Bay Journal

Bay cleanup effort gets nearly $11 million infusion

Grants go to 39 conservation and pollution reduction projects across watershed

  • By Karl Blankenship on August 25, 2016
Grants announced include $4.8 million for 13 projects in Pennsylvania to help reduce stormwater and farm runoff into the Susquehanna River. (Karl Blankenship)

Efforts that will build habitats in schoolyards, restore mountainous brook trout streams and help clean up one of the region’s most polluted urban rivers were among 39 projects funded Thursday under grant programs aimed at improving local waterways and, ultimately, the Bay.

Altogether, nearly $10.9 million from the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund will go to nonprofits, local governments, universities and state agencies for activities as varied as promoting living shorelines on Virginia’s Northern Neck, fostering “watershed covenant communities” in churches and introducing phosphorus balances on farmlands.

The grants “demonstrate just how important local water quality is to broader efforts to restore the Bay,” said Amanda Bassow, Northeastern Region director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

NFWF, a nonprofit created by Congress to support natural resource protection and restoration, administers the fund, though it is financed primarily through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The grants are expected to leverage about $12 million in additional funding from other sources.

The announcement was made in Pennsylvania, where Bay cleanup efforts are significantly behind schedule. EPA Region 3 Administrator Shawn Garvin called the grants “critical in supporting Pennsylvania’s renewed commitment to get back on track” with meeting its Chesapeake cleanup goals.

To accelerate those efforts, the Keystone state got the largest chunk of funding — $4.8 million -- to support 13 projects, with more than $5.1 million expected in matching funds.

Among the Pennsylvania projects supported, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay will work with Plain Sect farmers in the Octoraro Creek watershed to install practices that protect drinking water and reduce runoff. The state Department of Agriculture will work to increase farmer participation in runoff control programs by demonstrating the link between conservation efforts, herd heath and profitability.

Grants elsewhere in the Bay watershed include:

• $200,000 in the District of Columbia to support efforts by the Anacostia Waterfront Trust to leverage private capital for innovative stormwater projects on private land;

• $3.5 million in Virginia for 11 projects, such as accelerating cleanup efforts in the East Branch of the Elizabeth River, considered one of the “worst of the worst” stretches of any Bay tributary, and for a Virginia Tech project aimed at reducing phosphorus on farms in the Shenandoah Valley while maintaining livestock production;

• $1 million in West Virginia for three projects, such as restoring part of Hamilton Run in Charles Town and protecting forest buffers through conservation easements;

• $3 million in Maryland for 13 projects, such as retrofitting five churches with “micro-bioretention” facilities to test their effectiveness at controlling storm runoff in highly urbanized areas where space is limited, and to create a network of schoolyard habitats in Baltimore;

• $822,787 in Delaware for two grants including a regional effort to manage phosphorus in intensive animal production areas, and a project to get farmers to adopt advanced nutrient management practices.

Funding for the grants came from two EPA programs. About $6.1 million for 11 projects were awarded through the Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction program aimed at promoting cost-effective ways to dramatically reduce Bay and river pollution. A number of this year’s grants are seeking to curtail phosphorus from agriculture and to promote green infrastructure in urban areas.

Another $4.8 million went to 28 projects through the Small Watershed Grants program, which helps organizations and local governments do Bay-oriented projects, such as wetland enhancements, fish passages and stream habitat improvements.

Since 2006, the Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction grant program has provided $58 million to 140 projects in the Bay watershed, while the Small Watershed Grants program has provided $47 million to 773 projects in the region since its creation in 1999.

A full list of this year’s stewardship fund grants can be found here.

About Karl Blankenship

Karl Blankenship is editor of the Bay Journal and executive director of Chesapeake Media Service. He has served as editor of the Bay Journal since its inception in 1991. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Read more articles by Karl Blankenship

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