Conservation District holds Annual BMP Tour

Heather McKean, Watershed Conservationist, shows tour participants (left to right) Ron Lybrook, DEP, Baine Puller, District Director, Cliff Lane, District Director, Don Tanner, and Jim Clark, Penn State Extens data logger.ion and Kerry Fetter, District Director the monitoring information on the water quality

Before the District’s regular Board meeting on August 24, the Board held a tour to showcase its Water Quality Monitoring Program. The participants car-pooled to a location where the Conservation District has installed a real-time data logger to monitor stream quality and flow.

“We must take the necessary precautions and steps to preserve and protect the natural resources here in McKean County and across the commonwealth,” said Kerry Fetter, Chairman, McKean County Conservation District. “This new information will help establish base-line data on the streams in McKean County.”

The District’s Water Quality Monitoring Program was initiated after receiving funding to complete two large stream assessment projects that included eight streams and their tributaries with a third project planned to begin this year. These assessments and water quality monitoring projects help prioritize restoration projects and protect high quality watersheds.

To enhance the program, the District plans to deploy 15 real-time data loggers to monitor stream quality and flow before, during, and after Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling operations. Water quality data loggers will be deployed in streams where drilling operations are occurring and/or planned.

Funding for the Water Quality Monitoring Program was garnered through DEP and the Colcom Foundation whose primary mission is to foster a sustainable environment; its grants honor the humanitarian objectives, the foresight, dignity, and compassion of its benefactor, Cordelia S. May.

Participants were also briefed on other initiatives and their success including: the McKean County Volunteer Monitoring Network that utilizes approximately 20 people to monitor for temperature, pH, TDS, conductivity, and water flow once a week; macro-invertebrates samples and barium and strontium testing are completed twice a year; and the Streambank Stabilization Initiative has implemented 47 projects since 2007 to stabilize approximately 6,868 feet of streambank, creating 1.5 miles of riparian area and preventing an estimated 500 tons of sediment from entering the Waters of the Commonwealth utilizing $340,205.71 in funding.

The District also presented information on the District’s value to the Oil & Gas Industry and the importance to include Conservation Districts in any proposed Impact Fees to give Districts a stable stream of funding to allow the Districts the opportunity to provide technical assistance to install numerous BMP’s such as: riparian buffers, streambank stabilization, fencing projects, water quality monitoring, and stormwater management projects to minimize erosion and runoff. Achieving a steady stream of funding would also enable Districts to provide technical assistance to assist the farming community to develop and implement conservation and nutrient management plans, assist municipalities with floodplain ordinances and stormwater management; and provide environmental education opportunities to promote conservation and protection of natural resources.

Source: McKean County Conservation District

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