Two Lebanon County municipalities will split $300,000 in Pennsylvania grant money to use on projects to protect the local watershed.

Palmyra and Myerstown boroughs will each receive $150,000 from the Watershed Restoration Protection Program of the Commonwealth Financing Authority. The program is funded through the impact fee paid by the state’s unconventional natural gas producers for fracking in the Marcellus Shale region.

The grants were announced recently by Sen. Chris Gebhard, who represents the state’s 48th Senatorial District (Lebanon County and parts of York and Dauphin counties).

“The projects will reduce current pollution and environmental damage, helping to preserve our environment and making our communities nicer places to live,” Gebhard said. “I am pleased these state dollars will be used for the benefit of the 48th District.”

According to the release, Palmyra received the first grant to construct a bioswale and a vegetated swale as part of a pollutant reduction plan for the borough.

The swales will filter polluted stormwater runoff from a development along South Lingle Avenue. They also will help to achieve local water quality goals, as well as support county and quality statewide initiatives to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution into local waters and into the Chesapeake Bay.

Myerstown will use its grant funding to mitigate environmental damage caused by polluted stormwater runoff to Tulpehocken Creek.

The borough will install a nutrient separating baffle box along the storm sewer system off Goodwill Street, upstream of outfall 002, to improve water quality by reducing the sediment and nutrient loading rates discharged to the creek, the release states.

Categories in the application included abandoned mine drainage abatement & treatment; flood mitigation; greenways, trails & recreation; orphan or abandoned well plugging; and watershed restoration & protection.

Matthew Urban, a spokesman for Senator Gebhard, said the ACT 13 protects received the funds through “a very competitive grant program with hundreds of applicants.” Gebhard’s office assisted some local municipalities in navigating the grant application process.

Watershed restoration is an issue the senator “cares deeply about,” Urban said. Earlier this year, he said, Gebhard toured the Snitz Creek area, “where Russ Collins pointed out some of the deterioration issues and the effectiveness of past restoration efforts.”

“Helping to keep our creeks and streams in good working order to reduce run-off and erosion and keep the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay healthy are a good use of these state funds,” Gebhard said.

Statewide, approved projects totaled $181,430,682. According to the Commonwealth Financing Authority website, “a 15% match of the total project cost is required” from each approved applicant.

The end goal of the program, the website explains, “is to restore, and maintain restored stream reaches impaired by the uncontrolled discharge of nonpoint source polluted runoff, and ultimately to remove these streams from the Department of Environmental Protection’s Impaired Waters list.”

Click here to see a PDF listing all program applicants in Pennsylvania. Applicants in bold were approved for funding at the Sept. 20 meeting of the CFA.

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Tom has been a professional journalist for nearly four decades. In his spare time, he plays fiddle with the Irish band Fire in the Glen, and he reviews music, books and movies for Rambles.NET. He lives with his wife, Michelle, and has four children: Vinnie, Molly, Annabelle and Wolf.