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Pa. and the bay

The Associated Press news story “Pa. makes progress on Chesapeake Bay cleanup” addressed a report published by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Choose Clean Water Coalition that focused on alleged failures by Pennsylvania to restore the Chesapeake Bay and underrated the state’s true progress.

Pennsylvania has directed more than $3.9 billion in grants, loans and program investments toward Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts. These investments are paying off. The most recent Chesapeake Bay program assessment showed Pennsylvania’s phosphorous reductions exceeded the watershed model milestone by 5.1 percent. Pennsylvania very narrowly missed the milestones for nitrogen, by 1.8 percent, and sediment, by 4.8 percent, despite seeing continued reductions for both.

Consider Pennsylvania’s efforts in terms of overall water quality improvement. Solely examining individual best management practices, like nutrient management plans and forested buffers, is an inaccurate measure of progress. Long-term trends show that since 1985, Pennsylvania has reduced phosphorous pollution in the bay by 25 percent, nitrogen by 10 percent and sediment by 15 percent.

I encourage all Pennsylvanians who live, work and play in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed to consider ways they can make a positive impact on their local watershed. After all, everyone lives downstream.

Kelly Heffner

Harrisburg

The writer is the state Department of Natural Resources’ deputy secretary of water management.


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