PHILADELPHIA — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) on Wednesday, Feb. 12, announced $2.4 million in grant funding for 14 projects that will help improve local waters in Pennsylvania and contribute to the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay.
The awards will directly support efforts by local governments and partners throughout the Bay watershed in Pennsylvania to implement water quality projects that reduce stormwater runoff pollution from urban, suburban, and agricultural lands. The $2.4 million in federal funds will be leveraged with $3.4 million in local matching funds for a total impact of nearly $6 million.
The grant awards resulted from an EPA decision in Sep. 2019 to reallocate portions of historic Pennsylvania Chesapeake Bay funding to ensure the funds are spent more quickly and efficiently and help alleviate the commonwealth’s high amount of unspent grant funds, known as unliquidated obligations (ULOs).
“It is a priority for EPA to help our partners advance their plans to restore the Chesapeake Bay and improve local water quality,” said EPA Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio. “We were pleased to work with Pennsylvania and NFWF to ensure that these federal funds were applied in the most timely and beneficial way.”
“Through its 20 year-partnership with EPA on Bay restoration, NFWF has a long history of supporting efforts by Pennsylvania communities to identify, plan, and implement water quality improvement projects that support Bay recovery while also restoring local rivers and streams,” said Amanda Bassow, NFWF’s Northeast regional director. “We’re happy to leverage that legacy in helping deploy critical federal funding to advance local and regional conservation goals.”
Under the plan to reallocate grants from Pennsylvania’s fiscal year 2018 and 2019 Chesapeake Bay Implementation Grant and Chesapeake Bay Regulatory and Accountability Program, EPA directed $2.4 million to NFWF’s Small Watershed Grants program to assist Pennsylvania local governments in implementing priority restoration projects.
EPA also announced plans to redirect funds to support stream-side forest buffer projects proposed by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and to fund critical staff positions, including those at PADEP and Pennsylvania’s Conservation Districts, and up to eight new coordinator positions to implement county action plans under the commonwealth’s Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan.
EPA also accepted an application for Chesapeake Bay funding from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission for stream restoration projects and is encouraging additional applications from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and other Pennsylvania agencies or commissions for projects that improve local water quality and further nutrient and sediment reductions to the Chesapeake Bay.
The grants announced today help protect public health and surface water ecosystems, supporting EPA’s 50th Anniversary celebration: EPA@50: Progress for a Stronger Future and its February theme of protecting America’s waters.