Officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) presented a $700,000 grant July 2 to the Upper Susquehanna Coalition as part of a new EPA national initiative supporting community-based approaches to cleaning up the nation's watersheds.
"The many threats to water quality demand a multi-faceted strategy for watershed protection," said Jane M. Kenny, regional administrator for EPA's Region 2, which includes New York State. "With this funding, the coalition will wisely take many routes to improving the Upper Susquehanna from restoring wetlands to reducing streambank erosion to repairing roadside ditches. Just as important, citizens and students will gain expertise that will contribute to the watershed's ongoing improvement."
The coalition's efforts will help ensure that the people who rely on the Susquehanna River for their drinking water continue to receive high quality water in years to come.
The Upper Susquehanna watershed, a 7,534 square-mile largely agricultural area that stretches from Otsego, New York to Athens, Pennsylvania, is home to 100,000 people.
Donald S. Welsh, regional administrator for EPA's Region 3, which includes Pennsylvania said, "This funding recognizes the public and private partnerships which improve the environmental health of the Susquehanna Headwaters watershed. The continuing dedication of community partners will ensure cleaner water and measurable environmental change."
The Upper Susquehanna Coalition will use its funding to restore wetlands throughout the watershed, build county coalitions to support community needs, install stream bank buffers, train local groups in natural stream restoration; assesses erosion, restore road ditches and establish a college internship program.
Mark Watts, district manager, Chemung County Soil and Water Conservation District and chairperson of the Upper Susquehanna Coalition stated, "This funding will support our efforts at the county level to address local water quality issues of importance while also having positive benefits to our downstream neighbors. We are excited about showing how 14 counties can develop a watershed approach that crosses town, county and state lines to implement meaningful projects in a cost effective manner."