Lancaster Clean Water Fund
Clean water is a priority across all of Lancaster County, especially since more than half of our streams and much of our groundwater are unhealthy.
The Lancaster Clean Water Fund serves as a catalyst for increased collaboration to efficiently achieve clean and clear water in Lancaster County by 2040 in accordance with the Lancaster Countywide Action Plan (CAP). The fund addresses the immense need for clean water work throughout the county, and provides financial support to bring ideas to life.
Clean Water Fund fast facts
- No match required
- Draft applications due September 2, 2022 (not required)
- Applications due September 30, 2022
- Nonprofits and municipalities eligible
Grant Opportunities: Currently Open
Clean Water Implementation Large Grant – Grants of $100,000 to $500,000
The Clean Water Implementation Large Grant supports installation of high-impact projects in priority locations to achieve nutrient and sediment reductions for Lancaster’s Countywide Action Plan. This funding is intended for implementation projects but design and/or engineering may be eligible for up to 25% of construction costs and 5% for administrative costs. Specific ranking criteria will be used to evaluate all submitted projects.
To apply, call or email Megan Blackmon for the access code.
Grant Opportunities: Currently Closed
Clean Water Implementation Small Grant – Grants of $5,000 – $25,000
The Clean Water Implementation Small Grant supports implementation of collaborative, watershed-scale restoration projects that encourages diverse audiences to improve Lancaster’s water quality at a rapid pace. Projects can range from implementation of agricultural conservation and stormwater practices to riparian buffer plantings to removal of impervious surfaces. Funds can be used to reimburse design and engineering if project implementation funding is already received. If a buffer will be planted as part of the project, a maintenance plan is required.
To apply, call or email Emily Smedley for the access code.
Community Conservation Grant – Grants of $1,000 – $15,000
The Community Conservation Grant supports education, outreach, and regional engagement projects that improve Lancaster’s water quality through collaboration and creativity. Projects can range from educational campaigns to art installations to water quality monitoring equipment. Applicants are encouraged to describe how their project will prioritize collaboration with new Lancaster County partners in an effort to collectively protect water, create habitats, and encourage outdoor exploration.
To apply, call or email Emily Smedley for the access code.
The Clean Water Fund helps projects go from concept to implementation.
Since 2019, the fund has provided $6,005,395 to 29 nonprofits and municipalities working on stream restoration, riparian buffer plantings, agricultural practices, education, and stormwater management projects. These projects will reduce approximately 14,629.36 lbs of nitrogen, 1,884.44 lbs of phosphorus, and 4,523,379.24 lbs of sediment from local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay annually.
*Funding for these projects is from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Countywide Action Plan Implementation grant to Lancaster.
2022 Clean Water Fund Projects
The Turtle Hill Streambank Restoration Project, in West Earl Township, includes implementation of an approximately 1,535 linear feet streambank restoration project along an unnamed tributary to the Conestoga River north of Turtle Hill Road in Ephrata. The project area is agricultural and is directly downstream from a 1,250 linear feet stream restoration project completed by the Township in 2019. The proposed restoration includes grading the existing vertical banks to create a low, flat floodplain bench on each side of the unnamed tributary that allows increased stream flows to access the floodplain, dissipating potentially erosive energy. The proposed project includes 3,245 linear feet of livestock fencing, 8 permanent fence gates, and 196 linear feet of livestock slat crossings.
The Eshelman Run streambank stabilization project is a 400 linear feet reach of stream near the headwaters of Eshelman Run, which captures runoff from Strasburg Borough. Sediment deposition from the drainage area, large volumes of water and little connection to the floodplain have all contributed to bank erosion along the project reach. This project aims to stabilize the stream and establish a riparian buffer.
The Conewago Creek Stream Restoration project includes the implementation of stream restoration, legacy sediment removal, floodplain reconnection, and wetland creation that will lead to quantifiable improvements to water quality, promote enhanced ecosystem resiliency and support the goals of the Lancaster County CAP. Due to the extent of the improvements, the project has been divided into three phases. Funding from the Clean Water Fund is supporting Phase 2 of the project, located in Mount Joy Township, Lancaster County. It will result in 3,213 LF of stream restoration, 5.2 acres of wetland creation and floodplain reconnection, and 52,619 cubic yards of legacy sediment removal.
