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A monthly Update from the Water Resources Education Network
 a project of the League of Women Voters of PA - Citizen Education Fund 

February 2014
In This Issue
February Feature: Keeping the Faith as Stewards of the Earth - Working with Non-Traditional Partners in the Watershed
West Virginia Crisis Spotlights Need for Drinking Water Protection in all States
Beat the Beads: Ban Sought on Water Polluting Beads in Cosmetics
Bring on the Geeks: Rain Barrels Get High Tech Makeover
Rain Gardens found in Unlikely Place Down Under
Source Water Protection Coalitions Rally Together
Pre-Order Your DVD: WaterBlues, Green Solutions
WREN Offers Scholarships to Help Municipal Officials attend Schuylkill Watershed Congress
Impacted By Hurricane Sandy? NRCS May be able to Help
Policy Updates and Public Comments Requested
Reminder: WREN Grant Proposals are Due March 21
WREN February Feature
Keeping the Faith as Stewards of the Earth
Working with Non-Traditional Partners in the Watershed
March 4, 2014
How can TRI help you answer questions about the industrial facilities operating in your community?
March 5, 2014
2 - 3:30 pm


March 6, 2014
March 6, 13, 20 and 27, 2014 
March 12, 2014


April 9, 2014

The Life of a Stormwater Practice: BMP Maintenance

May 21, 2014

1-3 pm


Technical Roundtable on EPA's Study of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources 



Conservation Limits Rate Increases for a Colorado Utility



Report from the Pacific Institute: The World's Water Volume 8 Keeps Water Challenges and Solutions Center Stage

Videos to Watch 
Quick Links 

 Wastewater Plants Still Vulnerable: City Looks to Fortify Sewers Against Storms


 Fertilizer Limits Sought Near Lake Erie to Fight Spread of Algae


Green planners to rack brains to solve Pittsburgh South Side stormwater runoff - 3 Day Charette planned for April  



Drugs in Drinking Water Higher than Expected


An Update of the Pennsylvania Master Well Owner Network 


New contaminated groundwater remediation process issued patent


Stormwater Links


Waters Muddied Over Maryland Stormwater Fees


 Demonstrating Regenerative Stormwater Conveyance Systems in Lancaster County, PA 


Oil &  Gas Links


The frackers have won: WSJ's Greg Zuckerman


PA Supreme Court Act 13 Decision
Due: March 7, 2014
Pennsylvania American offers Student Scholarships:
Due: March 14, 2014
Two Tracks: Watershed Education - up to $5,000 and Source Water Protection Collaborative Grants - up to $7,000
Due: March 21, 2014

Due: March 31, 2014

Due: April 30, 2014

Other Funding:


Western Kentucky University Stormwater Utility Survey 2013
There are 1412 Active storm water utilities around the country
Groundwater Education Resources:
Two dynamic bibliographies:
Save the Date 

Spring Professional Educators Workshop:

"Low Impact Development Techniques to Reduce Non-Point Source Pollution in Our Waterways"


March 8, 2014


 The Woods in Your Backyard - Centre County

University Park

 March 8, 2014


National Groundwater Awareness Week

March 9-15, 2014

March 12, 2014
1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
March 12, 2014
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
March 27, 2014
1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
March 27, 2014
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM


 Upper Schuylkill Source Water Protection Group annual meeting

Contact Matt Genchur, PRWA for information 814-353-9302

 March 11, 2014, 11 am - 1 pm

Pottsville, PA


PA Association of Environmental Educators 2014 Conference 

March 14-16, 2014

Ligonier, PA 


March 12, 2014


York, PA 


2014 Schuylkill Watershed Congress


March 15, 2014


24th Annual PA Lake Management Society Conference: Healthy Lakes, Healthy Communities

State College, PA

March 19-20, 2014


Envision and Sustainable Sites

AWRA - PMAS Meeting

11:30 am - 1:30 pm

March 20, 2014


 Pocono Source Water Protection Forum

"Protecting Your Own Drinking Water: Our Most Important Resource"

Pike County Training Center, Lords Valley, PA 18428

March 22, 2014 


World Water Day

March 22, 2014


Conservation Banking Roundtable

March 24, 2014
Pittsburgh, PA
Attendance is by invitation only, but if interested in participating please contact


