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2013

An Update of the Pennsylvania Master Well Owner Network
December 30, 2013
Funding provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Pennsylvania Ground Water Association was used to develop and implement programs of Penn State Extension’s Master Well Owner Network (MWON) over the past year.
Recycle your Christmas Tree as You Un-Deck the Halls
December 23, 2013
As the holiday season draws to a close, you may be searching for options for how to get rid of your real Christmas tree. Luckily, there are some eco-friendly options that can reduce landfill waste, and even contribute to habitat improvement!
Water Reuse for Snow Making
December 16, 2013
Bear Creek is poised to become the third ski area in Pennsylvania, and one of only a few in the country, to use highly treated liquid effluent to make snow for use on public trails.
EPA releases "Importance of Water to the United States Economy"
December 9, 2013
EPA realeased a Synthesis Report on the Importance of Water to the U.S. Economy. This report is intended to help raise the awareness of water’s importance to our national economic welfare, and to summarize information that public and private decision-makers can use to better manage the nation’s water resources. It highlights EPA’s review of the literature and practice on the importance of water to the U.S. economy, identifies key data gaps, and describes the implication of the study’s findings for future research. EPA hopes this report will be a catalyst for a broader discussion about water’s critical role in the U.S. economy.
Are the Streams that Flow to Your Tap Protected from Pollution?
December 2, 2013
Tiny headwaters or streams that only flow after precipitation or in certain seasons form the foundation of our nation’s water resources. These often unknown, unnamed and under-appreciated streams have a tremendous impact on everything downstream, including rivers, lakes and coastal waters, as well as people. At least 117 million Americans get drinking water from these streams. That is more than one-third of the U.S. population. See EPAs interactive map and blog post to learn more about water in your county.
Water for Wildlife: Bird Baths and Backyard Ponds
December 2, 2013
Do you enjoy bird or wildlife watching out your windows? You might need to add some features and resources to your property to attract them. Although backyard feeders are a popular way to attract birds, providing a source of water is equally important for creating a wildlife friendly yard. By adding a bird bath or wildlife pond, you provide necessary water not only for birds but for many other species as well.
How to Dispose of Leaves the Bay-Friendly Way
December 2, 2013
When autumn arrives, hikers and bikers go the extra mile to find fall foliage. But it can be hard for homeowners to love fall leaves when they drop off of tree limbs and onto green lawns. And in a number of communities, the once-accepted methods of getting rid of leaves—chucking them into the trash can or lighting large piles on fire—are no longer allowed, due to limits on landfill space and concerns over human health. Here are four tips to help you get rid of your leaves while reducing your impact on the Chesapeake Bay or any other water body.
DEP Accepting Applications for 2014 Environmental Education Grants
November 25, 2013
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) invited schools, colleges and universities, county conservation districts, nonprofit organizations, municipalities and businesses to apply for Environmental Education Grants to develop programs and projects.
Flushable Wipes - Not So Flushable
November 18, 2013
Did you ever wonder what happens to the "flushable" products on the market? How flushable are they?
Reduce Your Stormwater Site Full of Homeowner Tips
November 12, 2013
This website serves the purpose of helping homeowners find ways to reduce stormwater either by management installations or by adopting habits that reduce stormwater runoff and/or improve stormwater quality. Information on this site is offered as homeowner advice only.
Penn State Extension Releases Results from a Survey of Roadside Springs
November 12, 2013
Roadside springs are a common source of drinking water in Pennsylvania but little is known about the quality of these water supplies. Penn State Water Resources Extension Educators Jim Clark and Diane Oleson presented a webinar on October 30, 2013, which included water quality results from a recent survey of 35 heavily used roadside springs across the state. The objective of the survey was to determine the drinking water safety of these springs and to increase awareness about the use of roadside springs for drinking water supplies.
New Tools for Sustainable Utility Management
October 28, 2013
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) have developed two important tools targeted to rural and small water and wastewater systems: the Rural and Small Systems Guidebook to Sustainable Utility Management, and the Workshop in a Box. Both draw heavily from the results of four pilot workshops with managers of rural and small systems co-sponsored by EPA and USDA.
