Lancaster Countywide Action Plan

More than half of Lancaster County’s 1,400 miles of streams and much of its groundwaters are unhealthy.

Because of this, it is a priority area designated by the Environmental Protection Agency, which has set goals for all six states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollutants by 2025. Pennsylvania’s Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) identifies the best ways to reduce these pollutants, in addition to sediment, in our local waterways.

The Lancaster Countywide Action Plan (CAP) outlines Lancaster’s path for achieving nitrogen and phosphorus reductions for clean and clear water throughout the county. It was developed through a significant and collaborative grassroots approach with local partner organizations, experts, community members, and state agencies.

With the planning process complete, Lancaster partners are now implementing the CAP. Lancaster is responsible for 21% of the state’s nitrogen and 23% of the phosphorus reduction goals – that’s a lot of work in one county! That’s why the Lancaster Clean Water Partners are grateful for the additional capacity that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is providing with funds for a CAP Coordinator to tackle the job. With the Lancaster Clean Water Partners as the lead entity, the CAP Coordinator is made up of three local partners – LandStudies, Lancaster Farmland Trust, and David Miller/Associates – who can focus on specific work that will help us reach local reduction goals. 

Additional support is provided by DEP through implementation dollars which support local projects that achieve the reductions identified in the CAP. Those projects have been identified and will begin as soon as construction and field work can safely resume. Stay tuned for information about specific projects. 

Quick facts about the Lancaster CAP: 

  • Lancaster County is responsible for 21% of the state’s required nitrogen reductions and 23% of the phosphorus reductions.
  • The CAP achieves 9,197,613 pounds of reduced nitrogen and about 500,000 pounds of reduced phosphorus from local waterways.
  • DEP has provided funds to hire CAP Coordinators – those responsible for specific work to achieve reduction goals.
  • Lancaster CAP Coordinator is made up of LandStudies, Lancaster Farmland Trust, and David Miller/Associates.
  • The CAP was presented to DEP in fall of 2019 and submitted to EPA as part of the state WIP in August 2019.

The Lancaster CAP contributes to Pennsylvania’s Watershed Implementation Plan, which is required by the EPA. EPA has outlined backstop actions if required reductions are not met by 2025.

How We Got Here

In June 2018, Lancaster County – along with Adams, Franklin, and York Counties – was invited by DEP to develop a countywide plan (once referred to as the local strategy or Lancaster WIP) to address the state’s WIP goals.

Armed with a toolbox of customized Lancaster data and recognizing the tight timeline, the Partners teamed up with local experts, community members, and state agencies to begin developing, what would later be called, the Lancaster CAP. The writing team gathered bi-weekly from July-November 2018. The plan was then presented to DEP in January 2019 and submitted to EPA as part of the state WIP in August 2019.

A huge thank you to the writing team and essential contributors for their commitment, creativity, and dedication: Justin Evans, Allyson Ladley Gibson, Brian Gish, Ruth Hocker, Mark Huber, Peter Hughes, Matt Kofroth, Joe Sweeney, Chris Thompson, Joellyn Warren, Charity Quinn, Kevin Lutz, Jeff Hill, Jeff Sholly, Jon Beck, Nate Kurtz, members of the Lancaster Clean Water Consortium, the Engineers Roundtable, Lancaster’s buffer team, the Lancaster County Ag Council, the Lancaster Clean Water Partners Action Teams, and many more.

We still want to hear your feedback about the Lancaster CAP. Send your comments via this online form.

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