Monday, May 22, 2017

CBF-PA Applauds Confirmation Of Patrick McDonnell As DEP Secretary

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Pennsylvania Executive Director Harry Campbell issued the following statement Monday following the Pennsylvania Senate’s confirmation of Patrick McDonnell as Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection.
“CBF welcomes the Senate’s confirmation of Patrick McDonnell as Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
“CBF is encouraged by the determination and commitment to clean water in Pennsylvania and the Chesapeake Bay that Patrick McDonnell showed during the year that he served as acting secretary of DEP.
“With 19,000 miles of Pennsylvania rivers and streams harmed by pollution, the challenges are great and the Commonwealth must get back on track toward meeting its clean water commitments.
“CBF looks forward to continuing to work with Secretary McDonnell to achieve the clean water that Pennsylvanians deserve.”
For more on Chesapeake Bay-related issues in Pennsylvania, visit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation-PA webpage.  Click Here to sign up for Pennsylvania updates (bottom of left column).  Click Here to become a member.

Senate Unanimously Confirms Patrick McDonnell As 8th Secretary Of DEP

The Senate Monday voted unanimously to confirm Patrick McDonnell as the 8th Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection since its formation in 1995.  He has served as Acting DEP Secretary since May 20, 2016.
Prior to serving as Acting DEP Secretary, Mr. McDonnell served as Director of Policy for the Department, where he oversaw the agency’s regulation and policy development processes.
In addition, Mr. McDonnell ran the State Energy Office and was charged with coordination of renewable energy and energy efficiency issues.
Prior to returning to DEP, Mr. McDonnell was executive policy manager for former Commissioner Pamela A. Witmer of the Public Utility Commission, focusing on electric, natural gas and water issues as well as cybersecurity and the impact of environmental regulation on energy markets.
Previously, Mr. McDonnell spent 13 years with DEP in a variety of roles. As deputy secretary for administration, he managed the budget, human resources, information technology and oversaw the facilities management functions of the agency.
He also previously served as policy director and as an assistant to the special deputy secretary. He began his career at DEP working in the State Energy Office on energy efficiency, renewable energy, and green building projects.
Related Story:
Acting DEP Secretary McDonnell’s Opening Statement At His Confirmation Hearing

Gov. Wolf Honors Forestry Wildfire Fighters For Combatting 16 Mile Fire In Pike, Monroe Counties

Gov. Tom Wolf Monday presented Governor’s Awards for Excellence to 10 state Bureau of Forestry wildfire fighters for their role in combatting a forest blaze last spring that spread for 15 days, threatening lives and property on the Pike-Monroe county line.
“The employees being recognized today have gone above and beyond their job requirements to provide outstanding service and make government more responsive and effective,” said Gov. Wolf. “Their accomplishments are truly exemplary and inspiring. We are fortunate to have such outstanding public servants working for the people of Pennsylvania.”
Praising all state employees for their dedication at today’s ceremony, Governor Wolf presented awards to 37 employees representing 10 state agencies. The Bureau of Forestry is overseen by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
“These men and women honored here today are representative of the incredible group effort that went above and beyond to contain a wildfire that became very dangerous and very large in a matter of days,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “They filled key positions and worked long shifts over numerous days to extinguish what would become known as the 16 Mile Fire before any loss of life or significant property damage occurred.”
Governor’s Awards for Excellence recipients were:  Bureau of Forestry Forester DCNR Michael Becker, District Forest Manager John Hecker, Forester Gerald Hoy, Forest Maintenance Supervisor Marcus Kaiser, Forester Daniel Lecrone, retired Forester Robert Martynowych, foresters Joseph Miller and Chad Northcraft, Administrative Assistant Hope Reser, and Forest Maintenance Repairman James Stiteler.
The honorees volunteered to join firefighters from 16 states in a battle against two large wildfires in Monroe and Pike counties that eventually merged, scorching close to 9,000 acres and threatening more than 250 homes and businesses.
A Delaware State Forest cabin colony was evacuated and multiple state forest roads were closed during the fires, which burned two leased cabins, three seasonal homes, and six outbuildings.
Fighting the fire was complicated by rugged terrain, windy, dry weather, and dead trees left by former gypsy moth infestations.
The Bureau of Forestry continues to offer a $15,000 reward for information leading to arrests and convictions in what investigators say were two fires intentionally set. Labeled the 16 Mile and Beartown fires, the wildfires were discovered April 20, 2016, and burned through May 2 in Delaware State Forest.
Cost has been set at $2 million for the wildfires in which more than 100 bureau personnel rotated in and out of fire scenes. They were assisted by federal, state, and local emergency and other personnel, as well as a Smokey Bear Hotshot firefighting team from New Mexico.
Reward For Information
Information that could lead to the reward can be forwarded to bureau Special Investigator Terry Smith, 717-362-1472; send email to:; or by calling 570-895-4000. Anonymous tips also are being accepted but do not qualify for the reward.
DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry is responsible for protecting Pennsylvania’s 17 million acres of public and private woodlands from damage by wildfire.
Visit DCNR's Wildland Fire webpage for more information on wildfire prevention.
For more information on state parks and forests and recreation in Pennsylvania, visit DCNR’s website, Click Here to sign up for the Resource newsletter,  Click Here for upcoming events.  Click Here to be part of DCNR’s Online Community,  Click Here to hook up with DCNR on other social media-- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