Meadows and Prairies: Wildlife-Friendly Alternatives to Lawn
October 28, 2013
In the United States, over 24 million acres of lawn surround our homes. As suburban development continues to spread into open and forested land alike, we lose more and more of our native vegetation and wildlife habitat.
EPA announces the release of the final report, Watershed Modeling to Assess the Sensitivity of Streamflow, Nutrient, and Sediment Loads to Potential Climate Change and Urban Development in 20 U.S. Watersheds
October 14, 2013
Watershed modeling was conducted in 20 large, U.S. watersheds to assess the sensitivity of streamflow, nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus), and sediment loading to a range of plausible mid-21st Century climate change and urban development scenarios in different regions of the nation. This final report describes the structure ― including methods, models, scenarios, and results ― of this effort.
Didymo
October 14, 2013
Do you like to fish or boat? Then this topic is of particular interest to you. Didymo, commonly referred to as “rock snot”, is a species of freshwater algae native to cool-water regions of northern Europe and North America. Since the mid-1980s, it has taken on the characteristics of an invasive species, forming massive blooms that blanket streambeds, choking streams and rivers, and threatening aquatic ecosystems.
Pharmaceutical Disposal and Water Quality
October 7, 2013
Many times things get put down our drains or flushed down our toilets that shouldn’t be because they can harm our septic systems or sewage treatment plants and ultimately our water quality and health. But what do you do with something like unused medication?
Watershed Development & Forests: How Much Is Too Much, Too Little?
September 30, 2013
Forests play an important role in protecting watersheds from the impacts of development.
Penn State Extension Teaches Pond Owners
September 30, 2013
Extension Educator, Jim Clark, partnered with the Cameron Conservation District to secure a grant from the Headwaters Research, Conservation & Development Sinnemahoning Stakeholders Group to teach pond owners in the Sinnemahoning Watershed about pond management.
Winterizing Your Pond
September 23, 2013
While we still may be wearing our shorts, autumn is knocking at our door. It is a beautiful season as the leaves begin to change but all of those falling leaves can be a headache for any of you that have large ponds on your property. The good news is that there are some steps you can take to winterize your pond including preventing problems caused by falling leaves.
USGS Releases: Factors Affecting Public-Supply-Well Vulnerability to Contamination: Understanding Observed Water Quality and Anticipating Future Water Quality
September 16, 2013
As part of the U.S. Geological Survey National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program, a study was conducted from 2001 to 2011 to shed light on factors that affect the vulnerability of water from public-supply wells to contamination. The study was designed as a follow-up to earlier NAWQA studies that found mixtures of contaminants at low concentrations in groundwater near the water table in urban areas across the Nation and, less frequently, in deeper groundwater typically used for public supply.
Back to School Resources for Youth Water Education
September 16, 2013
As we enter into the first few days and weeks of the 2013-2014 school year and the last few days and weeks of summer, don’t forget to include water as part of a complete educational experience for youth. There are many excellent resources that may be helpful as you engage youth in water-related educational experiences throughout the year.
Registration is Open for the 8th Chesapeake Bay Watershed Forum
September 9, 2013
The Chesapeake Watershed Forum is a three day/two night conference that brings together representatives from local watershed organizations and local governments to learn the latest restoration science and direction, network with other groups facing similar challenges, and be inspired to continue the work of preserving and restoring the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The 2013 Forum will run from Sept 27-29, 2013 and is held at the USFWS National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV.
NRCS Launches Updated Teachers and Students Webpage
September 3, 2013
Just in time for the new school year, NRCS unveiled its new Teachers and Students webpage, home to age-appropriate scholastic resources. These tools are designed to help students learn about soil, water, air, plants and animals and what we can all do to protect those resources.
USGS National Water-Quality Assessment Program Releases "Ecological Health in the Nation’s Streams, 1993—2005" Report
August 26, 2013
This report summarizes a national assessment of the ecological health of streams done by the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) National Water-Quality Assessment Program (NAWQA). Healthy functioning stream ecosystems provide society with many benefits, including water purification, flood control, nutrient recycling, waste decomposition, fisheries, and aesthetics. Continued monitoring and assessment of the Nation’s streams is needed to support informed decisions that will safeguard this important natural and economic resource.
