DEP Press Release
May 10, 2016
DEP and County Conservation Districts Collaborating on Farm Inspection Details in Chesapeake Bay Watershed Harrisburg, PA – In a briefing to the State Conservation Commission (SCC) today, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) officials will discuss details of the collaboration between DEP and county conservation districts to conduct farm inspections in the Chesapeake Bay watershed as part of the recently announced “Bay Reboot” strategy. DEP announced the strategy in January. It was developed in conjunction with the Pennsylvania departments of Agriculture, and Conservation and Natural Resources, and the State Conservation Commission. The strategy relies on a mix of technical and financial assistance for farmers, improved technology, expanded data gathering, improved program coordination and capacity and – when necessary – stronger enforcement and compliance measures. The Tom Wolf administration sought additional resources from the federal government, and has been working with farm organizations to assist in capturing on-the-farm data of best management practices throughout the bay watershed. Capturing this data is essential to Pennsylvania receiving full credit in the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) model, which is used to measure progress toward pollution reduction goals. DEP Secretary John Quigley and Veronica Kasi, program manager of DEP’s newly formed Chesapeake Bay Program Office, will deliver the update to SCC members at their statewide meeting in Harrisburg and provide a timeline for implementation. “With valuable feedback from our partners, DEP has developed a draft Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and inspection report form for conservation district and agency staff to follow when completing field inspections as called for as part of the reboot strategy,” Quigley said. “DEP will send pre-inspection letters to farmers to make them aware of the inspection program and afford them an opportunity to demonstrate compliance prior to a field inspection.” In December 2010, EPA developed a total maximum daily load (TMDL) for the Chesapeake Bay in response to court orders and the federal Clean Water Act, which requires Pennsylvania to reduce annual discharges of nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment entering the bay watershed. These reductions are needed to meet water quality standards by 2025. The Bay Reboot strategy is a recognition by the Wolf administration that a "mid-course change in direction," or refocus of work, is necessary because Pennsylvania will not reach the goals as described in the current Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP). Quigley said DEP also just finished pilot-testing the draft SOP this month in a few counties. The results of this pilot testing, along with other comments received from conservation district and agency staff, will be used to finalize this draft SOP, which can be found on DEP’s website here. Once finalized, DEP and conservation district staff will be provided with formal training before full implementation of the program in July. County conservation district staff have had a role in compliance inspections under the Chapter 83 Nutrient Management and Chapter 102 Erosion & Sedimentation regulatory programs for decades. As part of the Bay Reboot strategy, conservation district staff will shift their focus from conducting 100 educational farm visits to conducting 50 farm inspections each year. The inspections will initially focus on ensuring farmers have implemented manure management and erosion and sedimentation plans as well as identifying any significant water quality problems. “We want to make sure conservation district staff have all the tools and training they need to properly conduct these inspections while continuing their invaluable work of providing our farm community with compliance assistance,” Quigley said. “This collaborative approach with input from all of our partners will be key to our success in improving our water quality.” The strategy centers around six elements: • Put high-impact, low-cost Best Management Practices (BMPs) on the ground, and quantify undocumented BMPs in watersheds impaired by agriculture or stormwater. • Improve reporting, record keeping and data systems to provide better and more accessible documentation. • Address nutrient reduction by meeting EPA’s goal of inspecting 10 percent of farms in the watershed, ensuring development and use of manure management and agricultural erosion and sediment control plans, and enforcement for non-compliance. • Identify legislative, programmatic or regulatory changes to provide the additional tools and resources necessary to meet federal pollution reduction goals by 2025. • Obtain additional resources for water quality improvement. • Establish a Chesapeake Bay Office to coordinate the development, implementation and funding of the commonwealth’s Chesapeake Bay efforts. The draft Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and related materials on Pennsylvania’s Chesapeake Bay Program can be found here.
April 27, 2016
DEP Expands Particulate Matter Air Monitoring Network
Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has launched an unprecedented expansion of the state’s fine particulate matter (PM2.5) ambient air monitoring network to ensure human health is protected in rural Pennsylvania. “We have heard citizens of this commonwealth express concerns about air quality in areas near natural gas activities,” said DEP Secretary John Quigley. “With this expansion, we can better assess the ambient air in the natural gas regions.” “Focusing on the regions with significant numbers of natural gas compressor stations, we’re installing continuous PM2.5 samplers in under-monitored areas of the state,” said Quigley. “We simply don’t have data on air quality in these areas. We need that data and monitoring capability to help us understand whether or not there are risks or impacts to public health from current air quality in these areas.” By the fall of 2017, DEP will expand its existing PM2.5 air monitoring network of 27 monitoring sites by adding continuous PM2.5 samplers in 10 northern tier and southwestern counties. In addition, health departments in Philadelphia and Allegheny counties operate PM2.5 samplers at 15 monitoring sites, including seven PM2.5 monitors operated by Philadelphia Air Management Services, and eight PM2.5 sensors operated by the Allegheny County Health Department. As part of DEP’s expansion of the network, continuous PM2.5 monitors recently installed at existing sites in Greene (Holbrook Township) and Bradford (Towanda Township) counties became operational last month. DEP intends to install PM2.5 monitors in Fayette, Indiana, Lycoming, Susquehanna, and Wyoming, counties by the end of 2016. Monitors will also be installed in Clarion, Jefferson, and McKean counties by the fall of 2017. The estimated total cost of the project including the purchase, installation, and maintenance of the additional PM2.5 monitors and the cost of replacement equipment over a five-year period is approximately $1.56 Million. Federal Clean Air Act grant funds received by DEP under the PM2.5 Air Monitoring Network Grant will help defray the cost of Pennsylvania’s expanded air monitoring network. Fine particulate pollution, including nitrates and sulfates, organic chemicals, metals, soils or dust, are the result of a wide range of industrial processes and fuel combustion, including emissions caused by logging, agriculture, natural gas development and transmission, and vehicles. The human health impacts from accumulation in the respiratory system include decreased lung function and increased respiratory symptoms and disease. Young children, the elderly and those with respiratory problems including asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis, are especially vulnerable to the effects of particle pollution. The PM2.5 ambient air monitoring data will be available to the general public via the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “AIRNOW’ system. This data will also be posted on the EPA and DEP websites. For more information on air monitoring, go to the DEP's website here.
Media Contact: Neil Shader, 717-787-1323