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Pennsylvania Governor Rendell Announces Agreement to Halve Phosphorus in Lawn Fertilizer as Part of Chesapeake Bay Restoration Effort

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2006-09-26 00:15:10     
Pennsylvania Office of the Governor

Governor Edward G. Rendell today announced that Pennsylvania and its partners in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed are working to cut in half the amount of phosphorus used in lawn care products throughout the 64,000-square-mile basin by 2009.

"These reductions will help to further reduce the amount of nutrients flowing into the bay and accelerate restoration of the nation's largest estuary," Governor Rendell said. "Pennsylvania and its partners in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed remain committed to finding new and better ways to protect and preserve this priceless natural resource."

The Healthy Lawns and Clean Water Initiative was signed Friday during a meeting of the Chesapeake Bay Executive Council in Maryland. The council was established in 1983 to coordinate restoration efforts undertaken by Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, the District of Columbia, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Chesapeake Bay Commission.

The executive council partnered with the Lawn Care Product Manufacturing Industry on the initiative, which achieves a 50 percent voluntary reduction in pounds of phosphorus applied in lawn care products in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed by 2009. Phosphorus runoff from lawns and other surfaces where applications occur contributes to pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.

The agreement accompanied announcements by Lebanon-based Lebanon Seaboard Corp. and a second company, Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. of Marysville, Ohio, stating they would start reducing phosphorus in their products this fall. The low-phosphorus products could be on store shelves as early as this spring.

Executive council members also agreed to develop a second initiative to address nitrogen in fertilizers. That agreement will be taken up at the executive council's 2007 meeting. A similar dialogue was recommended for 2008 to reduce pesticide loadings to the bay.

Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus are essential to both plants and animals. But too much leads to unwanted consequences, primarily algae blooms that cloud the water and rob it of oxygen critical to most forms of aquatic life.

Governor Rendell was represented at the executive council meeting by his deputy chief of staff, Roy Kienitz. The council also adopted two other significant policy directives:

-- The Forest Conservation Directive obligates the signatories to identify where forests are needed most for water quality protection and to establish individual numeric goals for forest conservation in their states and the District of Columbia. This directive marks the first time the partners have joined together to support a forestland conservation initiative. Forests act as 'sponges' by capturing rainfall, reducing runoff, maintaining the flow of streams, filtering nutrients and sediment and stabilizing soils.

-- The non-federal members of the council signed an agreement promising to support efforts to have funding included in the 2007 U.S. Farm
Bill that would give the watershed's 87,000 farms the ability to institute environmentally sound practices. The directive includes a statement recognizing the importance of technical assistance to conservation program implementation, and lists three state commitments regarding the leveraging of federal funds, the
provisioning of adequate technical assistance and the coordination of state efforts with the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Pennsylvania and other states in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed must meet federally-established requirements for nutrient and sediment reduction to remove the nation's largest estuary from the U.S. Clean Water Act's list of impaired waters by 2010. More than half of Pennsylvania is within the watershed, with the Susquehanna River, the bay's largest tributary, providing roughly half of the total freshwater flow to the bay. The Potomac River adds another 20 percent.

Governor Rendell has taken aggressive action to clean up rivers and streams, imposing mandatory discharge reductions on sewage treatment plants and other major sources, requiring tougher water quality standards for farming operations, and investing of hundreds of millions of dollars in state funds for restoration efforts.

The Governor also introduced a nutrient and sediment trading policy that offers farmers, communities and industries a tool to help them meet or exceed state and federal water quality goals. This market-based program provides incentives for entities to create credits by going beyond statutory, regulatory or voluntary obligations and goals. Trading allows these facilities to look at nutrient reduction as an environmentally creative and cost- effective way to tackle water quality issues.

The Chesapeake Bay watershed is home to more than 16 million people living in parts of Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. Since 1983, the Chesapeake Bay Program has coordinated the restoration of the Bay and its watershed.

The Rendell Administration is committed to creating a first-rate public education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing economic investment to support our communities and businesses.

URL: http://www.depweb.state.pa.us
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