Cyanobacteria? What’s that?
August 12, 2013
Have you ever experienced strange colors or smells in your pond or seen them in a lake? Have you ever wondered what might have caused them? Cyanobacteria, often called blue-green algae, are bacteria that are found naturally in lakes, ponds, and slow-moving streams.
2012-2013 Cover Crop Survey Available
August 12, 2013
Cover crops can slow erosion, improve soil, smother weeds, enhance nutrient and moisture availability, help control many pests, and bring a host of other benefits to farms across the country. For more than 20 years, NCR-SARE has supported projects by researchers, producers, and educators who are using this time-tested method of revitalizing soil, curbing erosion, and managing pests.
Grass Clippings and Stormwater
August 5, 2013
With the rain that occurred over the past month, many of us have had to mow our lawns more often. These heavy rains can also contribute to grass clippings ending up in storm water runoff. Grass clippings that are blown into the street eventually enter the street storm drain.
Department of Interior Releases New Stream Mapping Tool
July 29, 2013
The Department of the Interior has just released an online tool called Streamer. The interactive map allows you to trace a stream in either direction—upstream to its source or downstream to where it ultimately empties. It also shows statistics for the stream, such as its length, political jurisdictions it passes through (states, counties, and cities), origin elevation, and other information. A more detailed report also shows all the US Geological Survey’s stream gages for that stream. Streamer is an easy way to demonstrate where local rivers eventually end up, and what’s upstream that might be influencing your local water quality. This tool provides an easy visual way to help demonstrate the concept of a watershed. You can also use the map to show tributaries to a particular stream or river.
Well Caps and Grouting
July 29, 2013
What are two things that could prevent your well from becoming contaminated? Pennsylvania is one of only two states that do not have mandatory statewide construction standards for private water wells. As a result, some important components of a properly constructed drinking water well are often not installed in an effort to reduce the cost of the well to the homeowner.
National Stormwater Calculator Helps Manage Stormwater Runoff
July 29, 2013
As part of President Obama's Climate Action Plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the National Stormwater Calculator, an innovative addition to the administration's virtual climate resilience toolkit. EPA's new calculator will help property owners, developers, landscapers and urban planners make informed land-use decisions to protect local waterways from pollution caused by stormwater runoff. Preventing stormwater runoff, which can impact drinking water resources and local ecosystems, protects citizen health and the surrounding environment.
Milestone Progress Being Made, but No Jurisdiction Meeting All Commitments
July 23, 2013
All the jurisdictions in the Chesapeake Bay region are making progress meeting pollution reduction goals, but no jurisdiction is on track to implement all the pollution reduction practices they committed to achieve by 2013. The analysis of selected interim 2012-13 milestone goals was conducted by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and Choose Clean Water Coalition (CCWC). This analysis is designed to ensure that commitments are being met, and if not, that actions will be taken to compensate for any shortfall.
Chemicals from Parking Lots Causing Water Pollution and Settling into Housedust
July 23, 2013
A recent joint study shows parking-lot sealcoat can affect the quality of downstream water resources.
State Agencies Issue Alert To Contain Invasive Species In Lycoming County
July 15, 2013
After confirming the presence of the invasive aquatic algae known as didymo, or “rock snot,” in Pine Creek, Lycoming County, anglers and boaters are reminded that cleaning their gear is the easiest, most effective means of preventing its spread to other waters.
Manage Water on your Property to Eliminate Mosquito Breeding Areas!
July 15, 2013
During the warm summer months, mosquitoes can breed in any small amount of standing water and it takes them only a week to go from egg to biting adult.
New Tool For Teaching Youth About Safe Drinking Water
July 15, 2013
Check out the newest addition to our youth water education resources, an interactive fact sheet about safe drinking water titled “The Water We Drink”.
