Thursday, June 22, 2017

Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority Takes Leadership Role In MS4 Stormwater Program To Save Communities More Than 50% In Compliance Costs

The Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority has been providing wastewater treatment services for residents of Luzerne County since 1962. WVSA’s service area includes 35 municipalities from Harveys Lake to Pittston to Newport Township.
Not only is the Authority managing upgrades to deal with its combined wastewater and stormwater sewer system, it has proposed a new role for itself in serving as permit administrator to comply with the MS4 Stormwater pollution prevention program for its member municipalities.
As of June 22, the Authority has heard from only one of the 36 communities who said they do not want to join the regional program.  Two other municipalities--  Dallas Borough and Dallas township have said they plan to join another multi-municipal efforts lead by the Dallas Area Municipal Authority.
Under its program, the Authority estimated the cost to property owners would be from $36 to $54 per year or $3 to $4.50 per month, depending on the impervious area on a property.  This estimate is more than half the cost of complying with the requirements if the communities went on their own.
The Authority will take the responsibility for--
-- Preparation of a Regional Chesapeake Bay Pollution Reduction Plan (PRP) and Watershed Based PRPs to reduce sediment pollution from each municipality by 10 percent, phosphorus by 5 percent  and nitrogen by 3 percent for submission by municipalities to Department of Environmental Protection (due September 2017).
-- Design, implementation and ownership of Best Management Practices (BMPs) outlined in the PRP (implementation of BMPs must be complete by March 2023).
-- Operation and maintenance of BMPs installed by WVSA.
-- System-wide mapping of separate stormwater infrastructure (including Pollution Control Measures (PCMs) included as part of Appendix A and Appendix C of various MS4 permits held by individual municipalities).
-- Completion of all efforts necessary for municipalities to comply with Minimum Control Measures (MCM) #1(Public Education), #2 (Public Involvement) and #6 (Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping).
-- Completion of mapping activities and regional training for municipal staff related to MCM #3 (Illicit Discharge Detection)
-- Development of standard ordinances relative to MCM #5 (Post-Construction Runoff Control).
-- Provision of emergency operation and maintenance support to municipalities relative to separate storm sewer system operation.
-- Provision of funding to municipalities to support repair, rehabilitate and replace existing stormwater infrastructure, or the implementation of local BMPs (currently assumed to be $10/year/ERU).
-- Development of two to four regional stormwater parks in the Wyoming Valley Region.
-- Provide documentation to municipalities relative to BMP implementation of MCMs completed by WVSA for use by the municipalities in submitting annual MS4 Status Update Reports. Provide additional guidance to municipalities relative annual MS4 reporting requirements.
Advantages Of Regional Approach - 50% Savings
The Authority notes under a “per municipal” approach to MS4 permit compliance, each municipality would bear the cost of developing their own pollution reduction plans and siting BMPs within their municipality, and within the drainage area of impaired waterways, in order to ensure the required pollutant load reductions-- 10 percent sediment, 5 percent phosphorus and 3 percent nitrogen-- are met.
Under a regional approach in Wyoming Valley, DEP will accept a single Chesapeake Bay pollution reduction plan for all 36 municipalities and six watershed based plans for the Region.
If a municipality were to complete Pollution Reduction Planning and implementation on their own, they are limited to the available land in their municipality and, in many cases, in the drainage area of an impaired stream.
A regional plan provides significant flexibility in that the BMPs may be located anywhere within the watershed.
This provides the opportunity to site and select BMP’s in ways which provide the greatest pollutant reduction for the lowest cost.
In the case of the Wyoming Valley Region, regional Pollution Reduction Planning results in a reduced number of required BMP’s for permit compliance which cuts the average cost per municipality by more than half.
To learn more about the Wyoming Valley’s regional approach to MS4 Stormwater compliance, visit the Authority’s Stormwater webpage.
Other Innovative Approaches
In Lycoming County they have adopted their own local nutrient credit trading program to promote cost effective solutions to nutrient and sediment reduction.  York County has also taken a county-wide approach and created an Integrated Water Resources Plan to comply with not only MS4 Stormwater requirements, but to comply with all Chesapeake Bay and local TMDL impaired stream nutrient and sediment reductions.
The City of Lancaster established a Green Infrastructure Program to install stormwater pollution reduction measures throughout the City.  A similar green infrastructure plan is being finalized by the Capital Region Water Authority for the City of Harrisburg.
The Philadelphia Water Department’s Green City, Clean Waters Program is now into its sixth year of implementing its green infrastructure program and the City of Pittsburgh is now proposing its own green infrastructure program along with the 3 Rivers Wet Weather Project to promote green infrastructure on a regional basis.
What do all these approaches have in common?  Low-tech, cost-effective best management practices that work to prevent pollution from stormwater and reduce nutrients and sediment getting into our rivers and streams.
For more information on stormwater requirements, visit DEP’s Municipal Stormwater webpage.
NewsClips:

Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional Certification Training July 24-25 In Lancaster

CBLP is a new, voluntary, regional credential for professionals who design, install, and maintain sustainable landscapes in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  
CBLP offers two levels of training and certification:
-- Level 1 is a baseline certification in design, installation, and maintenance of sustainable landscapes, with emphasis on how to properly maintain stormwater best management practices (BMPs).  Click Here to register.
-- Level 2 is an advanced credential in design or installation, focusing on stormwater BMPs
Level 1 training consists of one two-day class that combines classroom learning about conservation landscaping and stormwater best management practices, with a field-based maintenance practicum.
CBLP’s active learning program focuses on critical thinking, problem solving, and collaborative practice.
Candidates also receive unlimited access to CBLP’s online webinar series on sustainable landscaping topics, and may participate in a live exam preparation webinar.
Level 1 Certification
The Level 1 package, which includes training and exam, administered by CBLP, is $425.  Click Here for more information and to register for Level 1 training.
Candidates for Level 1 must have a degree, certificate, or certification in a related field, or have professional experience in landscape design, installation, or maintenance. In order to qualify for Level 2, professionals must complete Level 1 and demonstrate experience designing or installing stormwater BMPs.
Level 1 certification exams will be given in several locations, August 2017-January 2018.
A Level 2 seminar will be held November 9-11, 2017, in Arlington, VA. Registration will open this summer.
Click Here for a searchable, online directory of over 100 CBLP landscape professionals certified during the pilot program is available at http://cblpro.org/directory/
For more information on the full program, visit the Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional webpage or contact Beth Ginter, CBLP Coordinator, by sending email to: beth@chesapeakelandscape.org.

PennDOT Announces PA’s First Nationally Designated Bike Route - Route 50

The Department of Transportation Wednesday announced the designation of Pennsylvania’s first nationally designated bicycle route - U.S. Bicycle Route 50.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials officially approved the route in May making Pennsylvania the 25th state to join the developing U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS).
“We are very proud to have, along with our partners, developed more than 160 miles of trails and roadway for U.S. Bicycle Route 50,” said Leslie S. Richards, Department of Transportation Secretary. “We expect the designation of U.S. Bicycle Route 50 to result in significant transportation, health, and economic benefits to the region.”
The 163-mile route mostly follows off-road trails, including the popular Great Allegheny Passage, Montour Trail (photo), and the Panhandle Trail and connects Maryland to West Virginia through a variety of natural and agricultural landscapes, historical sites, thriving small towns, and recreational hot spots.
Cyclists can visit restored rail stations; Ohiopyle State Park, which has some of the best white water rafting on the East Coast; Point State Park in Pittsburgh; and the nearby Fort Pitt Museum.
“What an honor to have sections of the Montour Trail -- our 2017 Trail of the Year -- the Great Allegheny Passage and other trails comprising much of this first nationally designated bicycle route,” said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “Trails connect communities and destinations to each other; people to the outdoors and healthy exercise; and attract visitors who spend money. They also serve as testament to the commitment of so many incredible volunteers who help them grow.”
Additionally, Amtrak’s Capitol Limited route parallels U.S. Bicycle Route 50 between DC and Pittsburgh and offers the opportunity for cyclists to carry their bikes on or off the train at any station.
This multimodal option allows for more flexibility to plan bicycle trips without a car.
To see the placement of USBR 50 in Pennsylvania visit “Statewide Bike Routes” at PennDOT’s Ride a Bike webpage.
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Thursday PA Environment NewsClips

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

DEP Declares Air Quality Action Day Thursday For Central, Southeast PA

The Department of Environmental Protection and the Air Quality Partnership have forecast Thursday, June 22 will be a Code Orange Air Quality Action for ozone in Southwest Pennsylvania, including the Southeast counties of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia and the Central PA counties of Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Cumberland, and York.
Strong sunshine, light winds, and temperatures in the high 80s to near 90 degrees F are expected to cause ozone levels to rise into the Code ORANGE level.
Elevated ozone levels are expected to last only one day. More clouds will move in on Friday, with a cold front coming in from the Great Lakes as well as the remnants of Cindy coming northward out of the Gulf of Mexico. The clouds and rain will act to bring ozone back down to low levels.
On air quality action days, young children, the elderly and those with respiratory problems, such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis, are especially vulnerable to the effects of air pollution and should limit outdoor activities.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s standardized air quality index uses colors to report daily air quality. Green signifies good; yellow means moderate; orange represents unhealthy pollution levels for sensitive people; and red warns of unhealthy pollution levels for all.
To help keep the air healthy, residents and business are encouraged to voluntarily restrict certain pollution-producing activities by:
-- Refueling cars and trucks after dusk
-- Setting air conditioner thermostats to a higher temperature
-- Carpooling or using public transportation; and
-- Combining errands to reduce trips.
These forecasts are provided in conjunction with Air Quality Partnerships for the Delaware Valley and Susquehanna Valley.
For more information, visit DEP’s Air Quality Partnership webpage.