2014 PA Rural Water Association Annual Conference

March 25-28, 2014

State College, PA  


Pond Home Study Online Course - Deadline to sign up March 29, 2014


March 31, 2014
Penn State Harrisburg


7th West Branch Susquehanna Restoration Symposium

Apr 10 - 11, 2014

State College, PA  


South Side Green Infrastructure Charrette by Pittsburgh Green Infrastructure Network (GIN)

  April 10 - 12, 2014

Pittsburgh, PA


Earth Day with the Erie Explosion

April 13, 2014

Doors open at 1pm
Game time is at 2pm

Contact: DEP's Jake Moore



National Drug Take Back Day

Don't wash them down the drain or flush them down the toilet.

April 26, 2014 10 am - 2 pm


9th National Water Quality Monitoring Conference

April 28 - May 2, 2014

Cincinnati, OH


12th Annual PA Land Conservation Conference

May 1 - 3, 2014

Reading, PA


2014 EAC Network Conference

May 3, 2014

Reading, PA


PA Chapter American Water Works Association Annual Conference

May 6 - 8, 2014

Bethlehem, PA


2014 Pennsylvania Groundwater Symposium

Registration is now open!

"Building Groundwater Knowledge through Monitoring"

May 7, 2014

State College, PA


 HydroMania 2014

May 8, 2014
Cedar Crest College

Allentown, PA


River Rally 

May 30-June 2, 2014 

Pittsburgh, PA 
Due March 13. 
WREN Grantee Meeting
June 10-11, 2014
By Invitation
Dive Deeper II - Penn State Extension
Sept. 25, 2014
Harrisburg, PA

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    Celebrate our Wonderful Public Asset - March is Groundwater Awareness Month!   

February Feature: Keeping the Faith as Stewards of the Earth

Working with Non-Traditional Partners in the Watershed 

By Lynda Ginsparg

The Wesley Union A.M.E. Zion Church's raised bed vegetable and flower garden is watered courtesy of the large tank and a 55-gallon barrel provided by the Harrisburg Rain Barrel Coalition. The result is a garden project maintained by church volunteers and others in the surrounding neighborhood.

Churches, synagogues and faith-based organizations see themselves as stewards of the earth, but many don't know how to turn their mission into a reality that will benefit their local watersheds and help promote clean water in their communities. Now that tide is beginning to change. Learn how some members of the faith community are already embracing this challenge.



West Virginia Crisis Spotlights Need for Drinking Water Protection in all States

Headlines abound on the West Virginia drinking water crisis where a chemical spill in January led to ongoing concerns about safe running water for 300,000 people. Here are two recent pieces:
More headlines are being seen such as:

The water contamination in West Virginia is serving as a cautionary tale for other states to update outdated or nonexistent drinking water protection plans. Americans are realizing that this crisis is everyone's problem. Water is a shared resource.  Water suppliers can't do the job alone.  Community leaders and citizens have a stake in working together to see that appropriate risk management measures are put into place for all water supplies, public and private. 


If there is anything good to come out of West Virginia's experience, it is the message to act now to protect our water sources. Pennsylvania DEP offers an excellent tool at no out of pocket cost called the Source Water Protection Technical Assistance Program that can help communities and water suppliers identify key risks, and take action to prevent or reduce threats to drinking water before it's too late.  Watch the 3 min. video at www.sourcewaterpa.org to learn more about this invaluable program.

In addition, WREN has grants available up to $7,000 per project to foster collaborative drinking water protection efforts at an aquifer or county level; proposals are due March 21,2014.  For more information, click here.   
Beat the Beads: Ban Sought on Water Polluting Beads in Cosmetics 

Many body washes, shampoos, toothpastes and other cosmetics contain microbeads which offer exfoliation and abrasion. These beads flow from the bathroom drain into the sewer system. Wastewaster treatment plants are not designed to filter them out. As a result, the beads are contributing to pollution in our water supplies and oceans. 


The "Beat the Micro Bead" campaign includes the video below, a website and an app. 

