Potter County Receives Two Grants For Water Quality Programs

From Potter County Today

watermonitorPotter County is taking steps to protect its precious water resources, in partnership with several stakeholder groups. The county was recently awarded two grants to support this mission.

As the site of the only “triple divide” watershed in the eastern United States, Potter County has strategic significance to a broad variety of agencies and organizations with an interest in water quality. Headwaters of the Allegheny, Genesee and Susquehanna rivers can all be traced to the same plateau in northern Potter County. Nearly 70 percent of the county’s streams are classified as “high value” or “exceptional value” by the Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection. Many communities in Pennsylvania and New York rely on these watersheds for clean drinking water.

In an effort to most effectively monitor and protect these resources, the Potter County Board of Commissioners has pulled together watershed associations, conservation organizations, county agencies, Penn State Extension, school districts and others to form a Water Quality Workgroup. A separate and affiliated group, the Triple Divide Watershed Coalition, addresses similar issues from the perspective of public water suppliers.

Goal of the organization is to coordinate efforts to most effectively monitor water quality and address any issues that may arise from industrial activity or other threats. The Water Quality Workgroup’s goals are risk reduction, early detection of problems, and sharing of information. Although the organization is in its formative stages, its credibility was recently confirmed by the awarding of two competitive grants to help support its mission. One is from the Water Resources Education Network and the other through the Colcom Foundation.

Funds will primarily be used to purchase water monitoring equipment for volunteers, acquire and install 12 in-stream monitoring systems, pay for chain-of-custody testing for public water supplies, and develop educational materials. Key elements of the workgroup’s plan include: collecting baseline data and monitoring water quality; creating a database that can be shared; and educating students, the public, and professionals from various industries, including natural gas, on local water issues.

Baseline data and water quality monitoring will be collected through volunteers, in-stream monitors, and chain-of-custody water testing for municipal water supplies. Water quality data and irregularities will be shared with state agencies and industry, with a goal of early detection and corrective action if needed. The Water Quality Workgroup is also exploring various options to provide long-term sustainability of these efforts after the grant funds are expended.

Potter County Today is a timely information site courtesy of the Potter County Commissioners. Reprinted with Permission.

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