Lancaster Clean Water Fund

Lancaster Clean Water Fund

The Lancaster Clean Water Fund, funded through several partner organizations and charitable foundations, serves as a catalyst for increased collaboration to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of current and future clean water projects. In 2020, it will provide $128,000 for water quality improvement projects that help Lancaster achieve the specific pollutant reductions (nutrient and phosphorus) by 2025 in accordance with the Lancaster Countywide Action Plan.

Applications closed on July 26, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. Grantees will be announced on September 18, 2020. Thank you to all who applied!

Grant Specifics

  • Grant requests must be matched with funds or in-kind services at a 1:1 ratio.
  • Verification will be required before reimbursement funds are awarded.
  • Funds are intended for implementation and need to ensure high nutrient reductions. Funds cannot be used for design and engineering unless funds to cover the project implementation costs are already in hand with the project lead.
  • Reporting should be compiled using narrative, photos, and success stories while demonstrating how the project resulted in high nutrient reductions and facilitated collaboration with new partners.
  • 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. Use the Partners’ Collaborative Mapping Tool to get your project location’s restoration opportunity score before applying. A link to Instructions for the map are available on the landing page.

Community Grant Fund – $2,500-5,000 application range

The Community Grant Fund will fund small-scale projects that are led by locally based conservation organizations, municipalities, and community groups. Projects can focus on streambank stabilization, riparian forest buffers, community and urban tree plantings, green infrastructure, or environmental education.
Photo Credit: Michelle Johnsen Photography

Water Quality Impact Fund – $10,000-50,000 application range

The Water Quality Impact Fund will support large-scale, high-priority restoration projects that create a measurable and positive impact on water quality in Lancaster County. Projects can include implementation of agricultural conservation and stormwater practices, riparian buffer plantings, green infrastructure, removal of impervious surfaces, and ecological restoration (stream, wetland, and floodplain restoration). This grant can cover conservation plan writing if a landowner does not currently have a plan.  Applicants should note: buffer installation is required if the project location includes a stream and no buffer already exists.

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.”

Peters Creek Restoration

Donegal Trout Unlimited (DTU) was awarded funding to restore a section of Peters Creek in southern Lancaster County. Restoration efforts, including stream and floodplain restoration and riparian buffer plantings, will reduce nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollutants. Upon project completion, the stream will be used as a conservation laboratory. DTU will partner with Excelon to provide environmental and conservation education to the community through eco-tours for teachers, students, and volunteers, and provide information at the Muddy Run Visitor Center and Conowingo Visitor Center.

“DTU is especially pleased to work with Excelon for the third time on a stream restoration project on Peters Creek, a unique watershed containing native brown trout and the endangered logperch,” says Bob Kutz, conservation co-chair with DTU. “This final stretch of stream, which runs from Peach Bottom Road to the marina on the Susquehanna, will become a model used as a conservation laboratory by teachers, students and volunteers interested in coldwater stream restoration.”

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

Donegal Chapter of Trout Unlimited (DTU) has been restoring cold water streams in the county since 1987 with a focus on those waterways that empty into the Chesapeake Bay. This stream restoration and riparian buffer planting linked four earlier projects done by DTU on Climbers Run, designated by DEP as an impaired stream. DTU restored 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 was awarded funds to restore and stabilize 265 feet of streambank and create a live-stake nursery along Stony Run. This project will reduce the amount of sediment entering Stony Run, a small stream adjacent to the East Cocalico Township building that carries significant flow during rainfall events. As the nursery expands it will act as a riparian buffer for the stream. When the plants are sufficiently established the will be used to obtain live-stakes suitable for other streambank stabilization projects elsewhere in the township (and eventually other areas).

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 Conservation Foundation, and Lancaster Conservancy. These organizations work with countless trusted experts in the field, including the Lancaster Farmland Trust, Penn State’s Agriculture and Environment Center, Stroud Water Research Center, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and local municipalities.

If you’re interested in contributing to Lancaster’s Clean Water Fund, click here for more details.