Lancaster

Bay Rings Out 2012 with Wave of Good News

By Tom Damm

I didn’t hear Ryan Seacrest mention the Chesapeake Bay as the ball dropped in Times Square Monday night.  But he seemed to be the only one who didn’t have something to say about the Bay as 2012 wound to a close.

Construction Underway on the Moorefield Wastewater Treatment Plant in West Virginia

Construction Underway on the Moorefield Wastewater Treatment Plant in West Virginia. At its opening, it will reduce total nitrogen loading by 90,000 pounds per year and total phosphorus by 93,000 pounds per year to the Chesapeake Bay and local waters.

In December alone, there were Bay-friendly announcements from the District of Columbia and Lancaster and Scranton in Pennsylvania, along with news from West Virginia about a treatment plant that will account for a big chunk of the state’s pollution-cutting pledge.

And it isn’t just the Bay that will benefit from these cork-popping developments.  Local rivers and streams in these communities will also run cleaner as a result.

In Scranton, the U.S. and Pennsylvania announced a settlement with the Scranton Sewer Authority on a long-term solution that will reduce millions of gallons of contaminated stormwater overflows into the Lackawanna River and local streams, all part of the Bay watershed.

In Lancaster, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and EPA announced more than $1.8 million in grants for projects to reduce water pollution and improve habitats.

In the nation’s capital, EPA, the District and DC Water signed a major partnership agreement to include green infrastructure techniques in the city’s steps to control stormwater pollution.

And in West Virginia, it was reported that when the new $40 million Moorefield Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant opens later in 2013, it will gobble up huge amounts of pollutants that are now impacting local water quality and the Bay.

Check out our Chesapeake Bay TMDL web site for more announcements about actions by partners to make the new year a good one for the network of Chesapeake Bay waterways.

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 opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Our Environment, Then and Now

By Christina Catanese

Have you ever wondered what the places around you looked like 40 years ago?  Like, how long has that building been there?  Has there always been this much trash in this river?  Did there used to be more open space in this area?  We’ve asked these questions, too.

From the Documerica Archives: “The Polluted Schuykill River and Center City In Background, September 1973.”

From the Documerica Archives: “The Polluted Schuykill River and Center City In Background, September 1973.”

That’s why EPA is reviving Documerica, a photo documentary that captured American life and environmental conditions shortly after EPA’s creation in 1970.  We’re not only bringing back the old photos, we’re giving you a chance to give it a modern twist.

In Documerica, photojournalists throughout the country photographed subjects of environmental concern, resulting in a collection of over 15,000 images that gave a snapshot of our environment in the 1970s.

Now, through a photo project called State of the Environment, you have an opportunity to get behind the lens and submit photos that document our lives and our planet today.  You can try to match pictures taken 40 years ago with a current shot to mark the changes in your environment, or submit new photos that capture our current decade.  Find out here how to participate in this challenge and submit your images through our Flickr page!

You can also check out a selection of the Documerica photos as well as some of the State of the Environment photos submitted so far in a traveling exhibit called Documerica Returns.  There are a few places you can catch the exhibit in the southeastern Pennsylvania area in the next few weeks:

  • Franklin & Marshall College, atrium of Steinman College Center, now through November 20th
  • EPA Philadelphia Regional Office Public Information Center, 1650 Arch Street, November 26th-30th
  • Amtrak’s 30th Street Station, December 3rd-14th
From the Documerica Archives: “Oil Spill On Schuykill River, July 5, 1972, Following Hurricane Agnes, Covered Greenery On River Bank, July 1972)”

From the Documerica Archives: “Oil Spill On Schuykill River, July 5, 1972, Following Hurricane Agnes, Covered Greenery On River Bank, July 1972)”

I’m most curious to see photos of our waterways, then and now.  In the Philly area, I’d love to see a match of the pictures of the Schuylkill River in this post.

What places inspire you to grab your camera and capture the state of our world today?  What did you find when you browsed the Documerica archives of photos near you 40 years ago – were there any surprises?

About the Author: Christina Catanese has worked at EPA since 2010, in the Water Protection Division’s Office of Program Support. Originally from Pittsburgh, Christina has lived in Philadelphia since attending the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied Environmental Studies, Political Science, and Hydrogeology. When not in the office, Christina enjoys performing, choreographing and teaching modern dance.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Old-Time Sentiment and Sediment in Lancaster County

Legacy Sediments accumulated to 5 meters tall

Legacy Sediments accumulated to 5 meters tall

By Bonnie Turner-Lomax

I’d encourage you to take a trip through Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County to get a sense for the area’s rich culture and old-world charm, its picturesque farms, covered bridges and quaint towns and villages.  And keep an eye out for the occasional horse and buggy.

One thing you won’t be able to spot, though, is another part of the county’s past – an environmental legacy that has played out for centuries beneath area waters.

During the late 17th through 19th centuries, it was common for communities to build dams on nearby streams to provide water power for various mills that served the communities. Sediment has been accumulating behind these now defunct but still in-place dams since they were first constructed.  Centuries of sediment accumulation (referred to as legacy sediments) have resulted in numerous environmental impacts, including:

  • changes in stream structure,
  • unnaturally high stream bank walls,
  • loss of wetlands,
  • excess sediment scouring during storms,
  • and increased loading of nutrients and sediments downstream.

This historic pollution has present impacts, and affects Lancaster county as well as other communities throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.

Recently, more than 140 environmental professionals converged at Franklin & Marshall College in the heart of Lancaster County for a workshop to deal with this age-old issue.

The group, including federal, state, and local representatives, academics and environmental consultants, held discussions, considered challenges and opportunities, and did field visits to the Big Spruce Run and Banta restoration projects to highlight potential benefits of the sediment fix to water quality and wetlands.

By meeting and establishing a communication forum to share data and information, the group is taking steps to create an environmental legacy of pristine streams, waterways, and wetlands.

Find out more about legacy sediment removal and stream restoration.

About the Author: Bonnie Turner-Lomax came to EPA Region’s mid-Atlantic Region in 1987 and has held several positions throughout the Region.  She is currently the Communications Coordinator for the Environmental Assessment & Innovation Division.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.