Development uses nutrient credit trading to protect water quality

Under a permit issued by the Department of Environmental Protection, a planned resort community in Ararat Township, Susquehanna County, will reduce pollution to the Chesapeake Bay by using the state's innovative nutrient credit trading program. The Preserve at Dunn Lake becomes the first new development project in northeastern Pennsylvania to use the cost-effective alternative. The resort will include 37 vacation home sites and a 30-room inn with a restaurant and banquet facilities...

• Cost-effective alternative puts resort community in compliance with federal government's Chesapeake Bay cleanup goals

WILKES-BARRE, PA, Jan. 11, 2008 -- Under a permit issued today by the Department of Environmental Protection, a planned resort community in Ararat Township, Susquehanna County, will reduce pollution to the Chesapeake Bay by using the state's innovative nutrient credit trading program.

The Preserve at Dunn Lake becomes the first new development project in northeastern Pennsylvania to use the cost-effective alternative.

"After thoroughly evaluating the factors associated with this National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, the developers chose to apply for it using a cost-effective alternative to reducing pollution runoff," said DEP Northeast Regional Director Michael Bedrin.

Bedrin explained that the developer was required to evaluate non-discharge alternatives, conduct a social-economic justification analysis for the project, and use the department's water quality anti-degradation regulations as part of its application and decision to participate in the nutrient credit trading program. The requirements were also necessary given discharges from the development will be to a high quality cold water fishery.

The Preserve at Dunn Lake will include 37 vacation home sites and a 30-room inn with a restaurant and banquet facilities. DEP granted planning approval for the project in July 2006.

The permit allows the resort community to discharge 19,000 gallons of treated sewage per day to the East Branch of the Lackawanna River.

Most of the Chesapeake Bay, and many of its tributaries, have been listed as impaired by the federal Clean Water Act. As part of a multi-state effort to restore the bay's health, new requirements water quality standards for nutrients and sediment pollution were enacted.

This state's nutrient reduction plan includes efforts to minimize impacts from point sources, like sewage treatment plants, as well as non-point sources, such as agricultural runoff.

The credits that are traded in the program can be purchased by developers, which allows them to have a certain amount of nutrients in their discharge equivalent to what has been purchased and removed elsewhere in the watershed.

For this project, the developer entered into a contract with the Red Barn Trading Company, a Lancaster firm that represents farmers who agree to remove manure from their fields and ship it to areas outside of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The manure would be used as a soil conditioner in nutrient deficient areas outside of the watershed.

The draft permit was published for comment in the Pennsylvania Bulletin in February 2007. One comment was submitted with concerns about the temperature of the discharge having an adverse impact on the receiving stream. DEP re-evaluated the permit and established temperature limits in August redraft of the permit.

"The nutrient trading concept has shown itself to be successful in reducing overall levels of nitrogen and phosphorus," said Bedrin. "Rather than depending on expensive capital upgrades to the project, nutrient trading provides a practical and cost-effective means of reaching our state's federally mandated water quality goals."

For more information: http://www.depweb.state.pa.us/, keyword: Water quality.

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