Pennsylvania is in the process of finding ways to comply with Chesapeake water quality rules without harming farmers.
Pennsylvania Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Williamsport, called a Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee meeting to hold “a briefing” on the Chesapeake Bay.
According to Yaw, state lawmakers are as focused on water quality as they’ve ever been in his 11 years in Harrisburg, reported the Daily American.
“It’s not all about Chesapeake Bay, it’s about clean water,” said Yaw. “As a practical matter, if we have clean water in Pennsylvania, we don’t have to worry about the bay.”
Pennsylvania is currently not meeting federal EPA standards for reducing nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment in waterways, according to the Daily American. As a result of this, 10% of the state’s farms in the watershed area are being monitored to determine how best to contain erosion and handle manure.
David Graybill, a dairy farmer and Pennsylvania Farm Bureau board member, told the committee that farmers will continue to do what they can to protect the water that helps their fields grow, reported the Daily American. This includes keeping livestock out of waterways and making sure fields are not overfertilized.
“The costs are still well beyond what farmers can practically afford,” said Graybill.
Other ways farmers can help ensure the water stays clean include using methane digesters that use manure and other organic waste products to generate electricity and create an odorless fertilizer, reported the Daily American.
The Farm Bureau was a proponent of Senate Bill 679, sponsored by Yaw, which would give counties the ability to create stream cleaning initiatives. The group is also working with state Sen. Lisa Baker to address storm water fees.