Lancaster Farmland Trust’s project aims to reduce nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution flowing from a farm in East Earl Township. Best management practices installed will include barnyard improvements, specifically concrete and roofed heavy use areas, a roofed manure stacking structure, roof water controls, underground piping, cattle walkways, and stabilized access roads. It’ll also include 2,400 feet of streambank fencing and the installation of a 1.9-acre buffer.
The project seeks to enhance a segment of the Amos Herr Park property, within the East Hempfield Township Municipal Complex, in an area that is currently either wetlands or is proposed through the Municipalities’ planning initiatives to be naturalized. This segment is on the east side of the Amos Herr Park campus and on the east side of Swarr Run. The project aims to forward this initiative by expanding any existing wetlands, re-grading portions of the area to create a space for increased wetland establishment, installing a system of interconnected trail pathways around the extents of the created wetland area, and naturalizing the remaining lands.
2021 Clean Water Fund Projects
Grantee: Octoraro Watershed Association
The Octoraro Watershed Association will work with Mr. Beiler on his farm in Colerain Township to implement several BMPs that will improve overall water quality in Lancaster County, but specifically in Bells Run. Conservation implementation practices will stabilize the ground and dramatically reduce sediment deposition.
“We are very appreciative of the Lancaster Clean Water Fund’s support of this project. Mr. Beiler purchased this farm in 2018 and has visions of establishing his own dairy operation here in the near future. As part of this vision, Mr. Beiler is committed to improving the existing conditions of the property and ultimately running an operation that is both productive and low-impact on our environment. He fully supports the efforts to restore the health of the local streams in Lancaster County by 2040 and this grant will allow for important Best Management Practices to be installed in order to prevent sediment and nutrients from reaching our waterways.”
Grantee: Denver Borough
Denver Borough will install a native riparian forest buffer, green stormwater management infrastructure practices, and restore a portion of the Cocalico Creek near the Denver Park Annex, adjacent to Denver Memorial Park. Grant funding from the Lancaster County Clean Water Fund will be used to design and construct the two rain gardens and three constructed wetland areas. This project is designed to enhance the active and passive recreational opportunities in the Park Annex by developing the existing greenway in an environmentally sound way that prevents flood damage and soil erosion, protects surface water quality, improves wildlife habitat, provides educational opportunities, and blends the region’s natural diversity with man-made development.
Grantee: Friends of Fishing Creek
Nestled at the southern end of Lancaster County, the Fishing Creek watershed is a hidden gem. In the Fishing Creek Nature Preserve you’ll find a quiet stream that hosts freshwater trout, cranes, herons, and countless other species. With this grant, Friends of Fishing Creek will provide educational information in the form of signage and a bus tour. These hands-on experiences with local community members will emphasize the importance of protecting these waterways.
“Friends of Fishing Creek would like to share our overwhelming gratitude to the Community Foundation and the Lancaster Clean Water Partners. The Friends of Fishing Creek watershed group strives to educate the public on community-driven water stewardship, and help preserve the overall health of the Fishing Creek watershed. Thanks to the Clean Water Fund, our organization has big plans to engage and educate our local community on the importance of water quality!”
Grantee: Lancaster Farmland Trust
Lancaster Farmland Trust will work with three farms in the Pequea Creek Watershed to implement agricultural BMPs. BMPs include manure management, barnyard improvements, animal walkways, fencing, pipes and stabilized outlets to control driveway runoff and roof water; and critical seeding and mulching where needed.