Penn State Extension: A Green Solution To Stormwater Management

As our landscapes grow and develop, the health of our streams and rivers have been impaired. What we do on the land, or what we cover it with, affects the quantity (volume and velocity) and quality (pollutant levels) of the rainfall that enters our waterways; what many call stormwater.
A Green Solution to Stormwater Management
When it rains in urban and suburban areas, rainwater washes pollutants such as nutrients, chemicals, and heavy metals off impervious surfaces, lawns, or bare soils into storm drains that lead to streams and rivers.
With increased amount of impervious surfaces, larger quantities of rainwater reach the streams quickly causing flash flooding, stream bank scouring, and sedimentation of streambeds.
Because of stream damage, litter, and pollution, stormwater has become a major concern in Pennsylvania impairing 4,170 miles of streams and accounting for one third of the problems facing our waterways.
Municipalities that are designated MS4 communities (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems) by the EPA and DEP are tasked with finding ways to reduce stormwater runoff.
Some municipalities face fines and enforcement for combined sewer overflows that cause untreated sewage to flow into waterways when pipes do not handle increased volumes of stormwater during rain events.
So how to do municipalities begin to reduce stormwater runoff and the pollution associated with it?
Well, they can increase the size of underground pipes, holding tanks, and the capacity of their sewage treatment plants which would cost millions of dollars. Or, they can consider some greener and cheaper solutions in concert with the grey infrastructure of pipes and holding tanks.
One of those green and cheap solutions involves the planting of large canopy trees. A great deal of research by the USDA Forest Service and others has shown that trees and forests reduce stormwater runoff and pollution in several ways.
Canopy Interception
Trees work like large umbrellas intercepting and evaporating rainfall in their canopies. Average interception by deciduous trees can range from 700 to 1,000 gallons of rainwater annually, while an evergreen can intercept more than 4,000 gallons.
Large canopy trees such as London plane or oak planted over impervious surfaces provide more benefit than smaller trees like crabapple.
A recent USDA Forest Service study found that New York City’s street trees reduced stormwater runoff by 890.6 million gallons annually, with a value of $35.6 million in stormwater management costs.
The average street tree in New York City intercepted 1,432 gallons of rainfall annually, while larger trees like London plane almost 3,000 gallons.
Infiltration and Groundwater Recharge
Trees and forests provide for infiltration of rain into the soil to recharge groundwater. In the soil, rainwater is filtered and slowly moves to streams as subsurface flows.
In forest soils, infiltration rates can range from 18 inches per hour to 10 inches per hour depending on soil composition.
In one study of a North Carolina watershed, the mean soil infiltration rate decreased from 12.4 in/hr to 4.4 in/hr when the site was converted from forest to suburban lawn.
Water Consumers
Trees absorb and use tremendous amounts of water for photosynthesis and growth, moving it from the roots back into the atmosphere through leaf evapotranspiration.
A single mature oak tree can transpire over 40,000 gallons of water per year. The cooling of air through evapotranspiration modifies summer temperatures in places surrounding trees.
Hydrologic studies in Pennsylvania forests show that an average of 60 percent of rainfall is taken up by trees and transpired back into the atmosphere. When that forest is removed or harvested, evaporation declines while a stream receives additional water each year.
The ever increasing conversion of forests to lawns and impervious surfaces (buildings, roads, and parking lots) continues to cause stream bank erosion and flooding that causes millions of dollars in damages.
Pollutant Removal
Trees are very good at removing and using nitrates, phosphates, and other nutrients and contaminants such as heavy metals, pesticides, solvents, oils, and hydrocarbons from the soil and water.
This process is called phytoremediation. In one study, a single maple growing road-side, removed 60 mg of cadmium, 140 mg of chromium, 820 mg of nickel, and 5,200 mg of lead in a single growing season, storing those pollutants in their wood.
Stream Stabilizers
Riparian forest buffers filter sediments from streams during storm events, remove nitrogen and phosphorus leached from adjacent lands, provide stability to stream banks, shade and modify stream temperatures, provide aquatic and wildlife habitat for many species, reduce stream velocity, and reduce downstream flooding.
Protected riparian buffer widths vary from 50 feet to provide some bank stability to 250 feet to provide flood mitigation, wildlife habitat, and recreation.
While riparian areas continue to be preserved and restored across the state, mature wooded buffers are destroyed during new construction or by misguided landowners.
It’s time we understand and talk about the role trees, forests, and healthy soils play in keeping our waters clean and reducing stormwater runoff and flooding instead of just mentioning how trees beautify a community.
The Department of Environmental Protection has recently included urban tree planting as one of the control measures that MS4 communities can use to meet the TMDL (total maximum daily load) requirements that have been established to meet their water quality improvement goals.
For more information:
For more information from Penn State’s Urban and Community Forestry Program, contact Vincent Cotrone, Extension Urban Forester, Northeast Region, send email to: or call 570-825-1701.
(Reprinted from the May 22 Watershed Winds newsletter from Penn State Extension.  Click Here to sign up for your own copy.)

