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Watershed group to seek grants for runoff study

January 20, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The Antietam Watershed Association, a nonprofit organization in Franklin County, is taking the first steps to receive grant money to care for the section of Antietam Creek that flows through the county.

"You're looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars," said Rick Devore, a watershed manager with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

The grant money comes from Section 319 of the federal Clean Water Act.

"It's a grant program that we administer for the (Environmental Protection Agency) and through our delegation agreement," Devore said.

The watershed association decided Wednesday to apply for the grant.

Stephen Rettig, president of the watershed association, said that if the group is approved for the grant, the group's participation would span at least six years.

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He said the first step would be to study the sources and types of runoff affecting the watershed. Those results then would be published, and the organization would work to correct the problems.

"We're excited about it as an opportunity to help our community," Rettig said.

Devore said the program is designed to focus on runoff that comes from a large area, such as a farm, instead of a specific source.

"It's something you know it's there, but you can't just point to it," he said.

Representatives of the DEP approached the watershed association about applying for the grant.

"We are targeting watersheds that are known to be impaired," Devore said.

Also, Rettig said the DEP recognized that the local group is an active organization that exists to raise awareness about issues affecting the Antietam Creek Watershed, which is 91 square miles and encompasses parts of Waynesboro, Mont Alto, Pa., and Quincy and Washington townships.

"They know we have an organization, the Antietam Watershed Association, that's pretty well established," Rettig said. "We've been courted by the DEP, and that doesn't happen often."

Devore said the watershed association needs to complete the grant application soon, and it should receive a response in the fall. The DEP then would work with the association to set up the planning and research tools it needs.

The planning portion alone could require $100,000, he said.

Devore said it would be almost a year before the watershed association would be able to begin the studies.

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