Grantee: Strasburg Jay Cee Park
Strasburg Jay Cee Park will restore 300 linear feet of stream to an unnamed tributary to Little Beaver Creek. In August of 2020, an 8’ dam failed in a flood resulting in extreme incision and associated bank failure, releasing tons of legacy sediments downstream. The stream is actively degrading, with the likelihood of instabilities migrating upstream. The work will raise the channel invert and stabilize the banks to create a stable, well-vegetated channel with a shallow floodplain bench that will slow flood flow velocities and dissipate potentially erosive energy. The work will address excessive sedimentation and habitat degradation that currently exists, and proposed benches will increase the potential for wetland development. Improved habitat will be provided through the establishment of a native species riparian buffer.
Grantee: Little Conestoga Creek Foundation
The Blue/Green Corridor Project Phase 1 stream restoration is on Little Conestoga Creek Foundation property along Marietta Ave in Lancaster Township. Phase 1 will implement specific BMP components identified in the Countywide Action Plan to address nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment reductions.
These improvements include restoration of floodplain wetlands and degraded stream channels to improve water quality, increase stream health and resiliency. The restoration includes establishment of forested riparian buffers on both sides of the stream on adjacent uplands. The riparian buffer totals 1.37 acres in addition to 1,121 linear feet of stream restoration and 2.4 acres of wetlands located within a designated Urban Area. Phase 1 is the first of six restoration reaches for a 2.5-mile corridor project. The highly visible Phase 1 site will highlight and restore a community resource which will have regional pollution reduction impacts significant to Lancaster County that extend to the Chesapeake Bay.
Grantee: Quarryville Borough
Ten years ago along an unnamed tributary of Little Beaver Creek, Quarryville Borough planted a riparian buffer in collaboration with the Pequea Creek Watershed Association. With great growth and success of the buffer, there also came questions from residents regarding the “messy” look of the area. With this funding, the borough will create a trail along the buffer with educational signage to educate residents and visitors of all ages on the value of the riparian buffer to stream life, wildlife, plant life, and humans.
“We are excited to embark on a project that educates the public on the importance of forested riparian buffers for clean water in our local streams. The importance of clean water and healthy streams for our local community cannot be taken for granted. Through education we hope to encourage residents and visitors to participate in volunteer opportunities to plant trees and shrubs to create more forested riparian buffers.”
Grantee: Interfaith Partners of the Chesapeake
One Water Partnership is a regional hub of faith-based action to address highly fragmented non-source pollution challenges and opportunities. With this funding, Interfaith Partners of the Chesapeake will recruit 3-5 faith-based organizations in Lancaster County to build green teams, a training that will equip teams to mobilize around clean water, educate congregation members, lead activities or programs, and implement stormwater best practices on their properties.
“The faith community is an eager and willing partner in efforts to achieve clean water in Lancaster County. This funding will help us build their capacity so that they can answer their call to be good caretakers of God’s Creation!” – Jodi Rose, Executive Director, Interfaith Partners of the Chesapeake
Grantee: Conservation Foundation of Lancaster County
The Conservation Foundation of Lancaster County will work with two Plain Sect farms in the upper Pequea Creek Watershed for stream and pastureland improvements. These projects build upon previous work completed by the Lancaster Conservation District, Salisbury Township, Team Ag, and Lancaster Farmland Trust in this area. Project details involve nearly 2,900 linear feet of stream restoration, over 4,000 ft. streambank fencing, an average riparian buffer inside the fence of 35-50 feet or 6.1 acres of buffer, 2 livestock walkways to control sediment and nutrient runoff to the stream from the pastures, and 4 livestock/equipment crossings along Indian Springs Run and the headwaters of the Pequea Creek.
Grantee: Lititz Borough
The North Lane rain garden installation in Lititz Borough will take excess water from North Lane, filter it while reducing the ponding on the roadway, and discharge the clean water to nearby Lititz Run. This location is the last to need stormwater implementation. Multiple rain gardens currently dot the landscape along the corridor, so this project will complete the bioretention corridor.
“Lititz Borough is thrilled to have received a Clean Water Implementation Grant from the Lancaster Clean Water Partners to continue our work to improve the water quality of Lititz Run. This project will be the seventh small stormwater best management practice installed by the Borough, and will be the third completed on Lancaster General Health/Penn Medicine property along the stream. Not only are each of these facilities a good example of how these BMPs can be sized and placed within a developed community, they each do their part to improve our stream.”
