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////Restoring the Octoraro Watershed

Restoring the Octoraro Watershed

The Alliance, the Octoraro Watershed Association, and partners are working to provide resources to Plain Sect Farmers to implement necessary conservation practices on their farms to improve the highly polluted ground and surface waters that feed Octoraro Reservoir, a drinking water source for over 250,000 residents in Pennsylvania.

The Alliance has led the creation of the Octoraro Source Water Collaborative, a partnership of local stakeholders, agency and municipal officials and farmers that meet quarterly to develop and maintain strategic actions to restore the watershed and reservoir.

Quick Facts:

  • The Octoraro Creek Watershed is one of ┬áthe greatest nitrogen polluters in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
  • Agriculture is the most dominant land use in the Octoraro Creek Watershed, making up 74% of the landscape.
  • The majority of farmers (70%) in the Octoraro Creek Watershed are Plain Sect farmers who use traditional farming practices, including conventional tillage and high manure application. Agricultural BMPs implemented in this watershed thus have the potential to substantially reduce sediment and nutrients entering local streams and the Susquehanna River.
  • The entire Octoraro Creek Watershed covers 208 square miles.

Parallel to the Source Water Collaborative, the Alliance has been working with the Octoraro Watershed Association and TeamAg, Inc. to efficiently provide local farmers the financial support they need to implement conservation plans and practices. Through a National Fish & Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reductions (INSR) grant, the Alliance has been able to provide 50 percent of the cost of water-quality-improving conservation practices and 100 percent of any conservation planning that may be needed for a farming operation.

Currently, 15 farmers are enrolled to implement conservation practices on their farms. However, the Collaborative is just getting started. Working with the Octoraro Watershed Association, the Alliance has prioritized a list of 1,076 farmers in the watershed by pollutant reduction potential and willingness to implement. As funding continues to grow, the Collaborative will work through the list of prioritized farms until the watershed is restored.

To continue to build momentum, the collaborative hosted the following events in 2018:

– Manure Management Plan Writing Workshops
– Conservation Breakfast Roundtable Discussions
– Soil & Water Conservation Summer Field Days

Chester Water Authority’s water treatment plant in Nottingham, PA near the Octoraro Reservoir.

BEFORE:

Before photo of a farm field prior to manure storage implementation in the Octoraro Creek Watershed.

AFTER:

Manure storage implemented through the Alliance’s cost share program in the Octoraro Creek Watershed.
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Leslie Weller Agricultural Program Manager, Pennsylvania Office

Leslie is the Agricultural Program Manager for the Alliance's Pennsylvania office. She supports and provides resources to farmers in Lancaster and surrounding counties.

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