Public-Nonprofit Partnership Will Save County Time and Money
York County, PA – The Chesapeake Conservancy recently partnered with the York County Stormwater Consortium to create a customized,web-based tool to streamline and standardize the data, calculations, and formatting of stormwater project reports that are submitted by the 44 participating municipalities, including the County, each year. The tool will allow the Consortium to identify, compare, and prioritize the most cost-efficient projects to help achieve water quality goals, and save time during the review process.
The York County Stormwater Consortium is a coalition of York County municipalities that work cooperatively to address the municipalities’ responsibilities to clean up impaired waters. Through reductions in nutrient and sediment pollutants, water quality in local waters and the Chesapeake Bay will be improved. The staff of the York County Planning Commission serve as the Administrative Team for the Consortium.
The tool, called the York County Stormwater Consortium Best Management Practices (BMP) Reporting Tool, was rolled out in June 2016 as the required process for municipalities to report progress toward meeting their Chesapeake Bay Pollutant Reduction Plan program goals. This year, reports on more than 70 stormwater projects were submitted through the tool.
“The first reporting cycle using the Chesapeake Conservancy’s web-based tool increased the efficiency of the reporting process. Reports were submitted more timely and the data could easily be downloaded into an excel spreadsheet for analysis and PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) reporting purposes,” York County Planning Commission Chief of Long Range Planning Pam Shellenberger said. “The land cover analysis and estimated pollutant reductions will help the Consortium focus on implementing projects that reduce the most pollutants for the least amount of cost to clean up York County waters and the Chesapeake Bay.”
“The Chesapeake Conservancy’s web-based tool is the kind of creativity and innovation that will help local governments plan and implement stormwater BMPs to restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay and local waters,” Nicholas DiPasquale, Chesapeake Bay Program Director, EPA said. “By working smarter, we can work more effectively. Other communities could benefit greatly from using this type of tool to meet their stormwater management requirements.”
“This tool provides local communities with the resources to make the best decisions based on the best available data combined with local knowledge and expertise to identify the most efficient and effective projects. This is a classic example of what we call ‘precision conservation,’ bringing the right practices, the right skills, at the right place and at the right time,” Chesapeake Conservancy President and CEO Joel Dunn said. “The partners can identify at a county-scale where the priorities are, and guide future Chesapeake Bay Pollution Reduction Plans. These efficient, cost-effective investments in Pennsylvania are key to Chesapeake Bay restoration.” Dunn said.
To use the Chesapeake Conservancy’s tool, the user selects the project area, and the tool automatically generates the associated Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data, including a high resolution land cover analysis for all of the land area draining through the project footprint and guides the user through inputting this data into a nutrient/sediment load reduction model.
In addition to creating the tool, the Chesapeake Conservancy has also trained a select group of eight local professionals to serve as technical assistance providers. Working closely with the local community and training local users to be proficient in the tool and its use has increased local technical capacity and secured community buy-in.
The tool was created as part of the Envision the Susquehanna initiative and is a direct result of outreach and stakeholder engagement made through the initiative. This community-based conservation collaborative combines the effort of federal, state, and nonprofit partners in the Susquehanna River watershed. Through the initiative, the partners seek to improve the ecological and cultural integrity throughout the Susquehanna landscape and in so doing improve the quality of life for all citizens along the river.