Grantee: Ephrata Township
The Restoration of the Cocalico Creek at Autumn Hills project will primarily address required pollutant reductions for Ephrata Township’s 2018-2023 MS4 Permit. This project proposes to restore the Cocalico Creek by installing a three-zone multifunctional riparian buffer; constructing a canoe/kayak launch area; ADA accessible fishing pier; ADA access; walking trail; parking lot; in-stream structures for stream bank stabilization; floodplain and wetland restoration; and educational signage. The total project cost is estimated at $400,000. Funding from the Lancaster Clean Water Fund will be applied to construction activities such as erosion and sediment control, earthwork, in-stream structures, and mobilization.
Grantee: City of Lancaster
There is a lack of understanding in the watershed protection and restoration movement of people’s current and historical connections to local waterways, specifically the Conestoga River. The purpose of this project is to raise awareness of the quality of waterways in Lancaster County and to foster a sense of stewardship for the Conestoga River watershed. To accomplish this, the City will work with community leaders to gather personal stories about people’s connections to the river and share those stories through various artistic mediums such as plays, music, visual art, poetry, and more.
“Lancastrians have a long and often cherished history and relationship with the Conestoga River, however some of these connections are not well known. We’re excited to shine a light on people’s experiences with the river and to honor those connections as we continue to build a community of stewards for this valued natural resource.” Steve Campbell, Director, Department of Public Works
Grantee: East Donegal Township
East Donegal Township is partnering with Marietta Borough, with support from private property owners to design, permit, and construct 1,300 linear feet of streambank restoration along the most unstable portions of this reach. Sections of the 2,150 linear foot project reach are eroded with steep banks due to the high flows from the large upstream drainage area and lack of stabilization along the banks. In addition to streambank restoration, the project will expand the riparian buffer along the entire 2,150-foot reach. This will result in the creation of 3.5 acres of buffer habitat. East Donegal Township was awarded a $200,000 Growing Greener Grant from PA DEP in December of 2020, and the township will use this additional funding to take the project from design to construction.
Grantee: Tri-County Conewago Creek Watershed Association
After several years of quiet activity, TCCCA recently brought on renewed leadership and is ready to re-engage residents in the Conewago Creek Watershed. Funds from this grant will be used to send mailers to all 4,400 households in the watershed informing residents on how to get involved, and develop and install signage along the Conewago Recreational Trail highlighting several projects visible from the trail.
“TCCCA is incredibly excited to envision clean and clear water by 2040, and welcome community members to get involved!”
Grantee: Donegal Trout Unlimited
The Donegal chapter of Trout Unlimited’s mission is to help landowners and farmers protect, reconnect, restore, and sustain cold water fisheries and watersheds in Lancaster County. This funding will assist with that mission by restoring and maintaining 0.4 miles of the main branch of Fishing Creek and one of its unnamed tributaries located in Drumore Township. Specifically, DTU will install BMPs to decrease nutrient and sediment loads by filtering agriculture runoff, removing invasive plants and trees, improving fish habitat in a naturally reproducing trout stream, and restoring 3.25 acres of wetlands.
“We are excited that this grant completed the funding requirements for Phase 2 of the Camp Andrews stream restoration project, including restoration of 3.25 acres of wetlands.” — Barry Witmer, President, Donegal Trout Unlimited
2020 Clean Water Fund Projects
Millersville University Watershed Education Training Institute (WETi) has been awarded funds to provide pre-service student teachers with a meaningful watershed education experience, focusing on issues that impact local watersheds. As part of the project, students will have formal classroom instruction, site visits to impaired streams, and discussions with organizations about failed and successful conservation projects.
This project will unite students from different cultures and socio-economic backgrounds, and provide them with the knowledge and tools to share with their future K-12 students so they too can protect our waterways and diverse aquatic ecosystems for generations to come.
