Progress – Story by Story

by Amanda Pruzinsky

Our EPA region does a lot of work with partners to improve water quality.  We’re capturing examples of those actions in an online series.

The stories illustrate how EPA – working with states, cities, utilities, non-profit groups and businesses – helps people and communities throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.

The stories are available through an interactive map with the content and location of each story.  You can click on an individual water droplet for a story happening in a particular area.  Or you can access all of the stories we have to date for a given state.

In the series, you’ll find a story about an EPA-funded project in West Virginia to resolve conditions caused by failing or non-existent septic systems.  While you’re on that page, learn about the rebirth of the Cheat River, a haven for outdoors enthusiasts and those who enjoy fishing.

Among other stories, you can check out the recovery of a river scarred by acid mine drainage in Pennsylvania, a recycled water project in Virginia, an urban farm in the District of Columbia, and a 60 percent reduction in contaminants in Delaware’s Mirror Lake.

The stories showcase the variety of ways EPA is making a difference – from improvements to the Chesapeake Bay through wastewater treatment plant upgrades to green street initiatives that reduce stormwater and transform communities.

Take some time to browse the map and check back for the latest updates.

 

About the Author: Amanda Pruzinsky is a physical scientist for the Water Protection Division in EPA’s mid-Atlantic region working to support all of the water programs with a focus on data management, analysis, and communication.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

A Scent of Spring Awaits

by Jeff Lapp

Sarracenia flava

Preparations are almost complete for the 2017 Philadelphia Flower Show, March 11-19!

Whether the show team at EPA is ready or not, the time for set-up is once again upon us.  The official day to begin construction of our display is March 6, however, plants have been forced for weeks and the show design and construction is nearing the end.

The theme for this year’s show is Holland and celebrating the multitude of contributions which that country has given to the horticultural industry.  EPA’s display, “America: Land of Flowers” will focus on the wonderful palette of native flora which thrive right here in our own backyards.  Many of these were exported abroad and returned to us with bigger and brighter flowers, but underneath they are still ancestors of the region’s rich diversity of native plants.

The weather in the past week or so has whetted our appetites for spring.  The Philadelphia Flower Show will cure our need for flowers and the scent of a season quickly knocking on our door step.

If you are in the area, please stop by the EPA display at the show and share in our celebration of native species, the unique habitats they create, the water savings and runoff protection they provide, and the important ecological role they fill.

 

About the author: Jeff Lapp is a Wetlands Scientist who has been working in the Mid-Atlantic region since 1989 and has been designing and forcing for the show since 1991.  He is an avid botanist and grows many native plants, specializing in our native pitcher plants, at his home in Bucks County.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Day of Service Along the Delaware River

by Tom Damm

Signing up for the clean up

Signing up for the cleanup

Actions of all sizes are helping to restore the Delaware River and its surrounding areas.

There are broad steps, like the recently approved Delaware River Basin Conservation Act that will help coordinate and advance protection activities.

And there are more focused ones, like this week’s trash cleanup at the Bristol Marsh in Bristol Borough, Pennsylvania.

On Monday morning – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service – a dozen EPA employees, plus family and friends joined other volunteers, mainly high school and middle school students, to spruce up this critical resource along the main stem of the Delaware River.

With trash bags in hand, the nearly 90 volunteers – almost double the expected number – combed the marsh for discarded items.

Small sample of the junk pulled from the marsh

Small sample of the junk pulled from the marsh

Along with the commonplace bottles, cans and paper litter, we had some unusual finds: a buoy, a One Way sign, flip flops, even a bedframe, unearthed as if it were an archeological discovery.

The effort to give the marsh a clean slate, organized by the Nature Conservancy and the Heritage Conservancy, was well worth it considering all the marsh returns for the favor.

The freshwater tidal marsh, a wetland rarely found in Pennsylvania, supports a wide variety of plants, birds and animals.  It also provides spawning and nursery areas for fish and improves water quality by filtering pollutants and adding oxygen.

The marsh promotes recreational activities like bird watching, nature study and fishing and protects the riverfront from the impacts of flooding and stormwater pollution while trapping trash that floats in from the Delaware.

Hauling out a tire

Hauling out a tire

A range of efforts – some that will take many years, others just a few hours on a holiday morning – are making a difference for the Delaware and its 13,600-square-foot basin that provides drinking water for more than 15 million people and contributes billions of dollars to the regional economy.

From major new initiatives to the removal of societal junk from Bristol Marsh, many hands are at work in the cleanup.

 

About the Author: Tom Damm has been with EPA since 2002 and now serves as communications coordinator for the region’s Water Protection Division.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Safer Choice is a Great Choice for Clean Water

by Krsafe choice logoistian Blessington

Growing up in Florida, surrounded by water, I’ve always enjoyed the many recreational opportunities on its lakes, rivers, springs, and beaches. Spending so much time in such beautiful and pristine surroundings instilled in me an appreciation for the natural environment, as well as a sense of its fragility and need for its preservation.

