal leaders, business owners, and residents can do to reduce runoff, from installing fences and planting vegetation on a stream bank to joining their Countywide Action Plan. Meaningful Watershed Education Experiences and other tools for teachers are included, and a Northeastern School District science teacher talks about how planting a stream bank buffer is meaningful for students.
“Deep dives” explore topics such as the contributions that outdoor recreation and agriculture make to Pennsylvania’s economy, the positive impacts that green infrastructure has on business, and the vital connection between trees and water quality. Like shelter for humans, trees are essential to healthy streams and rivers.
Healthy Waters, Healthy Communities also shares the natural wonders of the watershed. “Test Your Water Smarts” invites storymap visitors to see if they’re as smart about water quality as the eastern hellbender, the Pennsylvania state amphibian. Hellbenders seek the healthiest waters to live.
Learn more about Chesapeake Bay Watershed Awareness Week.
Deb Klenotic, DEP