Volunteers "Liven-up" the Little Conewago
July 8, 2013
Volunteers helped cut and plant live stakes that will help reduce erosion along the Little Conewago Creek.
Water's Role in Gas Drilling - On-line Curriculum Resources for Educators, Teens, and Adults
July 1, 2013
We are excited to share a new resource that you might find of interest. Two new, youth-oriented online presentations from Penn State Extension explore the role of water in shale-gas drilling and production in the mid-Atlantic region.
Expanding Private Water System Education in Gas Drilling Regions of PA, WV, MD and NY
July 1, 2013
Water specialists from Penn State Extension worked with surrounding states to provide education on managing private water supplies in shale gas drilling regions.
Farm Markets and Water Quality
June 24, 2013
Summer weather is here and many local farm markets have opened for the season. More and more folks are raising produce on their land and selling it at these farm markets.
EPA's Nutrient Pollution Website
June 24, 2013
One of America's most widespread & costly environmental problems is excess nitrogen and phosphorus in the air and water. Visit the EPA Nutrient Pollution website to learn more.
House Environmental Committee OKs Water Well Standards Bill
June 17, 2013
The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Tuesday amended and reported out legislation authorizing the state to set standards for the construction of drinking water wells.
Gooseneck Loosestrife an Arch Beauty Quick to Escape
June 17, 2013
Gooseneck Loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides) is a garden-lover’s dream when the planting site is hostile to more well-behaved horticultural selections. Think ahead, for in fertile soils and confined spaces, this rhizomatous perennial primrose family member can spread as quickly as bamboo to dominate the site!
Announcing Pennsylvania’s First Master Watershed Steward Program
June 10, 2013
Many states throughout the nation offer Master Watershed Steward volunteer programs through their land grant university extension services; these programs train citizen volunteers in the basics of water resource stewardship. Now Penn State Extension, with the help of the Watershed Coalition of the Lehigh Valley and other local environmental groups, are launching PA’s first Master Watershed Steward Program in Lehigh and Northampton counties.
How Are We Doing?
June 5, 2013
The Watershed Winds newsletter launched in 2012. We would like to ask you, our readers for comments to help us improve
What is the Status of Your Water System’s Sourcewater Protection Program?
June 3, 2013
WREN is enhancing its sourcewaterpa website to soon allow residents to check whether their public water supplier has a PA DEP-approved Source Water Protection Plan in place. PA Safe Drinking Water regulations direct public water suppliers to find and utilize the best sources available and to take measures necessary to protect those sources.
Online tutorials for youth address water's role in shale gas drilling
June 3, 2013
Two new, youth-oriented online presentations from Penn State Extension explore the role of water in shale-gas drilling and production in the mid-Atlantic region.These self-running presentations were designed for use by educators in both formal and informal educational settings. Although geared towards youths in grades six through 10, they also are appropriate for adults who may want to learn more about this topic.
American Chemistry Council Looks at Announced Projects and the Economic Impact
June 3, 2013
The American Chemistry Council reviewed current chemical industry projects, ethane production from shale development and the economic impacts.
Safe Drinking Water Clinics Conducted in Bucks County
June 3, 2013
In February and May of 2013, Bucks residents who rely on a private well, spring or cistern for their drinking water attended drinking water clinics and received free, basic water testing and education during a two-hour workshop.
Penn State Extension Teaches State Building Inspectors About Private Water Supplies
May 28, 2013
Penn State Extension Water Specialist, Bryan Swistock, and Extension Educators, Jim Clark and Diane Oleson met with the Association of State Home Inspectors early in May to teach them about private water supplies.
Penn State Hosts 2013 Pennsylvania Groundwater Symposium
May 20, 2013
Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences recently hosted the 2013 Pennsylvania Groundwater Symposium on May 8, 2013. The symposium was held during National Drinking Water Week in recognition of the importance of groundwater to both public and private drinking water supplies across Pennsylvania.
Private Water Supplies in Pennsylvania
May 13, 2013
Do you have a private water well, spring or cistern? If you do, you are one of the more than one million households in Pennsylvania that rely on them! And what may surprise you is that more than 20,000 new water wells are drilled each year in this state.
