Region 9, WVDEP joining to reduce water pollution
March 29, 2011 - By John McVey, Journal staff writer
BERKELEY SPRINGS - Local and state officials are preparing to launch the second phase of the Chesapeake Bay restoration program in West Virginia.
The Eastern Panhandle Regional Planning and Development Council (Region 9) and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection are partnering with several public- and private-sector groups to implement Phase II of the Watershed Improvement Plan, or WIP, for the Chesapeake Bay.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has imposed very strict pollution limits on states within the bay watershed. West Virginia's greater, eight-county Eastern Panhandle is in the Potomac River watershed, and the Potomac River is one of the bay's major tributaries.
States must make drastic reductions in the amount of nutrients, that is nitrogen and phosphorus, and sediment that gets into the bay by way of its tributaries.
Phase I of the WVDEP's improvement plan was submitted in November, and the EPA's final report was issued at the end of December. Now, the improvement plans must be implemented on the local level.
Members of Region 9 were updated on the project at the council's meeting Monday in Berkeley Springs.
WVDEP has received a $30,000 EPA grant to undertake Phase II, said Alana Hartman, WVDEP Potomac Basin coordinator.
The grant is being matched by Region 9 with $10,000 in cash and $20,000 in administrative duties, said Carol Goolsby, Region 9 executive director.
Delta Development Group Inc. of Mechanicsburg, Pa., is facilitating the project.
The Region 9 project will focus on three areas in which to implement strategies to reduce pollution in the local Potomac River watershed, Troy Truax, Delta vice president, explained Monday.
Work groups will be formed to reduce pollution from wastewater treatment facilities and pollution from stormwater runoff from developed lands and industrial sites, he said.
Also, a third working group that was recommended by Truax and Delta, consisting of elected officials from Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties as well as local municipalities, will be formed to establish "policy and legislative decisions necessary for achieving many of the WIP's ... objectives," according to the project's work statement.
In addition to implementing the WIP, the groups will be asked to focus on a strategy for a "qualitative evaluation of a nutrient credit trading system between non-point (for example, farms) and point (for example, wastewater treatment plants) to offset the costs of physical plant upgrades through the use of credits," according to the work statement.
Work groups for agriculture and forestry sectors will be formed by WVDEP and EPA's technical assistance consultant, TetraTech, officials said.
Truax said that kick-off meetings will be held in late April or early May for the three work groups under Region 9's project.
Each group will meet at least three times over the next few months, and the project will culminate with a day-long Chesapeake Bay summit, drawing all the work groups together for an open discussion of the issues, concerns and strategies, Truax added.
The Phase II draft plan must be submitted to EPA by June 1, and the final plan must be submitted by Nov. 1, officials said.