Public News Service – Pennsylvania waterways are drowning in pollution, with over 28,000 miles impaired according to the state. And cleanup is once again going to be a big issue in 2024.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation says its priorities include streambank fencing to keep livestock out of waterways, and more funding for sustainable farm practices.
Foundation Pennsylvania Staff Attorney Trisha Salvia said initiatives like the Clean Streams Fund offer a crucial lifeline, but continued support for the Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program will be vital to keeping waters healthy.
“ACAP, the Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program – as part of the Clean Streams Fund – was given $154 million of the American Rescue plan Act money,” said Salvia, “which is federal funding to get the program started. But once that money is gone, then the program needs to have continued, sustained, dedicated funding.”
Salvia pointed out that ACAP allows farmers to work with their county conservation districts on farming practices that help reduce nutrients and sediment runoff into local waterways.
Salvia emphasized that another priority is streambank fencing along local waters. She explained that there is legislation that would help to keep livestock out of streams.
“House Bill 677 is that it does not create a mandate, it just eliminates antiquated prohibition,” said Salvia. “And many farmers are doing voluntary efforts on putting in streambank fencing. And so, this bill would help that even more.”
She added that Pennsylvania is the fourth-largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the country, so the Foundation would like to see more action to reduce that.
She said greenhouse gases continue to pose significant threats to personal and economic health, climate stability, and the quality of local rivers and streams.