Watch This Webinar On Nature’s Financial Benefits From Penn State Extension

What is nature worth? Does it have a hidden value beyond the beauty and welfare of a community? What are we willing to pay to maintain or enhance our quality of life, health, cost of living and economy that nature provides?
Because Mother Nature does not write receipts, nature's financial value is often overlooked or undervalued in policy debates, investment decisions and personal choices. Dauphin County's scenic mountains, farmland views, river corridors, and large forest habitats are more than just pretty places.
They are productive assets that generate millions of dollars each year in savings, earnings and avoided costs for residents, businesses and outdoor recreation enthusiasts.
They contribute to our local economies and property values, and they help us save on everything from healthcare to stormwater management.
They also naturally create greenery, beauty, a sense of place, and improve the air we breathe and the water we drink.
On April 26, 2017, the Penn State Water Resources Extension team hosted a webinar on The Economic Value of Protecting, Restoring and Expanding Nature’s Financial Benefits. The presenter was John Rogers, an environmental consultant, policy planner and current President of the Keystone Conservation Trust.  
This webinar reported on a financial analysis to express a return on the environment (ROE). ROE explains nature's invisible financial value in terms everyone can understand. As a result, policy makers, businesses and residents can begin to see natural systems as a portfolio of financial assets, rather than a commodity or added expense.
Click Here to view the entire one hour recorded webinar.  Click Here to view other recorded webinars in the Penn State Extension Water Resources Webinar Series.
Upcoming Webinars
Here are several upcoming Penn State Extension Water Resources webinars you might be interested in--
(Reprinted from the May 22 Watershed Winds newsletter from Penn State Extension.  Click Here to sign up for your own copy.)

May 22 Watershed Winds Newsletter Now Available From Penn State Extension

The May 22 Watershed Winds newsletter is now available from Penn State Extension featuring articles on--
-- Click Here to sign up for your own copy.

Lehigh Valley Audubon, Delaware & Lehigh Heritage Hosting Nature Programs For Students This Summer

The Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor and the Lehigh Valley Audubon Society are partnering on a series of Wednesday morning children’s nature programs at the Freemansburg Canal Education Center in Freemansburg, Northampton County this summer.
All programs are free-of-charge, although attendance is limited to 12 children at each event and pre-registration is required. A parent or relative is required to attend the programs.
The three-event series, for children of ages 8-12, begins with “The Beauty of Native Plants” from 10-11:30 a.m. on June 21. Children will learn the importance of flowering plants in nature and then will plant six different species on the FCEC grounds.
On July 12, Jenith Flex and Brandon Swayser will lead “A Kid’s Bird Walk Along the Lehigh Canal” from 10-11:30 a.m. Binoculars will be provided for children for this introductory program on bird identification and bird watching.
The final program, “Lessons in Healthy Stream Ecology,” will be conducted August 16 from 10-11:30 a.m. and led by LV Audubon naturalist Chad Schwartz. The program will focus on hidden life forms that inhabit streams and the importance of good water quality.
To register and acquire additional information including directions, contact D&L Education Manager, Dennis Scholl, at 610-923-3548 x225 or send email to:
(Photo: Allentown Morning Call.)

