In partnership with the Blair County Conservation District, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay has developed the educational website www.cleanblairwater.org to teach Blair County, PA residents about water quality and their local watersheds.
What are the pollution threats to your favorite local stream? How can you protect your drinking water supplies? What do the terms “stormwater,” “watershed,” and “stream designation” mean? What are local watershed groups doing to protect water, and how can you help? All of these questions and more are answered on the new “Care for Blair County Water” website, which strives to connect Blair County residents to their water and show them how to protect it. Blair County is home to over 1,000 miles of streams that are used for swimming, fishing, boating, and drinking water. Many residents feel a special connection with these waters, but might not realize how actions they take everyday impact the health of these streams. Everyone has a role to play in keeping waterways clean, which is why the website covers a wide array of actions, both big and small, that anyone can take to protect water quality.
The Blair County Conservation District teamed up with the Alliance to complete this work to help local Blair municipalities meet their MS4 stormwater permit requirements. Important components of the permit revolve around public education and outreach. The website’s development coincides with the Alliance’s ongoing program “Building Green Infrastructure in Blair County, PA,”which has encouraged regional collaboration, offered professional trainings, developed financing strategies, and will implement green infrastructure projects in the county through an upcoming design competition. Local engineering and landscaping firms that participated in the program’s trainings are also highlighted on the new website.
The website offers several interactive tools that let users explore Blair County waterways. Through an interactive map, users can type in any Blair County address and learn which watershed that address is located in. Through the “Everyone Lives Downstream” flowcharts, users can follow the path of water from their small local streams to the Susquehanna River and eventually, the Chesapeake Bay. By clicking “Report a Water Quality Problem!” users can submit reports about noticeable odors, illegal dumping, and other issues in their local waterways. These reports are then forwarded to the appropriate municipality for investigation.
Other features include background information on every watershed and municipality in the county, and a “Your Role” section where users can get tips on how to protect water quality based on their roles in the community (homeowner, business owner, elected official, outdoor enthusiast, etc.). For those who are new to water terminology, the website offers an introduction to stormwater, watersheds, and stream designations. A variety of videos, useful links, reports, brochures, printable maps, and other materials are available throughout the website.
Funding for this effort has been generously provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Visit the Care for Blair County Water Website!