“We’re very excited to receive this grant from the Partners,” says John Wallace, professor at Millersville University and project coordinator. “The grant will fund a novel, multi-scaled approach to train our pre-service student teachers to participate in a national certification stormwater management program, visit stormwater BMPs in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and experience the construction of a stormwater rain garden at MU WETi – all with the objective of disseminating this information across geographic and socio-economic boundaries for future generations to strive for the improvement of clean waters through effective stormwater management strategies.”
West Lampeter Township has been awarded funding to install a bioretention rain garden in the Willow Street Township Park. Currently a 15.5 acre tributary drainage area of untreated, urbanized area within the Mill Creek watershed flows through the park carrying pollutants, sediment, asphalt oils, and debris into downstream infrastructure. The project will remedy this by installing a rain garden with 18″ of amended soil media and native plants.
The rain garden installation provides a valuable opportunity to educate the public while providing an aesthetically pleasing and naturalistic example of the benefits that rain gardens provide.
“West Lampeter Township is honored to have received this grant funding from the Clean Water Fund and excited to break ground on this project,” says Amanda Hickman, community development director at West Lampeter Township. “This rain garden project not only compliments our recreational facilities but serves as a catalyst for the long term integration of our public education and conservation strategies moving forward.”
The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, in partnership with the Turkey Hill Clean Water Partnership, will install a number of conservation practices on six farms. Conservation practices include manure storage facilities, riparian forest buffers, heavy use area stabilization, grassed waterways, and on-farm stormwater management. These practices will decrease pollutant loads entering local streams and rivers. They will also educate audiences on the importance of supporting farmers in protecting water quality.
Paradise Township was awarded funding to install a vegetated swale on Vernon Stoltzfus-Kinzers land to reduce stormwater pollution. Vernon Stoltzfus-Kinzers Property Holdings, LLC, owns a 13-acre property within the urbanized area of Paradise Township in the Pequea Creek Watershed. To reduce stormwater pollution, the township will partner with Mr. Stoltzfus to retrofit the concrete-lined swale to a vegetated swale. The swale will include amended soils and be planted with a variety of native perennial flowers and grasses. These improvements will reduce stormwater rates and volumes, and increase biodiversity and habitat for native wildlife species.
Murry Ridge Park, located in West Hempfield Township, is in the West Branch Little Conestoga Creek Watershed surrounded by suburban residential development. West Hempfield Township will implement green infrastructure improvements to reduce stormwater pollution. The township plans to divert stormwater into a vegetated swale, construct a bioretention basin, plant a riparian buffer, install landscaping to attract pollinators and songbirds, retrofit the dry detention basin to a dry extended basin, add a natural trail, and incorporate educational signage. These improvements will reduce stormwater pollutants, increase biodiversity and habitat for native wildlife species, and educate the public on the benefits of these projects.
The Culliton Park Renovation Project includes the implementation of green infrastructure that will greatly increase the aesthetics and improve water quality. Two rain gardens/bioretention areas and a subsurface infiltration bed will be installed to collectively manage stormwater from 1.48 acres. Annually, the green infrastructure implemented is expected to capture 1,324,337 gallons of stormwater and result in the reduction of 5216.87 lbs of sediment, 14.80 lbs of phosphorus, and 5.97 lbs of nitrogen.
Culliton Park (formerly Farnum Park) is one of the city’s largest public parks and the most prominent park in the SouthWest neighborhood. This project has been several years in the making. After extensive input from neighborhood residents, the design was completed with artist involvement and construction commenced in February of 2020 and will be completed in November 2020.
Lancaster Farmland Trust was awarded funding for the implementation of BMPs on a farm located in East Lampeter Township with significant need for stream corridors and livestock management. Along with project partner TeamAg, Inc., Lancaster Farmland Trust has developed a list of site-specific BMPs for the farm that will result in significant nutrient and sediment reductions in the Lower Conestoga Watershed. This impactful project, located in a visible and significant area, will serve as an outstanding example of the Lancaster farming community’s growing commitment to environmental restoration.
