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Environment & Energy

Pennsylvania to Help Clean Up the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Pennsylvania isn't exactly leading the pack of the six states and Washington, D.C. in plans for reducing pollution to the Chesapeake Bay watershed. However, the state's plan for bringing down waste water pollution has been upgraded per the Environment Protection Agency's (EPA) estimation.

A separate plan for minimizing agricultural runoff is getting some amount of scrutiny from the federal government, but the proposal to cut nearly half of urban and suburban storm water pollution is being called overly ambitious.

Shawn Garvin, a Regional Administrator with the federal agency, explained why the EPA deemed the state plan unfeasible. "It's a pretty ambitious, heavy lift, and we're still working with them to figure out how they're actually going to accomplish it, and so, based on that we feel, there's still more work to be done," Garvin said.

Kelly Heffner, Deputy Secretary for Water Management in the EPA, said the concern may have more to do with the size of the state than the size of its promised reductions. "The sector is just so big and the load is just so large that they're concerned that even the best plans couldn't get maybe to the entire load, so they're keeping an eye on that for the time being, and quite frankly, so are we," Heffner said.

Heffner added the state is looking for "strictly voluntary" cooperation from the relevant counties and municipalities that will need to help implement clean-up plans. "Strictly working together as a commonwealth to do these local water quality improvements, you know, to inform and get cleanup in the bay. And quite honestly we haven't really talked about getting the stick out," Heffner said.

An EPA administrator said the agency recognizes the Commonwealth does have more locally-controlled municipalities to wrangle than most other Chesapeake Bay watershed states. Outreach efforts to local governments looking for collaboration on the bay cleanup methods have already begun.