The Plastic Soup Foundation & The North Sea Foundation  
produced a video on the harm from microbeads in waterways


The 5 Gyres group, a group that fights plastic pollution in oceans, lakes and rivers, worked with other organizations to develop a free app,"Beat the Microbead," that lets iPhone users scan product bar codes to see whether microspheres are among the ingredients.  
Some manufacturers, including Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson, have agreed to phase out the use of plastic beads. Others, such as Burt's Bees, already use nonplastic alternatives like powdered pecan shells.
Bring on the Geeks: Rain Barrels Get High Tech Makeover

Australia is set to roll out intelligent rainwater tank systems (rain barrels) that can be controlled through smart phones and automatically control the release of water. Utility South East Water's commercial arm, iota, is behind the Talking Tanks initiatve, which monitor water levels in a rainwater tank and automatically releases water at a controlled rate if required.


With this smart technology on board, you can limit the possibility of stormwater overflows and flooding. Talking Tanks monitor the water level in a rainwater tank and automatically release the excess water at a controlled rate. If rainfall is expected, Talking Tanks will pre-emptively drain to provide new capacity to capture and hold the incoming stormwater. 

This video explains how Talking Tanks work.


With Talking Tanks you can:

  • operate tanks remotely from any internet link or smartphone
  • monitor and control rainwater tanks in real time
  • automatically release water in advance of storm event
  • reduce stress on your assets and extend the life of your infrastructure
  • view your tank history, build usage patterns and predict future needs.

Adrian Blinman, business development manager at iota, said: "Stormwater can increase the risk of overflow into urban waterways and in some cases carry litter and pollutants or cause erosion. Customers are able to pre-set the required tank water levels and control this remotely through the use of an internet connection or even a smart phone, taking the guesswork out of rainwater management." 


Click here and here to read more.


Rain Gardens found in Unlikely Place Down Under  

Rain garden display at Australian bus shelter.

To stimulate interest in raingardens and show how simple it is to build one, the Victorian Government's Melbourne Water has constructed a series of raingarden displays in bus and tram shelters, inside metrolite panels.

The display shows how stormwater runoff is collected on the roof and then channeled down into the raingarden. The raingarden acts as a natural filter to catch any impurities before they can run into local waterways. With the tagline across the back of the shelters, "If we can build a raingarden here, you can build one at home," the 3D raingardens show the layers and construction required for residents to add a beautiful raingarden to their properties. 

10,000 Raingardens Project helps tackle stormwater pollution in Melbourne, Australia.

As an added incentive, the water company offers construction assistance to install the rain garden, and a payment plan that allows residents to pay for the rain garden as part of their water bill. Check out the photos here. View the video above on Melbourne's 10,000 Raingardens Project.  

Source Water Protection Coalitions Rally Together

Mobilizing for safe drinking water, members representing multiple source water protection coalitions came together from seven counties to the DEP North Central Region office in Williamsport for a first ever joint meeting to share news and further the coalitions' goal to protect drinking water quality. 



From L to R; Dr.Jennifer Whisner, Columbia -Montour Source Water Protection Coalition Chair; Carl Cox, Tioga County Source Water Protection Coalition Chair, Mike Savage, Central PA Source Water Alliance for Protection Chair, Eric Moore, North Central Source Water Protection Alliance Chair, and John McLaughlin, Triple Divide Watershed Coalition Chair.  Photo courtesy of Jim Clark, PSU Extension


They took the opportunity to meet with DEP North Central Region Director Marcus Kohl to ask that DEP acknowledge their delineated drinking water recharge zones in DEP's gas/oil permitting system. The coalitions also asked that public drinking water systems be notified when a permit is issued in close proximity to these sensitive areas. Most coalition members now have DEP-approved source water protection plans in place, and view permit integration as an essential next step for implementing their protection plans.


Future annual meetings and enhanced communications are being planned by the groups. The Coalitions hope to make a difference with new Gas & Oil Regulations by submitting comments to the Environmental Quality Board. (See below for information about how to submit comments about proposed Chapter 78 Oil and Gas regulations, deadline March 14, 2014.)


The 55 attendees included the chairmen and members of five source water protection coalitions, community planners from Centre, Lycoming, Clearfield and Tioga Counties, Geisinger Hospital, Tioga County GIS Department, Penn State Extension, PA Rural Water Association, SSM Group, DEP and EPA. 


Click here to read more about drinking water coalitions.  Click here to read more about DEP's Oil and Gas Programs. 



