Kennett Supervisors OK new public/private program to cut sediment in waterways

Ashley Allen of i2 Capital

KENNETT — Township Supervisors approved a forward-looking and cost- effective program to improve water quality while meeting the mandates of the federal government and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

“Having a sufficient supply of clean water is a pressing issue for Kennett Township and the whole country,” said Supervisor Chair Richard Leff. “The supervisors are proud of the work done by Township Manager Eden Ratliff and his staff in coming up with a solution that is cost effective for the taxpayers of the township.”

At Wednesday’s board meeting, the Supervisors approved a contract to work with the Revolving Water Fund in the Brandywine-Christina watershed. Pioneered by i2 Capital and the Nature Conservancy, the Revolving Water Fund is an innovative conservation finance program that implements natural infrastructure on agricultural lands to reduce sediments in the waterways while supporting compliance objectives. The public/private partnership plan needs approval by the state.

“Kennett Township is constantly seeking ways to improve the environment for our citizens,” Ratliff said.

Ashley Allen, Founder and CEO of i2 Capital added, “This public/private partnership with the Revolving Water Fund is a prime example of the township advancing innovative models to meet government regulations in a cost effective manner. We’re thrilled to partner with leaders in Kennett Township to introduce this solution in Pennsylvania.

The concept was developed with major support of the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Conservation Innovation Grants program and the William Penn Foundation. This sediment-reduction program approved by the Supervisors is expected to reduce the cost of Kennett Township’s water quality program by up to 40% during the early years of the program.

“The team at Kennett Township worked with the specialists at the Revolving Water Fund to bring this model to life in a way that is beneficial to municipal governments in Pennsylvania who face mounting pressure and costs to build out their Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) plans. We are very proud to be the first municipality in Pennsylvania to pioneer this program,” Ratliff said.

The state and federal governments have established waste-load allocations for municipalities identifying the maximum amount of pollutants that can be discharged into streams. Sediment can come from soil erosion or from the decomposition of plants and animals. Wind, water and ice help carry these particles to rivers, lakes and streams. The Environmental Protection Agency lists an extensive array of sediment in rivers, streams, lakes and reservoirs, but focuses on pollutants from poisoned or toxic sediments which make their way into the food chain, accumulating in fish, ducks and other wildlife.

“The Revolving Water Fund is an anchor strategy in the Delaware River Watershed Initiative,” said Clare Billett, Senior Program Officer with the William Penn Foundation’s Watershed Protection Program. “By aligning watershed stewardship across public, private and philanthropic sectors, we advance a critical common conservation agenda for the people of Pennsylvania.

The contract with the Revolving Water Fund will be part of Kennett Township’s 2021 budget expense, supported by the general fund. The contract comprises the remaining significant cost for the Township to fulfill its sediment reduction requirements under its current MS4 permit.

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