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Pennsylvania Funds 124 Stormwater and Clean Water Projects

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania, March 10, 2008 (ENS) – The state of Pennsylvania is making a $22.3 million investment in 124 projects that will help restore the state’s polluted streams, provide clean water, and help prevent floods in communities across the commonwealth

Announcing the grants on Friday, Governor Edward Rendell said Pennsylvania’s long mining history and extensive farm industry have created challenges that affect the state’s natural water resources.

Additionally, regular floods throughout the state have diminished the effectiveness of natural and man-made measures designed to protect people, businesses and communities.

“Pennsylvania has been blessed with incredible natural resources,” said Governor Rendell. “Unfortunately our streams have been tainted by agricultural run-off and acid mine drainage from the unregulated activity of the past. Furthermore, recurring floods in many places have eroded stream banks and rendered many flood measures ineffective, which can exacerbate the damage caused to our communities.

“The $22.3 million in grants we’re announcing today will help undo this damage with effective treatment systems, agricultural best management practices, stabilization work, stormwater management strategies, and flood protection projects. Together, these measures will help restore the health and natural functions of our streams,” the governor said.

The Berks County Conservation Association is receiving $171,660 to install innovative stormwater management techniques on the county agricultural campus to improve water quality and for educational purposes.

Warrington Township in Bucks County was awarded $100,000 to install stormwater best management practices, including rain gardens, rain barrels, retrofitting basins, and to provide public education and outreach in the Little Neshaminy Creek watershed.

In Delaware County, Villanova University is receiving $185,000 for stormwater wetland best management practice reconfiguration and the town of Swarthmore gets $21,759 to address stormwater management at a playground and pocket park in an urban area.

In Lancaster County, the town of Columbia was awarded $325,000 to implement a variety of stormwater best management practices, including porous asphalt and concrete surfaces, vegetated swales, and rain gardens, at the new Riverfront Park.

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society receives $250,000 to continue the TreeVitalize Watersheds program that restores tree cover in Southeastern Pennsylvania, including riparian buffers and plantings in stormwater detention basins.

Of the $22.3 million awarded today by the Department of Environmental Protection, $9 million comes from the Growing Greener program in the form of watershed grants and $10.1 million comes from the Growing Greener II initiative.

The remaining $3.2 million was awarded by DEP in nonpoint source implementation program grants, which are funded by the federal government through Section 319(h) of the Clean Water Act.

The grants support acid mine drainage treatment facilities, stream bank stabilization efforts to reduce erosion and protect against flooding, added riparian buffers to filter pollutants before reaching streams, aquatic habitat improvements, and comprehensive watershed protection planning.

The grants will also be used to implement innovative agricultural and stormwater management techniques that reduce nonpoint source pollution in streams.

This year, DEP is allocating up to $2 million to begin addressing the unmet operation and maintenance costs of acid mine drainage remediation projects.

The grant funds also will support the first Watershed Renaissance Initiative, awarding $381,000 to treat acid mind discharges in Indiana County’s Bear Run watershed. The new initiative is intended to fund the complete or substantial implementation of an existing watershed restoration plan by encouraging public-private partnerships, long-term coordinated stewardship of the water resources, and educational outreach to promote environmental protection.

Since 1999, DEP has invested more than $190 million in watershed grants for 1,657 projects in all 67 counties of Pennsylvania through the traditional Growing Greener program. The grants are used to create or restore wetlands, restore stream buffer zones, eliminate causes of nonpoint source pollution, plug oil and gas wells, reclaim abandoned mine lands and restore aquatic life to streams that were lifeless due to acid mine drainage.

Voters overwhelmingly approved the $625 million Growing Greener II initiative in May 2005 to clean up rivers and streams; protect natural areas, open spaces and working farms; and shore up key programs to improve quality of life and revitalize communities across the commonwealth. Since then, DEP has awarded $38.5 million for watershed projects.

Smaller, impaired watersheds that have existing comprehensive plans to restore water quality are targeted through the Watershed Renaissance Initiative, which will again be available in next year’s grant round.

DEP is now accepting grant applications for the next Growing Greener grant round. Applications will be accepted until May 16. For more information or to download a grant application form, visit www.depweb.state.pa.us, keyword: Growing Greener.

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