Friday, September 9, 2016

$278,000 in Water Quality Grants Announced

Silas Chamberlin, executive director of the
Schuylkill River heritage Area.
Blogger's Note: The following was provided by the Schuylkill River heritage Area.

The Schuylkill River Heritage Area has distributed grants totaling $278,832 to eight projects this year that will improve water quality in the Schuylkill River.

The Schuylkill River Restoration Fund grants were awarded to six projects that will focus on stormwater runoff, abandoned mine drainage and agricultural pollution. 

Also awarded were two land transaction grants that will assist with protection of a priority watershed parcel. 

The projects are:
  • Borough of Pottstown, Stormwater Filter Project: $40,000: The Borough will install a new backflow prevention device to mitigate chronic roadway flooding and a new water quality unit to remove pollutants before they can discharge into the Schuylkill River.
  • East Coventry, Kulp Property: $4,000: Natural Lands Trust will purchase a conservation easement on a 30-plus acre property to protect important natural resources including the headwaters of Pigeon Creek. This project will also provide public access to a trail system in the East Coventry Township trail network.
  • Barto, Meyers Horse Farm: $8,332: Berks County Conservation District project will install best management practices on a horse farm operation in Barto to aid in preventing manure, sediment and other non-point source water pollution from entering the West Branch of the Perkiomen Creek. A roofed manure stacking pad will be constructed as well as a stabilized gravel lot. Stormwater controls will also be installed to aid to manage runoff.
  • Berks Nature, Durkin Farm: $95,000: Berks Nature will install a manure storage facility and water transfer system on a 501 acre dairy farm located on Manor Creek, a tributary of Maiden Creek. Additionally, the farm will install stormwater controls throughout the barnyard as well as streambank fencing and improved riparian buffers.
  • Berks Nature, Zettlemoyer Farm: $50,000: This project will implement various agricultural Best Management Practices on a 445-acre heifer operation located on Manor Creek. Two dry storage facilities will be installed along with a waste transfer system, stormwater controls and streambank fencing.
  • Berks Nature, St. Lawrence Property: $4,000: The St. Lawrence Borough land protection project will permanently protect through a conservation easement a 245-acre high priority landscape of forested property on an unnamed tributary of Antietam Creek. This project will contribute to the preservation and conservation of water quality within the upper Schuylkill River.
  • Schuylkill Headwaters Association, Big Creek Limestone Project: $40,000: The Schuylkill Headwaters Association will implement a dosing of high calcium limestone sand into the headwaters of Big Creek in an effort to reduce in-stream acidity. The restoration of Big Creek’s water quality will result in an average of 6,407 gallons per minute of treated water entering the headwaters of the Schuylkill River.
  • North Light Community Schoolyard Stormwater Project: $37,500: The North Light Community Center will complete a schoolyard renovation project at their educational facility in Philadelphia. Impervious playground surface will be removed and a stormwater management system will be installed that will include a rain garden and native plants. This project will serve as a learning lab for both the students and the community. 
The grant fund is administered by the Schuylkill River Heritage Area. This year, funds were provided by Exelon Generation’s Limerick Generating Station, the Philadelphia Water Department, Aqua PA and MOM’s Organic Market.

About 50 people attended the award announcement, which took place at the scenic Marty Nothstein Property in Port Clinton, PA, a 170-acre property that received funding and a permanent conservation easement through a restoration fund award in 2012. This property has been identified as a high-priority parcel that includes over 1,000 feet of river frontage.

The Schuylkill River Restoration Fund announcement was held in conjunction with a Schuylkill Action Network Project Tour that visited three watershed project sites.

“Over the past 11 years, the Schuylkill River Restoration Fund has distributed $2.7 million—and leveraged another $4.7 million—for 82 projects that improve water quality in the Schuylkill River watershed,” said Schuylkill River Heritage Area Executive Director Silas Chamberlin. “The success of this fund demonstrates how non-profit, government, and private sectors can work together to protect and restore the Schuylkill River, which is a source of drinking water for 1.5 million people.”

Grant recipients were selected by an advisory committee consisting of: Exelon Generation, Delaware River Basin Commission, Philadelphia Water Department, Environmental Protection Agency, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, Schuylkill River Heritage Area, Aqua PA, and the Schuylkill Action Network.

“The Schuylkill River Restoration Fund clearly shows what can be achieved by partners working together to implement grassroots water quality improvement projects that benefit all who rely on the Schuylkill and its tributaries,” said Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) Executive Director Steve Tambini. “On behalf of the DRBC, I am pleased to be here today as we announce the eight projects selected this year to receive grants and to thank the awardees for their efforts.”

This year, fund donations came from Exelon Generation ($183,885), Philadelphia Water Department ($100,000), Aqua PA ($7,500) and MOM’s Organic Market ($1,087). All funds not distributed this year will be rolled over into 2017.

“Protecting and preserving the Schuylkill River is very important to us,” said Rick Libra, Exelon's Limerick site vice president. “We are proud to be part of this unique partnership that recognizes the innovative stewardship efforts of these projects to improve the quality of the Schuylkill River.”

The Land Transaction Assistance Grants program provides matching grants of up to $4,000 per project to pay for costs associated with property purchases and conservation easements on high priority lands for water quality and habitat protection.

Exelon has provided over $2 million to the Schuylkill River Restoration Fund since it was founded in 2005; the Philadelphia Water Department has contributed $700,000 over the past seven years. Aqua PA has donated over $22,000 and MOM’s Organic Market over $2,700.

The Schuylkill Action Network and the Schuylkill River Heritage Area continue to seek additional contributors in an effort to further expand the fund.

The fund was originally created under a Delaware River Basin Commission docket approved in 2004 and Exelon Generation’s desire to support restoration efforts in the Schuylkill River and its tributaries.

The Philadelphia Water Department’s contribution to the fund is leveraged by other watershed partners and is directed towards addressing stormwater management and pollution mitigation projects upstream of the City’s two drinking water intakes on the Schuylkill River.

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