PA American Water Files With PUC To Replace Lead Water Service Lines For 18,000, Or 3% Of Its Customers

PA American Water Monday filed a request with the Public Utility Commission seeking permission to replace customer-owned lead service lines when removing company-owned lead service lines – and to bear the full cost of replacement. 
Pennsylvania American Water’s proposal allots $6 million annually to replace the company’s and customers’ lead service lines.
“With this filing, we are taking an important first step toward a long-term solution to eliminate lead service lines that exist within our communities’ water infrastructure,” said PA American Water President Jeffrey McIntyre. “Lead service lines largely remain in older neighborhoods where the prohibitive costs often prevent homeowners from replacing them. We are asking for PUC approval to address this public health risk, and we have proposed a reasonable approach to recover the cost of our investments.”
McIntyre stressed that Pennsylvania American Water has a long history of complying with federal and state drinking water regulations for lead. For the last 30 years, the company’s lead sampling program has remained in compliance across its water systems.
He credited this record of performance to the company’s effective corrosion control measures and ongoing, professional management of its distribution system.
“We believe that eliminating lead service pipes, together with our proven corrosion control water treatment practices, is a very effective strategy to maintain regulatory compliance well into the future,” said McIntyre.
Preliminary surveys of the company’s distribution system inventory indicate an estimated 18,000 customer premises are connected to lead service lines. These properties comprise less than 3 percent of the total number of customers who receive water service from PA American Water.
In its PUC filing, the company requests investing up to $6 million annually through a two-part program:
1. Proactively remove and replace, with the customer’s consent, any lead service lines that are encountered when the company is replacing water mains and company-side service lines; and
2. At the customer’s request, remove and replace lead service lines, subject to the customer verifying that his/her property has a lead service line. Under this proposal, the company will coordinate customer-requested replacements and group the requests by geographic location. Lead line replacements will take place when the number of requests in a given location enables the company to realize reasonable economies of scale by completing the work as a single project.
Although PA American Water proposes to replace customer-owned lead service lines, its filing states the company will not take ownership or be responsible for maintaining or repairing the customer’s service line in the future.
Each year, PA American Water targets the replacement of 1 percent of the aging water main in its approximately 10,000-mile network of pipe. The company identifies specific areas for its ongoing water main and service line replacement program based on a variety of factors, including water quality concerns, pipe age, material and history of breaks.
McIntyre said the opportunity to eliminate its remaining lead service lines is another factor when planning water main and service line replacement projects.
“A growing body of research indicates that ‘partial’ replacement of lead services, where only the utility-owned or customer-owned portion is replaced and the other segment remains, actually elevates the risk of lead contamination,” said McIntyre.
He cited the National Drinking Water Advisory Council’s recommendation that the EPA revise federal regulations to require complete replacement of both the utility and customer segments of service connections that contain lead.
PA American Water also seeks permission from the PUC to recover its investment through the existing mechanism known as the Distribution System Improvement Charge (DSIC).
If the PUC authorizes it to recover lead service line replacements through the DSIC, the company estimates it will have a negligible effect on its customers’ water bills -- approximately 11 cents per month.
More information on company is available by visiting PA American Water website.

Senate Committee OKs Bill To Retroactively Change Protection For Streams Affected By Coal Mining

The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Monday approved controversial legislation to retroactively change the protection streams receive under Act 54 from underground coal mining-- Senate Bill 624 (Scarnati-R-Jefferson)-- in a party-line vote with all Republicans supporting the bill.
The bill was introduced to influence an appeal now pending before the Environmental Hearing Board of an underground coal mining permit allowing Consol to longwall mine under streams in and around Ryerson Station State Park in Greene County.  (EHB Docket No. 2014-072-B)
Groups like the PA Environmental Council have opposed the bill on the grounds recent studies by the Department of Environmental Protection have demonstrated the existing protections in Act 54 are not adequate to prevent permanent, long-term damage to streams.  Click Here for more.
The other bill on the Committee agenda was reported out unanimously-- Senate Bill 649 (Yudichak-D-Luzerne).  It would fill a significant funding gap in DEP’s Underground Storage Tank Program. Click Here for more.
Both bills go to the Senate Floor for further action.
Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) serves as Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Committee and can be contacted by sending email to:   Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by sending email to:
Observer-Reporter: Consol Agrees Not To Mine Near Kent Run, Ryerson Station State Park

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