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 (CAP).

Since 2019, the fund has provided $3,023,560 to 24 nonprofits and municipalities working on stream restoration, riparian buffer plantings, agricultural practices, education, and stormwater management projects. Since April 2021 alone, more than $2 million has gone directly to nonprofits and municipalities for clean water projects that contribute to the CAP and rapid stream delisting strategy. The fund addresses the immense need for clean water work throughout the county, and provides financial support to bring ideas to life.

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.

Lancaster County was awarded $3,583,216 for the coordination and implementation of the Countywide Action Plan (CAP) and verification of BMPs. Because of this, the Partners is opening a special grant round of the Clean Water Fund to allocate implementation dollars. The Clean Water Implementation Large Grant application will be opening January 4. Approximately $1.7 million is available to fund projects that achieve our CAP goals. 

Information Session

Watch the recorded information session to learn the specifics of the current Implementation Large Grant cycle


Review questions from the information session about the Implementation Large Grant

Information Sheet

Get a snapshot of everything you need to know about the Clean Water Fund Large Implementation Grant opening on January 4, 2022.


Applications for the Implementation Large grant open on January 4, 2022. Contact the grants manager to get the access code to apply (see below).

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. In 2022, approximately $1.7 million is available to be awarded to projects. 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. Applications open January 4, 2022.

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

Upcoming grant opportunities

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.

2021 Clean Water Fund Projects

Beiler Farm Best Management Practice Installation

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.”

Denver Park Annex Cocalico Creek Greenway Development Project

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. 

Drumore Park Educational Signage and Bus Tour

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!”

Full Speed Ahead: Accelerated BMP Implementation in the Pequea Creek Watershed

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.

Little Beaver Creek Tributary at Sides Mill Road Emergency Restoration Improvements

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.

Little Conestoga Blue/Green Corridor Stream Restoration

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.

Memorial Park Riparian Buffer Educational Trail

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.”

One Water Partnership in Lancaster County

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

Pequea Creek Headwaters Improvement Project

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.

Rain Garden Installation on North Lane

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.”

Restoration of Cocalico Creek at Autumn Hills

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.

River Connections: Stories of Lancastrians’ Connections to Water

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

Stream Restoration and Riparian Buffer Planting

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.

Tri-County Conewago Creek Watershed Association Reinvigoration and Trail Education

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!”

Upper Camp Andrews Fishing Creek Restoration

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

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.