York County Takes on Polluted
This is a pivotal moment in time. Awareness of the importance of clean streams and
rivers, and their connection to the larger
Chesapeake Bay ecosystem, is growing.
In York County, Pennsylvania, the momentum is gaining speed not just with a few
individuals, but collectively as a county.
Presented with a challenge—or an opportunity, depending upon how you look at it—
the York County Planning Commission took
on the role of educator, facilitator, and
The planning commission developed a
countywide pollution-reduction strategy to
meet the Commonwealth’s goals. The York
plan identifies the most cost-effective pollution-reduction practices to achieve clean-water goals and restore streams.
Felicia Dell, Director of the Planning
Commission, makes it a simple sell, “Local
officials had an awareness of Bay impairment, but largely saw it as ‘the Bay’s issue.’
But through this process, and a concerted
educational effort, we are changing that
mindset. While a few years ago officials may
have rated a two on a scale of one-to- 10 in
terms of awareness and understanding—
today, I would say they rate it a seven in
terms of understanding the impacts and
things they can do to help locally and in the
Bay; and even higher, a 10 in terms of their
willingness to collaborate and do something
The next step toward getting the job done is
where the rubber meets the road.
One very important pollution source is the
only major source that continues to increase:
polluted urban and suburban runoff.
For township managers, it can be difficult to
maintain and update the infrastructure
needed to transport polluted runoff—things
like storm drains, pipes, ditches, and retention ponds.
York County has developed
a cooperative plan to reduce
pollution, restore streams,
and save everyone money.
CBF is lending a hand to York County and
other communities, through both private
funding and through a generous grant from
the William Penn Foundation, by providing
technical assistance for water-quality
improvement efforts. And, CBF is hosting a
series of workshops designed to assist local
officials. The workshops will begin in
uFor more information about local workshops,
or to see what else is happening in Pennsylvania,
Runoff from city streets, suburban parking lots, and even from our rooftops, carries untreated
pollution into local rivers and streams. Polluted urban and suburban runoff is the only major source
of pollution increasing throughout the watershed.