Watershed implementation plan progresses in PA

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• Agriculture Secretary says PA farmers making progress, working collaboratively to improve water quality

HARRISBURG, PA, Aug. 19, 2010 -- Cooperation between the state departments of Agriculture and Environmental Protection is helping to ensure Pennsylvania completes its watershed implementation plan by the federally imposed Sept. 1 deadline, according to Agriculture Secretary Russell C. Redding.

Testifying before an Aug. 18 joint legislative hearing covering agricultural conservation and the Chesapeake Bay at Penn State's Ag Progress Days in Centre County, Redding said that it is critical for any such plan to improve water quality while keeping farms viable.

"It has taken tremendous coordination and cooperation to make sure Pennsylvania is meeting the Sept. 1 deadline to submit a Water Implementation Plan to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency," Redding said. "The Department of Agriculture, DEP and the State Conservation Commission are proud that Pennsylvania producers can lay claim to 49-percent of all the nitrogen reductions made by agriculture anywhere in the multi-state watershed."

In his testimony, Redding said the two departments have engaged agricultural stakeholders, convened a water implementation plan management team and hosted a series of workgroups addressing the various sectors impacted by the total maximum daily load, or TMDL, including wastewater, agriculture and development.

The TMDL represents the total amount of nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment that can be present in the Chesapeake Bay and still meet water quality standards imposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"As new strategies, initiatives, regulations and laws are developed, it is critical that partnerships between producers and stakeholders are enhanced, and that a proper balance of non-regulatory and regulatory approaches is maintained. This is especially true as efforts are ramped up to address non-point source pollution concerns," Redding added.

For more information about Conservation in Pennsylvania, visit www.agriculture.state.pa.us, click on "Bureaus, Commissions and Councils," and select "State Conservation Commission."

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