Pre-Order Your DVD: WaterBlues, Green Solutions

Penn State Public Media's Water Blues Green Solutions is a 60-minute documentary telling stories about real people solving their water blues (flooding, pollution and scarcity) with green solutions in four cities across the country. The cities include Philadelphia, Portland, San Antonio, and the Bronx, NY.
The film can act as a catalyst for community discussions where people can share ideas, communicate local issues, build lasting relationships, and plan for the future.
The DVD is available for pre-order here. Click here to explore the story and here for the toolkit to hold your own discussion group.

WREN Offers Scholarships to Help Municipal Officials attend Schuylkill Watershed Congress

Registration for the Schuylkill Watershed Congress is now open.  The Delaware Riverkeeper Network has held the annual event over the last 15 years to advance the best available information and techniques for protecting and restoring watersheds. The focus on networking across disciplines means that the Watershed Congress melds science, policy and practical applications into one program to help people interested in understanding, protecting and restoring their local streams.


The League's WREN Project is helping to offer a limited number of scholarships for local elected officials from Pennsylvania to attend the 2014 Watershed Congress. The goal is to help them learn ways to grow the region in a more sustainable fashion. Click here for more information on municipal scholarships. Click below for event information.  


Date:  Saturday, 3/15/2014

Time: 7:30am to 3:15pm
Location: Montgomery County Community College - West Campus Pottstown, Pennsylvania
Who should attend?
Municipal officials and staff; members of watershed organizations; conservancy and land trust representatives; members of community groups; civic leaders, environmental consultants and contractors; educators and students (high school and above); and the general public are all invited.

Impacted By Hurricane Sandy? NRCS May be able to Help

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will accept applications for easements from landowners who want to enroll floodplains impacted by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 (see PA map below or click here for a larger version). Applications will be accepted until April 18, 2014.


"Floodplain easements are a long-term solution to provide relief for landowners while preventing future damage from flooding," said Denise Coleman, State Conservationist. "We are continuing to work with local government and the private sector to help the victims of Sandy recover. This new round will allow eligible landowners to apply to place more critical floodplain acres under easement."


Interested landowners should contact their local USDA Service Center to learn more about the program and submit an application prior to the April 18, 2014 deadline. More information is also available on the  NRCS floodplain easement website.
USGS released a report, Monitoring Storm Tide and Flooding from Hurricane Sandy Along the Atlantic Coast of the United States, October 2012. It is available here.

Policy Updates and Public Comments Requested

Make your views known. 


Public Comment is requested on the following:


Chapter 78 Environmental Protection Performance Standards at Oil and Gas Well Sites 

To read the proposed regulations click here. View DEP webinars which overview the regulations here.


For more information on how to offer comments, visit DEP's Oil and Gas Regulations webpage.  The deadline for comments was extended to March 14, 2014

In light of the recent PA Supreme Court decision that invalidated portions of the Act 13 oil and gas drilling law, including setbacks, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council urged PADEP to not delay implementing the stronger proposed Chapter 78 changes. Read PEC's testimony here. On February 21, 2014, the PA Supreme Court rejected the Administration's Application for Reconsideration of its Act 13 decision. The result is the denial clears the way to return the case to Commonwealth Court to re-decide. Click here to read more.


The Governor called on drillers to voluntarily observe the environmental standards recently struck down as part of Act 13 by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The Marcellus Shale Coalition stated it would agree to honor those setbacks.

The setback provisions struck down by the court had required a minimum of 300 feet between an unconventional oil or gas well bore and a stream, spring, body of water or wetland. The minimum distance for conventional oil and gas wells between a well bore and a stream, spring, body of water or wetland was established at 100 feet. Distance provisions can be waived by the state Department of Environmental Protection upon satisfactory demonstration of additional protective measures taken by an operator to ensure that water quality will be fully protected.


Legislative Efforts to standardize Environmental Rules and Regulations

In the aftermath of the PA Supreme Court decision, some legislators in Harrisburg are continuing to look for ways to establish uniform regulations at the state level.  State Representative Seth Grove stated his intention to House members to standardize environmental protection in the issuance of permits: "The legislation I will be introducing will enable DEP to enforce clear, consistent, and transparent set of environmental rules and regulations throughout the permitting process. These rules and regulations will preempt all local ordinances. By enabling businesses to comply with a single set of rules and regulations will help to create an open, consistent, and compliant working environment between government and businesses." Read more.


