In 2014 the state of Pennsylvania signed the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement along with five other states. Joining the regional effort to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, the Commonwealth pledged to avert more than 565 million pounds of nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment from entering the Bay every year by 2025. Since then, PA has implemented thousands of agricultural best management practices and different types of natural infrastructure across the watershed to reduce sediment runoff. In 2018, the state recognized it was far from achieving its obligation and created a pilot program by funding five local governments, York, Franklin, Adams, and Lancaster counties, provided they limit nutrient and sediment loads entering their streams.
As a result of this pilot program, York County developed the York Countywide Action Plan to prevent 4 million pounds of nitrogen from flowing into York waterways by 2025. Since then, the Planning Commission for York County has provided the PA Department of Environmental Protection with an annual list of potential projects, such as stormwater management, stream restoration, bio-retention, and riparian buffers. Despite the amount of money that has gone into these projects and their inherent success, Pennsylvania will need to make significantly greater investments in these and similar projects so that York County and the other 42 counties in the watershed can meet their total maximum nutrient and sediment loads. A standard stream restoration project prevents approximately 1,200 pounds of nitrogen from running into the waterway every year — only 0.03% of York County’s total goal.