SALEM, Ohio – A unique watershed improvement project is creating partners in Pennsylvania, Ohio and the federal government.
The Trumbull County (Ohio) Soil and Water Conservation District initiated the project by applying for and receiving a $60,400 grant under the federal Clean Water Act, section 319. The conservation districts also provided $43,000 in local matching funds.
“We were looking for a way to make comprehensive improvements to the watershed, which includes the Shenango River system, Pymatuning Creek and Pymatuning Lake,” said Troy Smith, Trumbull SWCD water quality specialist.
“This is a watershed with a wide variety of pollution sources. Agricultural runoff is a problem where the streams wander through farmland, while urban storm water carries pollutants to streams in developed areas.”
The SWCD hired the consulting firm Davey Resource Group of Kent, Ohio, to prepare a Watershed Action Plan. Davey has already collected existing information from Pennsylvania and Ohio and will soon begin stream sampling in both states to determine the current water quality within the watershed.
Davey will compile the new and existing information into a 10-year Water Action Plan that will be unveiled next October. The plan will address issues that include water pollution, sustainable land use, farmland preservation, wetlands, and streamside riparian zones.
In the meantime, the SWCD will work with individual counties to schedule a series of public forums in each county in the watershed.
“Citizens in all five counties need to be part of the watershed planning and implementation process,” Smith said. “Local people need to attend these forums to identify local issues and problems.”
The first forum was scheduled to be held Jan. 10 at the Brookfield Administration Building.
A second public meeting is Jan. 24, 7 p.m., at St. Phillip Social Hall in Linesville (Crawford County, Pa.)
“This is a locally driven project to sustain and improve a watershed that does not recognize political boundaries and jurisdictional territories,” said Pa. Department of Environmental Protection Watershed Coordinator John Holden.
It involves two regions of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), two states and local conservation districts representing five counties, three of them in Pennsylvania. “The project’s success depends on interagency teamwork,” Holden said.
“We are following this project very closely,” he added. “There are other watersheds in the Commonwealth that cross state boundaries. This could serve as a model for similar situations.”