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(Lancaster)–  In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency imposed strict new pollution limits on state and local governments in the Chesapeake Bay watershed to sharply curb nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment. Lancaster County is a major contributor of pollution flowing into the Bay. It’s home to over 1,400 miles of streams of rivers, and nearly half of them are polluted or impaired.

That’s one of the reasons why a midstate-based nonprofit began celebrating “Water Week.” The Lancaster County Conservancy is coordinating nearly 30 events this week–including nature hikes, a river cleanup, educational outings, a public art installation, and kayaking trips–to help people understand how water impacts their everyday lives.

Fritz Schroeder, director of marketing and development with the conservancy, said one of the big messages he has for people is to start in their own backyards.

“Think about your landscaping differently,” he said. “Lawns are nice, but they’re not always the most environmental thing you can do. We’re really encouraging people to plant more trees, native bushes and shrubs.”

Native plants provide habitats for pollinators, like birds and bees, which play a critical role in food production. Schroeder also encourages people to look at flow of stormwater across their property, and see if it can be slowed down by planting a rain garden, for example.

Water Week began two years ago, he said. It’s timed to coincide with Chesapeake Bay Awareness week–held the first full week in June.

“I’ve been working on clean water for the better part of 10 years,” said Schroeder. “There are a lot of passionate stormwater professionals in Lancaster County. That’s what led me and a number of people to say, ‘Let’s try and launch something.’ We recognize Lancaster is the largest contributor of nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment to the Chesapeake Bay. We recognize the county has a bullseye on its back, but we also recognize it’s very solvable. While there are all these mandates on what we should be doing, the idea behind Water Week was to make it fun and celebrate this amazing resource.”

A full list of events is available here.