Tioga, Lycoming counties get state watershed grants

WELLSBORO – Tioga and Lycoming counties are among those chosen to receive more than $20.65 million in watershed grants to conservation organizations.

Gov. Tom Corbett announced Wednesday that the state Department of Environmental Protection will invest the grants in watershed protection projects to improve watersheds, reduce storm water runoff and acid mine drainage and support educational programs, among other environmental efforts.

“Maintaining water quality and protecting Pennsylvania’s resources is an important focus of my administration,” Corbett said. “The millions invested in these grants demonstrate our continued commitment to protecting and preserving our environment and natural resources for generations to come.”

In Tioga County the Babb Creek Watershed Association Inc., will receive $253,447 for its Klondike AMD Passive Treatment System Repair.

Association Chairman Jim Ryan said the amount applied for was $313,000.

“The stipulation is we have to come up with a matching grant,” Ryan said.

The money will be used to rehabilitate the old Klondike acid mine drainage treatment system, he said.

“It is an old system that hasn’t been working correctly. It was built in 1996 by DEP,” he added.

The polluted water from the abandoned mine runs into Lick Run which feeds into Babb. Creek, he explained.

“The system is a limestone, compost and settling pond conventional SAPP system,” he said.

The Tioga County Conservation District will receive $196,478 for agricultural best management practices on tributaries to the Cowanesque River.

Conservation District Manager Erica Tomlinson said the award is about half of what was asked for so she wasn’t sure what on the list of planned projects might be bumped.

“We do plan to address best management practices in the north fork of the Cowanesque River,” she said.

Some things that will be addressed include general roof runoff, sediment and nutrient pollution from agriculture.

“We only really had two or three highlighted agriculture impairments in the county and that happens to be one of them. Usually the money becomes available at the start of the next fiscal year,” she said.

In Lycoming County, the Muncy Creek Watershed Association Inc. will receive nearly $14,000 for Little Muncy Creek stabilization.

Drake Saxton, a member of the association, said Little Muncy Creek has a lot of stream bank erosion, causing fields to be lost, and putting houses and bridges in danger.

“They need to stem the erosion. All that soil is being carried downstream all the way to the Chesapeake Bay and upsets the entire ecological makeup of the river,” he said.

He said though the amount of the award is not huge, it can go a long way with volunteer help from various sources including fishermen who want to see healthy fish remain in the creek.

“Sometimes the Fish and Boat Commission provides support by designing structures that go right into the river. In the past, excavators have donated time and equipment to help make a project happen and some local scout troops chip in to actually do some projects,” he added.

This year, the Growing Greener program, funded by the Environmental Stewardship Fund, will award $15,120,608 for 97 projects around the state.

Two of the primary goals under Pennsylvania’s Growing Greener Program are to invest in projects that protect watersheds from impairment due to non-point source pollution and to restore waterways damaged by non-point source pollution. Some examples of priority activities are restoration work to reduce pollutant load in impaired watersheds for which total maximum daily loads have been developed; projects in priority watersheds that would reduce the source of impairment; and priority activities that lead to water quality restoration and protection.

Four additional projects, funded by the Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Grant, will receive $1,953,947.

Two additional grants, totaling $406,975, are funded by the AMD Set Aside Program.

In this latest grant round, 162 eligible applicants requested about $41.8 million.

Applications came from counties, authorities and other municipalities; county conservation districts; councils of governments; watershed organizations that promote local watershed conservation efforts; and other authorized organizations involved in restoring and protecting the environment.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Section 319 Nonpoint Source Management Program, that was created through the federal Clean Water Act to help reduce water pollution from nonpoint sources, is funding 15 additional projects, totaling $3,174,807.

These projects will reduce nonpoint source pollution in impaired streams by implementing agricultural and storm water best management practices; developing, repairing or installing passive systems to treat AMD; and supporting the establishment of riparian buffers, among other methods.

For more information about Growing Greener or to see the complete list of grant recipients, email GrowingGreener@pa.gov, call 717-705-4500 or visit DEP’s website at www.dep.state.pa.us, keyword: Growing Greener.