ClearWater Conservancy hit its first fundraising deadline for its Slab Cabin Run Initiative.
ClearWater’s contract with the Meyer and Everhart families says the conservancy needs to show that it has $1.12 million in pledges toward the campaign by the end of the year, said Deb Nardone, ClearWater’s executive director.
The initiative is a proactive source water protection strategy, as previously reported. ClearWater is looking to permanently conserve a little more than 300 acres of agricultural land — the Meyer Dairy property and the Everhart Farm. Both properties are in close proximity to the Harter-Thomas Wellfields, which supply the State College area with the majority of its drinking water.
The total fundraising goal is $2.75 million, which needs to be met by Sept. 30, as previously reported. The plan is to raise the rest of the money from private contributions.
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ClearWater didn’t start at zero, Nardone said. It had some foundation funds available if needed to hit the first milestone.
After announcing the initiative in late October, representatives from ClearWater attended State College Borough Water Authority and Centre Region municipalities’ meetings to present about the project and ask for financial help.
Ferguson Township will contribute $150,000 out of its 2017 budget, and Harris Township pledged $20,000 in 2018.
College Township offered $125,000, with the option of an additional $25,000 so long as there are no restrictions on potential future use of beneficial reuse water, said township Manager Adam Brumbaugh.
Nardone said the landowners would make the decision about beneficial reuse possibilities.
SCBWA approved $750,000 and offered to match — up to $50,000 — any municipality that went above and beyond ClearWater’s ask, Nardone said.
State College borough pledged $110,000 in four annual installments starting in 2018.
SCBWA will match $10,000 of that donation because ClearWater asked for $100,000 from the borough, Nardone added.
Patton, Benner and Halfmoon townships did not make pledges and will continue conversations in 2018 about possibly contributing, she said.
State College borough and Ferguson and College townships made it a condition of their donations that a stream easement be in place that is wide enough to meet the Department of Environmental Protection requirements to be eligible for nutrient and/or sediment reductions under the Chesapeake Bay Pollution Reduction Plan.
The municipalities have to find ways to reduce sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus in impaired streams, Nardone said.
“We have every intention of working with the landowners to put stream bank fencing in ... on these properties, and if the municipalities can benefit from those offsets, we’re glad to provide them,” she said.
Stream restoration will be done on 3,795 feet of Slab Cabin Run that runs through the properties, said Andrea Murrell, ClearWater’s strategic communications coordinator.
“I think the municipalities took their contributions very seriously ...,” Nardone said. “They asked a lot of hard questions that led to really great conversation. I think the public that attended those (meetings) walked away with a much better understanding of what source water protection is.”