The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has awarded $19.3 million in 2024 Countywide Action Plan Implementation Grants to county teams across Pennsylvania’s share of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. These grants support efforts in reducing nutrient and sediment pollution to restore the health of local streams, rivers, and lakes.
“These grants have proven to be effective in boosting projects restoring Pennsylvania streams, rivers and lakes,” said DEP Interim Acting Secretary Jessica Shirley. “Since 2021, we’ve seen teams implement everything from streambank tree plantings to livestock crossing installations. I’m excited to see the ingenuity and progress made by this year’s grant recipients. Their work benefits not only their communities, but our Commonwealth and beyond.”
Nutrient pollution and eroded sediment can enter streams, rivers and lakes from wastewater treatment and other activities on land, such as using too much fertilizer, plowing and tilling farm fields, stripping away trees and vegetation, and expanding concrete and paved surfaces. Nutrient pollution like nitrogen and phosphorus can cause algal blooms that block sunlight from reaching the underwater grasses that provide critical food and habitat for aquatic life. In addition to also blocking sunlight by making the water cloudy, sediment pollution like soil runoff smothers creatures that live at the bottom of rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay – like oysters, clams, mussels, worms, and insects.
Like the other jurisdictions in the watershed, Pennsylvania is mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to lower its nutrient and sediment pollution levels by 2025. Pennsylvania is required to reduce nitrogen by 34.13 million pounds and phosphorus by 750,000 pounds.
The 2024 CAP Implementation Grant round brought in applications for 226 projects that will be completed in the next 12 to 18 months, resulting in an estimated reduction of over 170,000 pounds/year of nitrogen, 122,000 pounds/year of phosphorus, and 36.3 million pounds/year of sediment.