Pennsylvania Pipeline Construction Monitoring Program Training

training-flyer

Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper has teamed up with Trout Unlimited to conduct water quality assessments of streams where there is pipeline and other linear construction activities throughout the watershed. Our primary focus is erosion and sedimentation due to earth-moving activities. The first training is Saturday, November 19, at the Montour Preserve in Danville (Columbia County).

Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper is looking to field six (6) teams.

Registration is required and class size is limited. Training includes both classroom work and field experience.

DCNR Riparian Forest Buffer Grant Program

The DCNR Riparian Forest Buffer Program provides reimbursable grants to organizations to establish riparian forest buffers.

Guidelines for the pilot Riparian Forest Buffer Grant Program

Eligible Applicants: Local governments in Pennsylvania, non-profits and educational organizations

Eligible Activities: landowner outreach, buffer design, site preparation and buffer installation, plant materials and tree shelters, and short term maintenance (approximately 3 years).

DCNR will consider a variety of forest buffer project types, including conventional riparian forest buffers and multifunctional buffers. The multifunctional buffer concept has been successfully established in many areas across the nation but is a fairly new idea for Pennsylvania. The multifunctional buffer concept was designed to appeal to a broader set of landowners, provide greater program flexibility, address long-term maintenance issues, and allow landowners to reap a modest income from their buffers. Additional specifics about the concept are provided in links below:

Multifunctional Buffer Fact Sheets

Project Requirements: All buffers, whether conventional or multi-use, must include a minimum 15-foot-wide no-harvest zone next to the streambank of native tree and shrub species. Applicants are strongly encouraged to implement an average buffer width of at least 35 feet. Applicants who undertake a buffer project must be willing to enter into a landowner agreement with each participating landowner for a minimum of 25 years. The agreement will address maintenance requirements among other considerations.

Grant Details: Minimum grant award is $50,000. All grants required a 50/50 match. Match can be cash or non-cash, such as in-kind staff, volunteers, equipment use, etc. DCNR reserves the right to negotiate with applicants on the final award amount, acreage and scope of work. DCNR service foresters will be available to provide technical assistance and advice on communications and outreach efforts, buffer design and species selection, and maintenance practices; they can also participate in partnerships and watershed-level projects.

Additional Assistance: Interested applicants can reach out to DCNR’s Bureau of Recreation and Conservation’s Regional Advisors for more program information. DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry Service Foresters are also available to discuss this program and provide assistance with buffer design, methodology, cost estimates etc.

Click here to start this Grant Program

Deadline: September 15, 2016.

New green infrastructure website/resource for Allegheny County

I want to introduce everyone to a new Green Infrastructure tool that we’ve been working on in the Pittsburgh office: www.pag4g.org.

This was an effort of the Green Infrastructure Network in Pittsburgh to catalog GI projects in the region.  An intern with the Nine Mile Run watershed association and City of Pittsburgh compiled the initial list and created the attribute fields that would be collected for each location.  I’ve attached a file with those fields.  Our hope is that we can populate the map with projects from around the state, starting with the projects that PEC has been involved in.  If you would like to add a project, complete the location attribute spreadsheet and send it to me along with any pictures.

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Jen Novak
PA Environmental Council
22 Terminal Way
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
(412) 481-9400
www.pecpa.org

Major advances in water quality protection

By votes of 4-1, the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) on Friday passed two key new regulations that will strengthen protections on drinking water and watersheds from natural gas drilling pollution as well as other new development projects.

The new drilling rules require treatment of highly saline wastewater so as to meet drinking water standards if they want to dispose of it in Pennsylvania’s waterways. Natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale of Pennsylvania has become greatly scrutinized due to the immense quantities of water used in the process, the chemical additives employed, and the manner of treatment. Between 2 and 9 million gallons are used to “frack” each well in order to release the natural gas deposits. That water is injected with a coctail of chemicals and salts. Some water flows back up and is collected in storage ponds for re-use or treatment. These rules affect the manner in which the water is treated and disposed of into Pennsylvania’s more than 85,000 miles of streams.

The second set of changes to Chapter 102 state regulations approved by the IRRC will require some developers to maintain or create a 150-foot natural vegetative buffer beside Pennsylvania’s best rivers and streams. These rules affect so-called E&S permitting or Erosion and Sedimentation Control measures implemented with construction projects to reduce impact on streams and rivers. Streams in the top 20% statewide for water quality will be subject to the increased protections. Streamside buffers are widely considered to be the best and most effective long-term solution for protection water quality. Buffers help filter water, reduce the impacts of flooding, shade and reduce water temperatures creating better habitat for fish and aquatic species. Clean Water Action says that over 200 municipalities require buffers with 63 requiring at least 100 foot buffers.

The possibility of an impact fee on corporate drilling revenues remains unclear and while supported by the Governor is mired in budget debates and discussion over how to spend the expected hundreds of millions in revenues.

The IRRC is the last step in regulatory review process and is made up of five individuals – four from each of the Assembly’s caucuses (Democrat and Republican in both the Senate and House), as well as an appointee from the Governor. Its mission is to ensure new regulations are consistent with public interest and legislative intent.

PA DEP riparian buffer document open for comment

The PA Department of Environmental Protection’s new Riparian Forest Buffer Draft Technical Guidance document is available for public comment. You can find it online at:http://www.elibrary.dep.state.pa.us/dsweb/Get/Document-76604/394-5600-001.pdf. The comment period is open until November 24th. For more information visit the DEP website at http://www.dep.state.pa.us/TechnicalGuidance/Draft_technical_guidance.asp.
DEP ID:394-5600-001. Title: Riparian Forest Buffer Guidance. Background: The Riparian Forest Buffer Guidance outlines recommendations for installation and protection of riparian forest buffers that are useful in mitigating or controlling point and nonpoint source pollution to waters of the Commonwealth. Riparian forest buffers serve as a barrier to prevent most pollutants from getting into aquatic environments. They also provide enhanced instream contaminant sequestration and degradation. The primary purpose of this guidance is to assist the Department staff in providing and further developing general buffer recommendations for regulatory, voluntary, and grant programs. It will also serve to assist any interested entities in understanding the functions and values of riparian forest buffers, the importance of sustaining and enhancing riparian forest buffers, and in developing appropriate science-based guidelines or policies. Written Comments: Interested persons may submit written comments on this guidance by November 24, 2009. Comments submitted by facsimile will not be accepted. The Department will accept comments submitted by e-mail. A return name and address must be included in each e-mail transmission. Written comments should be submitted to Diane Wilson, Department of Environmental Protection, Rachel Carson State Office Building, P. O. Box 8555, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8555 or diawilson@state.pa.us. Contact: Questions regarding the draft technical guidance document should be directed to Diane Wilson at (717) 787-3730 or diawilson@state.pa.us. Effective Date: Upon publication as final in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.