PA Attorney General, 13 Others Intervene In Lawsuit Against EPA On Reducing Oil & Gas Methane Emissions

Attorney General Josh Shapiro and a coalition of 13 other attorneys general Wednesday announced they have filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit against U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s actions to halt the regulation of methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases, and other harmful air pollutants.
The motion to intervene in the case – Clean Air Council v. Pruitt– is in support of a group of environmental organizations seeking to immediately stop the EPA’s unlawful stay of a climate rule, finalized in 2016, that would prevent emissions of thousands of tons of the potent greenhouse gas methane, smog-forming volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants, including benzene and formaldehyde from facilities built after September 2015.
EPA Administrator Pruitt announced in April the EPA would halt the rule currently in place, and on June 5 implemented a 90-day stay of the rule’s key leak detection and repair requirements, along with an order to reconsider aspects of the climate rule, which has been in place for nearly a year.
“Methane is one of the most dangerous greenhouse gases, and making sure this rule goes into place is one of the most effective things we can do to combat climate change,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “By filing this motion, I am following through and upholding our commitment to curb climate change. This action is good for Pennsylvania and consistent with steps the Commonwealth took last year to monitor these emissions. The federal government should do the same and give the energy industry the predictability they need.”
Last year, Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled a plan to reduce methane emissions during natural gas development, production and transmission by requiring leak detection and repair measures, equipment efficiency upgrades, improved processes, implementation of best practices, and more frequent use of leak-sensing technologies.
The current EPA rule requires oil and gas companies to monitor sources of emissions at well sites and compressor stations constructed after September 2015 in order to detect air pollutant leaks and repair them at regular intervals.
According to testimony filed by scientific experts in the case, during the 90-day term of the administrative stay alone, more than 5,300 tons of methane, 1,475 tons of volatile organic compounds, and 56 tons of hazardous air pollutants will be emitted that would otherwise have been prevented had the EPA not put the brakes on the climate rule.
In addition, Administrator Pruitt and the EPA have signaled that they will seek to further stay the current emissions rule for an additional 27 months.
Methane is a powerful agent of climate change. Pound-for-pound, methane warms the climate about thirty-four times more than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
In addition to Attorney General Shapiro, the attorneys general of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington joined the motion, as well as Chicago.
For more information on Pennsylvania’s methane emissions, visit DEP’s Methane Reduction Strategy webpage.
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Senate Passes PA One Call Pipeline Safety Bill, With Shale Gas, Not Conventional Gathering Lines

The Senate Wednesday unanimously passed Senate Bill 242 (Baker-R-Luzerne) that extends the PA One Call utility safety program to 2024 and adds unconventional natural gas gathering pipelines to the program, but continues an exemption for conventional oil and gas gathering lines (8 inches or less) serving small volume stripper wells.
PA One Call is a service to contractors who want to locate utilities and natural gas pipelines prior to digging foundations or other excavations that might hit those lines and cause service interruptions or explosions and death or injuries.
There are now an estimated unmapped 100,000 miles of natural gas pipelines in Pennsylvania vulnerable to hits from construction and digging equipment.
Prime sponsor Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) noted in a background memo on the bill there are more than 6,000 incidents of striking utility lines every year, with approximately half involving natural gas lines because facility owners do not join the PA One Call program or for other reasons.
“All of these instances jeopardize public safety, place workers at risk, compromise infrastructure, trigger outages, generate environmental hazards and cost consumers, businesses, and utilities time and money,” said Sen. Baker.  “Preventing this unnecessary damage will increase public safety and reduce costs.”
At a June 6 hearing by the House Consumer Affairs Committee, representatives of the conventional oil and gas well drillers said they cannot afford the cost of reporting the locations of their natural gas pipelines to PA One Call to prevent pipeline explosions and deaths.
The bill now goes to the House, which killed the addition of gathering lines in 2016.  A Senate Fiscal Note and summary is available.
(Photo: An example of what can happen when a backhoe hits a natural gas pipeline.)
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