These feelings persist, perhaps even more strongly, since I’ve joined EPA and now pursue my love of outdoor activities in the Mid-Atlantic. They inspire my work with the Safer Choice program, and our efforts to prevent pollution of our nation’s water bodies through the promotion of sustainable products.

Safer Choice is EPA’s label for cleaning and other products made with safer chemical ingredients. Leveraging our Agency’s more than 40 years of experience assessing the human and environmental safety of chemicals, more than 2,000 products we all use every day qualify to carry the Safer Choice label, such as multi-purpose cleaners, hand soaps, car and boat care products, floor cleaners, pet care products, and many more. Safer Choice-labeled products contain ingredients that are safer for aquatic life and the environment and for your family, community, and pets.

To be eligible for the label, a product must meet the Safer Choice Standard, which is green chemistry-focused and grounded in stringent human health and environmental criteria.  Safer Choice evaluates all intentionally added ingredients in a product, regardless of percentage. That means Safer Choice-labeled products contain only the safest possible ingredients, while still meeting performance requirements.  Importantly, for products intended for use outdoors (bypassing the drain and sewage treatment, directly entering the environment), such as car and boat cleaners, Safer Choice has a higher bar to provide aquatic life with an extra margin of protection.

And there’s even more good news for our waterways. Labeled products are made with ingredients that, once they enter the local watershed, will break down more quickly through natural processes. The result: less pollution in streams, less contamination of the food chain, reduced impacts on water treatment facilities compared to conventional products, and less damage to the ecosystem.  This is something anglers, boaters, and beach-goes will appreciate.

For more information on the U.S. EPA Safer Choice Program and to find Safer Choice-labeled products.

 

About the Author: Kristian has been with EPA since 2016. He works in the Safer Choice program on outreach and program support initiatives. He previously worked with state and local governments in Florida on community health assessments and health education initiatives. He lives in DC, and is an avid hiker and outdoor enthusiast.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Leaving a Clean Water Legacy

by Tom Damm

Jon Capacasa

Jon Capacasa

As you approached Jon Capacasa’s office, the first thing you noticed were the articles, notes and other tidbits of progress and encouragement taped to his door, centered with the words, “Celebrate! Celebrate!”

During Jon’s more than 42-year career at EPA, including the past 13 years as director of the Mid-Atlantic Region’s Water Protection Division, there was much to celebrate in his commitment to clean water.

Jon retired this week having served as a leading figure in the major initiatives and innovative actions that distinguished the region in improving water resources and public health.

His biggest impact was on the Chesapeake Bay – from the time on a Sunday in 1990 when he was called at home and asked to serve as the Bay’s Special Assistant to the Regional Administrator.

From there, he helped to start the Chesapeake Bay Program Office, served for a year as its first acting director and then nine years as its deputy director, guided the planning and drafting of the Chesapeake 2000 Agreement, and had a chief role in developing and implementing the landmark Chesapeake Bay TMDL, or “pollution diet.”

Along the way, Jon issued a nutrient permitting approach that helped the wastewater sector achieve its Bay pollution goals 10 years ahead of schedule – topping the list of positive signs of Bay progress that include sharp increases in bay grasses, blue crabs and oysters, a majority of cleaner running rivers and a shrinking “dead zone.”

But Jon’s career has involved far more than the Bay.

Among his hallmark achievements, Jon co-founded the Schuylkill Action Network and helped form other key partnerships to protect source waters, established three of the top five penalty actions in Clean Water Act history, led efforts to restore streams and rivers – from the Delaware to the “forgotten” Anacostia, drove new technologies, and was a pioneer in the green infrastructure movement to control stormwater pollution and improve communities.

Jon is quick to acknowledge the team effort involved in his work, taking pride in the positive reinforcement he provides to staff to achieve incremental success and “turn great ideas into reality.”

The office items Jon packed up over the past few days are a reflection of his career as well as his approach to the job and life in general.  Among them were:

  • A framed copy of the Bay TMDL cover with a pen used to sign it.
  • Photos of his family and one of Roberto Clemente, a boyhood baseball hero, whose creativity, excellence and low-key manner served as an inspiration.
  • A host of plaques and awards.
  • An “Easy” button that was rarely pressed considering the tough decisions he was involved in on a seemingly daily basis.

As he steps away from what he called “the greatest mission in the world” to relish more time with his family and do some teaching and traveling, his legacy of clean water will continue on at EPA, as will his impact on the lives of people across the region.

 

About the Author: Tom Damm has been with EPA since 2002 and now serves as communications coordinator for the region’s Water Protection Division.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.