The Donegal Chapter of Trout Unlimited was awarded funds for a restoration and buffer installation project in the Fishing Creek Stream. With these funds, they will restore stream banks and plant buffers to reduce the stream’s nutrient and sediment pollution. This project serves as an essential improvement for the farm and completes its conservation plan requirements, which supports the family’s business, culture, and ultimately the local water quality.
The Lancaster City Alliance and Lancaster Tree Tenders will use the awarded funding to purchase 20 trees that will be planted in several locations along West King Street/Columbia Avenue and South Prince/South Queen Streets. Lancaster City staff will prep the sites, plant, mulch, and stake the trees. Lancaster Tree Tenders will provide tree care details in English and Spanish and species information to the property owners. The trees will benefit the target areas through energy savings, lower temperatures, reduced air pollution, enhanced property values, wildlife habitat, social and educational opportunities, and aesthetics.
2019 Clean Water Fund Projects
The owners of the House at Climbers Run, a retreat center and rental space, used to dread heavy rain because it meant that the stream on their property would flood, causing significant land erosion, safety concerns, and increased pollution.
Donegal Chapter of Trout Unlimited worked with the property owners to restore 1530 linear feet along the stream and planted 2.45 acres of riparian buffer.LEARN MORE
The project will implement floodplain restoration work, riparian buffers, educational signage, and over 1,500 feet of new ADA accessible walking trails along the creek. A small dam will also be removed as a part of this project, which will be included in the overall permitting process for the project (which is currently underway). This project will also reduce the amount of sediment and pollutants entering the Chiques Creek, and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay, by over 130,000 pound each year, which will result in significant water quality improvement for this critical watershed.
Rapho Township made streambank improvements to a 0.4-acre flooding-prone property on Drager Road in Columbia, Pa. The streambanks were severely eroded, only stabilized by rotting railroad ties. The township saw this vacant, graded lot as an opportunity for a clean water demonstration project. With the assistance of the Penn State Agriculture and Environmental Center staff and volunteers from the Chiques Creek Watershed Alliance, the township stabilized 175 linear feet of streambank using dump rock and planted 50 native trees on the property. The stabilization and plantings will greatly reduce erosion, preserving the land and stream. The property is owned by the township and will remain as open space in perpetuity.
“This is another project that demonstrates the ongoing water quality improvement projects within Rapho Township. Dump Rock stabilization is one option that can be used by property owners to stabilize stream banks on their property,” says John Haldeman, public works director at Rapho Township.
The project was completed in October 2020.
East Cocalico Township recently stabilized 265 feet of streambanks and planted 75 feet of riparian buffer along a section of Stony Run, a small stream adjacent to the township building. With lack of adequate vegetation along the stream, the streambanks became severely eroded. In most areas, the vertical bank height ranged from three to four feet. It is estimated the project will prevent 30,475 pounds of sediment from entering the stream each year.
With the project so close to the township building, countless residents can see, enjoy, and learn about the work. When the trees planted are sufficiently established, they will be used to cut live stakes suitable for other streambank stabilization projects elsewhere in the township.
The project will count towards Lancaster’s efforts to accomplish Lancaster’s Countywide Action Plan.
This project consists of two parts: 1) outreach and building commitment for water quality improvements with Leacock Township farmers; 2) demonstrate several agricultural water quality improvement BMPs at a Leacock Township farm (1110 feet of stream restoration (minimal), barnyard improvements, and 3.6 acres riparian forested buffer).
Most of Watson Run at the farm is already fenced keeping animals out of the stream with good vegetation and little streambank erosion. The landowners have agreed to install riparian forested buffer. Those areas where there is streambank erosion will be restored by cutting back the banks.
These grants are possible thanks to the support of groups such as the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Lancaster’s Water Week. Lead partners include: The Lancaster Clean Water Partners, Lancaster County Community Foundation, Conservation Foundation of Lancaster County, and Lancaster Conservancy. These organizations work with countless trusted experts in the field, including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Economic Development Company of Lancaster County, Lancaster County Conservation District, Lancaster Farmland Trust, local municipalities, and Penn State’s Agriculture and Environment Center.
If you’re interested in contributing to Lancaster’s Clean Water Fund, click here for more details.
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