Lancaster Clean Water Fund

Lancaster Clean Water Fund

Clean water is a priority for partners across all of Lancaster County, especially since over half of our streams and much of our groundwater are unhealthy.

The Lancaster Clean Water Fund serves as a catalyst for increased collaboration to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of current and future clean water projects in accordance with the Lancaster Countywide Action Plan.

Since 2019, the fund has provided $972,000 to 16 nonprofits and municipalities working on stream restoration, riparian buffer plantings, agricultural BMPs, education, and stormwater management projects. The fund addresses the immense need for clean water work throughout the county, and provides financial support to bring ideas to life.

Information Session

Watch the information session to learn the nitty gritty details of each grant opportunity

Information Sheet

Get a snapshot of everything you need to know about the Clean Water Fund.


Applications are currently closed. When grant rounds are open, call or email the grants manager to get the access code to apply (see below).


Find a local partner to collaborate with on a project! Review all of the partners in the county working towards clean water.

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. Applications currently closed.

To apply, call or email Emily Smedley for the access code.

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. Applications currently closed.

To apply, call or email Emily Smedley for the access code.

Clean Water Implementation Large Grant – Grants of $200,000 to $500,000

We are no longer accepting applications for stormwater projects at this time but will continue to accept applications for agricultural projects until those funds run out.

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. In 2021, approximately $2 million is available to be awarded to projects. Specifically, $1 million will be allocated to agricultural projects and $1 million will be allocated to stormwater projects. This funding is intended for implementation projects but design and/or engineering may be eligible for up to 25% of construction costs. Specific ranking criteria will be used to evaluate all submitted projects. Applications are currently closed.

To apply, call or email Laurel Etter Longenecker for the access code. | 717-627-4440

2020 Clean Water Fund Projects

Conservation Practice Implementation in Salisbury Township

Salisbury Township was awarded funding to install BMPs to address nutrient and sediment reductions on two plain sect farms at the Pequea Creek headwaters. Barnyard runoff and stream protection – the top two agricultural conservation needs in Salisbury Township – are the main focus of these two projects. These projects will also provide valuable learning and demonstration opportunities to address the barrier to conservation practices among plain sect farms.

“Cleaning Lancaster’s streams requires a commitment from landowners to make improvements that will improve water quality and a package of funding to make it possible,” says John Williamson, TeamAg, Inc. “We assisted Salisbury Township in obtaining a NFWF grant for two farms for fencing, stream crossings, and improved manure management structures. When this grant didn’t cover the entire project, we turned to the Lancaster Clean Water Fund. These projects will be built within a year, and will help these farms improve their economic and environmental performance.”

Stormwater Management Education for Pre-Service Student Teachers

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.”

Willow Street Park Rain Garden Installation

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.”

2019 Clean Water Fund Projects

Climbers Run Stream Restoration

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.


Chiques Creek Greenway and Pollutant Reduction Plan

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.

Drager Road Streambank Stabilization and Riparian Buffer

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.

Stony Run Streambank Stabilization and Livestake Nursery

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

Watson Run Stream Restoration and Barnyard Improvement

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.