Pennsylvania not meeting all targets in Chesapeake Bay cleanup

    Lisa Graybeal is a third generation dairy farmer in Lancaster County. (Marie Cusick/ StateImpact Pennsylvania)

    Lisa Graybeal is a third generation dairy farmer in Lancaster County. (Marie Cusick/ StateImpact Pennsylvania)

    Pennsylvania is not meeting all of its goals to reduce nutrient runoff into the Chesapeake Bay, according to a recently released Environmental Protection Agency evaluation of year five of the effort.

    Pennsylvania is one of six states, along with Washington D.C., tasked with lowering upstream pollution from agriculture, urban sources, and wastewater runoff.  Last year, the state met its target for phosphorous, but not for reducing nitrogen and sediment.

    The state has unique challenges, including a lot of farmland and many municipalities to coordinate,  said Harry Campbell, executive director of the Pennsylvania office of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

    “Within individual municipalities, you’re going to have individual approaches, individual ways of dealing with things,” Campbell said. “As opposed to, say, for instance, a more county-scale approach that our brethren down in Maryland and Virginia and elsewhere are utilizing to address some of these issues.”

    The largest pollutants are agricultural — there are 33,000 farms in the state — and urban centers.      

    Pennsylvania has made progress in reducing pollution from wastewater, where technology can often offer solutions.

    Recognizing its shortcoming, the state issued a “reboot” of its Chesapeake pollution-reduction plan in January. The new plan cited budgetary and staffing shortages and looked to engage with other stakeholders — including the Department of Agriculture — to meet goals. 

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