Zoning Hearing on Natural Gas Wastewater Treatment Plant

A Berwick-based company applies to build natural gas wastewater treatment plant. A zoning hearing will be held March 4, 2014, at 7pm at the Luzerne County Courthouse. 


New Chesapeake Bay Agreement Released  - Call for Public Feedback

Chesapeake Bay Program partners are seeking public input on a new agreement that will guide the next chapter of restoration across the watershed. A public comment period will run until March 17, 2014.


Interested parties can offer input in the following ways:

Current Bills Under Consideration by PA Legislators

  • House Bill 1576 and Senate Bill 1047 would fundamentally change endangered species protection in Pennsylvania. Concerns are being raised that if passed, HB 1576 could change stream classifications, protections for trout and strip protections from plants and animals threatened with extinction in Pennsylvania. Proponents of the bill cite the need for a better balance of economic growth and environmental protection.  HB 1576 is scheduled for floor vote in the PA House the week of March 10th.  
  • Senate Bill 411, the "Mine Drainage and Mine Pooling Water in Fracking Bill," was passed by PA Senate Appropriations Committee on January 13, 2014. The bill would amend Pennsylvania's Environmental Good Samaritan Act to limit the liability of mine operators who provide "treated mine drainage from a permitted mining activity site" for reuse in hydraulic fracturing operations in oil and gas development.  The mine operators would be "immune from liability for any cost, injury or damage arising out of the use of the treated mine drainage."
  • House Bill 1565 (Hahn-R-Northampton)- Riparian Buffer Bill.  Public hearing was held by House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee on 1/29/14.  Click here to watch the Committee's hearing.
    • Bill would prohibit DEP from mandating the use of stream buffers to control erosion and sedimentation in High Quality and Exceptional Value Watersheds under Chapter 102 of DEP's regulations. Click here for information in PA Environment Digest on the issue.   
  • House Bill 1607 - Pennsylvania General Assembly is considering eliminating exemptions in the PA One Call law (Underground Utility Line Protection Act) that currently exclude natural gas gathering lines.  
    • If approved, the bill would transfer enforcement of the One Call Law from the Department of Labor and Industry to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. This would remove current exemptions in state law, a move opposed by PIOGA, that exclude certain production and gathering pipelines and systems from compliance with the PA One Call law. 
    • U.S. Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) position:" PHMSA believes that state one call laws should not include exemptions; however, if exemptions must be included, they should be narrowly defined for specific, low-risk activities, but should not be provided for entire groups or entities.  In addition, rationale for exemptions should be supported with data."
    • The Pennsylvania One-Call System, Inc. is strongly in favor of eliminating the exemptions and wants mapping and integration of all gathering lines into the One Call System in the interest of public and contractor safety.

PA Legislative Session Schedule 

  • Click here for calendars and committee meeting schedules.

Reminder: WREN Grant Proposals are Due March 21, 2014

Boy with Frog Stream The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania Citizen Education Fund (LWVPA-CEF) through its WREN Project (Water Resources Education Network) has funding available to help launch or strengthen community partnerships that raise awareness and educate citizens about ways to keep Pennsylvania water resources clean and healthy.


If your proposal meets our criteria, we'll work together with you to help make your project a success. For 2014, WREN offers two grant programs to help local community partnerships raise awareness about threats to water bodies and water supplies -- and promote solutions.


A Watershed Education track with awards up to $5,000 to help foster local community partnerships that raise awareness, implement demonstration projects and encourage behavior change that will reduce polluted runoff.


A Source Water Protection track with awards up to $7,000 to foster regional or County-level Source Water Protection Collaboratives that will educate local officials and residents about ways to protect public drinking water resources from contamination, improve emergency response coordination and ensure the community water supply will be sustainable.


Click here to read more.

Water Policy News is published monthly by the Water Resources Education Network, a project of the League of Women Voters of PA - Citizen Education Fund.  Please send your water education related programs and activities to WREN Project DirectorVisit www.sourcewaterpa.org to learn more about drinking water protection.  Visit www.waterwisepa.org or wren.palwv.org to learn more about WREN and local projects in PA. For events, check the