StormwaterPA Video: Rain Gardens - Saving Streams One Yard at a Time
May 6, 2013
Do you like gardening? Do you love seeing birds and butterflies at flight in your yard? Creating a rain garden offers therapeutic exercise, attracts wildlife, and helps keep stormwater runoff from overburdening sewer systems--or entering local streams. Find out more by viewing this video from StormwaterPA about the value of rain gardens in the watershed and what some communities are doing about it.
Pennsylvania’s Field Guide to Aquatic Invasive Species
May 6, 2013
Finding new infestations of aquatic invasive species (AIS) early, before they have a chance to become established and spread, is extremely important for AIS control and management in Pennsylvania. Therefore, Pennsylvania Sea Grant developed Pennsylvania’s Field Guide to Aquatic Invasive Species to help agency field biologists, water conservation officers and others working in Pennsylvania’s waters to quickly and accurately identify potential new AIS infestations.
House Environmental Committee Held Hearing On Water Well Standards Bill
May 2, 2013
The bill authorizes the Environmental Quality Board to establish water well construction standards through the adoption of rules and regulations of the DEP that are generally consistent with the National Groundwater Association construction standards.
Spring Time is Pond Time!
April 29, 2013
If you are a pond owner, it is a good idea to take a walk around your pond in early spring and check to see if any maintenance is needed.
Activity Book: Discover Your Changing World With NOAA
April 29, 2013
Are you ready to discover your changing world? This free activity book will introduce you to The Essential Principles of Climate Science, help you learn about Earth's climate system, the factors that drive and change it, the impacts of those changes, and what you can do to explore, understand, and protect our Earth. Download the full activity book or individual activities below. Have Fun!
USGS – Landscape Consequences of Natural Gas Extraction in Allegheny and Susquehanna Counties, Pennsylvania, 2004–2010
April 24, 2013
This new report from the United States Geological Survey examines the landscape impacts from both conventional and Marcellus natural gas development in Allegheny and Susquehanna Counties between 2004 and 2010.
Preventing Aquatic Invasive Species Spread Through Water Gardening
April 22, 2013
New curriculum materials designed to educate water gardening enthusiasts about aquatic invasive species are available for use on the Penn State Water Resources website.
Penn State Extension Completes Study of Dairy Herd Water Supplies
April 15, 2013
Dairy farms rely on good quality water to ensure maximum milk production and herd health.
Cost-Effectiveness Study of Urban Stormwater BMPs in the James River Basin Released
April 8, 2013
The James River Association and the Center for Watershed Protection conducted a study that provides local governments in the James River watershed with cost-effective solutions for meeting their stormwater pollution obligations under the Chesapeake Bay Cleanup. Read more in this report, released March, 2013.
National Rivers and Streams Assessment (NRSA) 2008-2009 Draft Report released
April 1, 2013
EPA and its state, tribal, federal and other partners have completed the report highlighting the work on the first survey of the nation's rivers and streams (National Rivers and Streams Assessment, NRSA 2008-2009). This survey combines an assessment of the nation's rivers with the second national survey of small wadeable streams (Wadeable Streams Assessment (WSA)). Planning is also underway for the next survey of the nation's rivers and streams (NRSA 2013-2014).
Water Infrastructure: Approaches and Issues for Financing Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure
April 1, 2013
The nation faces costly upgrades to aging and deteriorating drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. Frequent and highly publicized incidents of combined sewer overflows into rivers and streams, as well as water main breaks in the nation's largest cities, are the most visible manifestations of this problem. The Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) J. Alfredo Gomez, Director of Natural Resources and Environment, issued testimony before the House Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. In the statement, GAO reviews three approaches to bridging the gap between projected drinking water and wastewater infrastructure needs and their current funding.
Ag Producers Learn About Water Quality Effects on Pesticide Spray Applications
April 1, 2013
Penn State Extension is delivering an important message to pesticide applicators in Pennsylvania this year on the impact of water quality on pesticide performance.
