Oct 19, 2021

Center for Water Quality Excellence Offers Program for Cost-Effective Storm Water Practices

The CWQE is a pilot program operating in Pennsylvania's Lancaster and York counties in 2021 to 2022.

Pennsylvania water

A new resource is available for Lancaster and York County, Pennsylvania, landowners who are seeking solutions for their storm water management problems.

The Center for Water Quality Excellence is offering a program with no-cost service that is funded by PennVest, the state’s infrastructure investment authority. The center is designed to help farmers, municipalities and businesses understand cost-effective storm water practices and implementation.

The CWQE is a pilot program operating in Lancaster and York counties in 2021 to 2022.

“Pennsylvania’s Center for Water Quality Excellence can help you make sense of the grant, loan, and public-private partnership programs that support agricultural conservation and urban storm water practices in Pennsylvania,” according to the CWQE website.

“Our job was to unravel all of this and simplify it,” said Sally Holbert, the center’s manager, reported Lancaster Farming News. “I don’t want to call it a one-stop shop. We’re certainly not that. We help connect the dots, listen to your needs and be responsive.”

The center provides storm water coaches who explain the financing opportunities that are available. Both in-person and online resources are provided as well. According to CWQE, as storm water coaches, the staff will help assess current needs and provide guidance on selecting appropriate funding vehicles. 

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“We will coach you on the ins and outs of schedules, program restrictions, application processes, and administrative responsibilities,” said CWQE on its website. “We will share creative finance solutions and collaborations that blend public and private sector resources to help move your project from planned to implemented.”

The center’s goal is to accelerate the implementation of storm water and farm conservation efforts to reduce runoff that adds nutrients and sediment to streams and rivers, reported Lancaster Farming News

One tool available is called Farm-A-Syst, a self-evaluation program that allows farmers to assess their water resource protection. Digital worksheets ask about tillage, erosion, pesticide storage and provided as well. Landowners receive a digital record of their answers and gain an understanding of how the conditions on their property affect water resources.

“It can be used as a self-assessment,” Holbert said, reported CWQE. “The owner of a property can walk around and do it themselves. It asks a series of questions. Then it gives you a ranking from 0-4. Closer to 4 means you’re doing a really good job.”

Another option is to have an ag specialist walk the land and make suggestions.

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