2017-07-13 / Letters

Ideas To Improve Water Health In Bay Watershed Counties

To The Editor:

PA Department of Environmental Protection is asking for public comments on ways to help develop a state plan to “Improve Local Water Health in Chesapeake Bay Watershed Counties” (47 Pa. B. 3154). DEP is working with federal agencies to develop the state’s Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) for the Chesapeake Bay. PA is mandated by the EPA to reduce nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment levels in waterways in the Chesapeake Bay watershed counties by 2025. Pennsylvania has not met the EPA’s requirements to reduce water pollution under federal regulations. They must do so or be penalized. If you have comments/suggestions on this, email them to ecomment@pa.gov. The following suggestions were passed on to them:

All pollution from animal waste compost and manure sites that flow or spill into any waterways will negatively affect the Chesapeake Bay eventually. The state Dept. of Environmental Services should inspect from time to time these sites to ensure there is compliance with guidelines stated above. Pennsylvania needs to take a serious approach to ensuring our streams, rivers and lakes are not polluted by poor farming practices. Especially, large factory farms and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO’s). Strict guidelines must be written, adopted and enforced to ensure that these factory farms are not endangering our waterways.

A case in point: in Fulton County, a proposed CAFO is being planned to be built in an area where springs are present and a beautiful trout stream, Big Cove Creek (BCC) flows only several hundred yards below the proposed site of the CAFO. If a spill would occur, and historically CAFOs have, the creek would be polluted and could wipe out and destroy an excellent cold water fishery. This would result in huge fish kills and aquatic insect life destruction, causing grave damage to this outstanding fishery. This would also adversely affect the economic value of the local area. Many trout fishermen from nearby Maryland and West Virginia travel long distances to fish this jewel of a stream. This kind of pollution will over time affect the water quality of other streams and the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Interesting, there are no other streams or springs outside our county that provide any water supply. All of our water comes from within the county. So basically, in our county we have clean water generating from the many mountain streams and underground springs. The only way it could be polluted is by having large factory farms doing so. These CAFO type farms are and will have an adverse affect on the Chesapeake Bay, however, no one can estimate how bad it is or would be if allowed to continue. It doesn’t make sense for the state to spend millions of dollars on CREP programs to ensure chemicals are not sprayed too close to streams or springs. However, it seems to look the other way when approving permits for these large CAFOs that make our waterways much more vulnerable to pollution. This problem needs to be addressed.

New guidelines must be adopted to ensure any type of agriculture buildings where all kinds of animals/livestock, fowl species are housed or contained (to include large corporate factory farms) planned to be built (temporary or permanent) cannot be located closer than a half mile from a creek, stream, river or spring. These proposed building sites should be assessed, carefully examined and inspected to ensure they meet these guidelines before any building permits are issued.

Riparian buffer locations and distances should be reviewed and changed as necessary, and extended to a minimum of 300 feet from any water source where chemicals and pesticides are being or are to be sprayed.

Spreading of manure should be at a safe distance from streams or springs.

Rules for a safe distance should be documented and enforced to stop pollution.

Criteria for manure spreading in the winter should be strictly enforced. Spreading over snow or ice should not be tolerated. As of now there are no controls or oversight inspections of fields and areas being spread in the winter months.

Pennsylvania must take serious and immediate action (change laws/issue strict guidelines, enforce existing ones) to prevent these kinds of potential pollution events from happening. As responsible citizens of Fulton County, we must all get involved to ensure that the futures of our children and grandchildren are protected. We need to fight to provide clean water, air and maintain our property values for future generations.

Dave and Mona Lippert
Big Cove Tannery

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