Stocking Trout Ponds in Pennsylvania
March 25, 2013
If you have a pond and want to stock it with trout there are a few things you need to think about.
World Water Day
March 19, 2013
World Water Day is held annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. The first World Water Day was held 22 March 1993.
Report Released: "Water Resources Utility of the Future: A Blueprint for Action"
March 19, 2013
The clean water paradigm in the United States is changing. The Water Resources Utility of the Future will transform the way traditional wastewater utilities view themselves and manage their operations. They also will transform their relationships with their communities and their contributions to local economies. This report presents the clean water industry's vision for the future as well as a series of actions that will help deliver our vision. It is jointly released by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) and the Water Environment Federation (WEF). The audience for this report includes federal policy-makers, local utility managers, private sector interests, and state and local governments.
Permitting Green Infrastructure: A Guide to Improving Municipal Stormwater Permits and Protecting Water Quality
March 13, 2013
American Rivers has released this new guide to permitting approaches that encourage or require low impact development or green infrastructure. The guide combines model permit language with excerpts from comment letters that have helped to drive permit evolution. It is intended to be a resource for community and watershed advocates.
New Hands-on Activity, Watershed Decisions, Now Available From Penn State Extension
March 4, 2013
A hands-on, inquiry based activity that helps older youth and adults learn about water quality issues surrounding small watersheds and the decision making processes that go into improving those water quality issues.
Sinnemahoning Watershed Ponds to be Studied
March 4, 2013
Penn State Extension Educator, Jim Clark, and the Cameron County Conservation District, recently obtained a $6,000 grant from the Headwaters RC&D Sinnemahoning Stakeholders Group. The grant will pay for water tests for 35 rural ponds located throughout the Sinnemahoning Watershed.
Reducing Radon in Water
February 18, 2013
You can’t see, smell or taste radon. It could, however, be a problem in your home. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Surgeon General, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths. And if you smoke and your home has high radon levels your risk of lung cancer is much higher.
Protecting Your Well
February 11, 2013
A couple married for 61 years brought a water test report for clarification into the Extension office. They have tested their well periodically for years and for the first time they had a positive total coliform bacteria test. They had the usual questions, “is that bad? (we haven’t been sick or anything).” And, “what should we do about it?”
Exploring the Environmental Effects of Shale Gas Development in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Report Released
February 5, 2013
The Chesapeake Bay Program’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) has just released "Exploring the Environmental Effects of Shale Gas Development in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed." This report has been submitted to CBP Management Board and a response has been requested on its specific recommendations.
Storing Water
January 28, 2013
Droughts occur periodically over much of the United States. In Pennsylvania, severe droughts have occurred more frequently over the past two decades. During droughts, water supplies often become critically low. In some cases, whole communities are either without water or have very limited supplies. Water use restrictions are often imposed on the residents of these communities.
Snow: Good for Groundwater?
January 22, 2013
It is the middle of winter and most likely water pollution, droughts, and groundwater levels are not things that you are thinking about right now. For most people these things tend to be more “warm weather” topics, but should they be?
Water Education Resources for Teachers
January 18, 2013
StormwaterPA's video case studies are powerful, educational tools. Recently, we have begun efforts on strengthening the educational impact of our videos by incorporating them into EcoExpress.org, which is our organization GreenTrek Network's environmental education program. EcoExpress.org is an online resource center designed specifically for local teachers and students. It features streaming documentaries and lesson plan content associated to Pennsylvania's Academic Standards for Environment and Ecology. Science education expert Anita Brook Dupree develops lesson plans associated with our videos.
Macroinvertebrates as Indicators of Water Quality
January 14, 2013
The importance of biological parameters as indications of the health of the river is highlighted in the State of the Susquehanna Report, but the principles are applicable to any stream or river.
EPA Releases National Water Program 2012 Strategy: Response to Climate Change
January 8, 2013
EPA has released the "National Water Program 2012 Strategy: Response to Climate Change," which describes how EPA's water-related programs plan to address the impacts of climate change and provides long-term visions, goals and strategic actions for the management of sustainable water resources for future generations.