Goal for year includes effort toward government, shareholder involvement
February 25, 2011 - By John McVey, Journal staff writer
MARTINSBURG - Phase II of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection's watershed implementation plan got started Thursday at the Berkeley County Council meeting.
"Phase II is all about how and where and by whom - it's all about local involvement," Alana Hartman, Potomac Basin coordinator for the WVDEP, said after the meeting.
The watershed implementation plan, or WIP, was developed by the WVDEP and other state agencies as well as outside organizations at the order of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the Chesapeake Bay Restoration program.
Because of a 2009 presidential executive order, the EPA issued strict limits on the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment that can get into the bay through its tributaries.
The Potomac River is one of the bay's major tributaries, and the greater eight-county Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, which includes Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties, is in the Potomac watershed area.
West Virginia's Phase I WIP final draft was submitted to the EPA at the end of November. It outlines how West Virginia is going to meet the new pollution limits issued by the EPA.
The EPA issued its WIP evaluations and pollution-control mandates in December.
Phase II is suppose to bring the implementation plan to the local level, involving county and municipal governments as well as local agencies and organizations, Hartman said.
She and Jennifer Garlesky, conservation specialist with the West Virginia Conservation Agency for the Eastern Panhandle Conservation District, will make similar presentations to county and municipal governments throughout the tri-county over the next few weeks.
"We'll have stakeholder meetings that include local government officials," Hartman told Berkeley County Council members. "We'll be looking to get input on opportunities and gaps in technology and funding."
Delta Development Group Inc., a consulting firm based in Mechanicsburg, Pa., will facilitate the meetings, she said.
"We want to see what the local government options are to achieve the goals in the WIP," Hartman said. "We would want (the Berkeley County Council) to look at a couple of sub-watersheds to consider if those land-use models meet the Chesapeake Bay requirements."
She said after the meeting that Berkeley County's lack of land-use planning presents a challenge to meeting the new, strict pollution limits.
"Anything counties can institutionalize would look great in the Phase II WIP," Hartman said. "Without land-use management, without planning, all the work could be negated. What worries me is future use."
Municipalities in the tri-county and Jefferson County have zoning regulations.
Stakeholder meetings will probably be held in late April or early May, she said, with day-long summits in July.
The EPA wants the Phase II draft by June 1, Hartman said, but West Virginia and the other bay states are requesting more time to develop that document. The final Phase II draft is scheduled to be done by Nov. 1.
- Staff writer John McVey can be reached at 304-263-3381, ext. 128, or firstname.lastname@example.org