Pennsylvania Lake Erie Environmental Forum
Lake Erie and the surrounding watershed play a significant role in the economic vitality, cultural heritage, and overall environmental health of Erie County and the region. Recognizing this, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection organized the Pennsylvania Lake Erie Environmental Forum (PA LEEF) as a way to relay environmental and regional information to the public - and to engage citizens in the process of environmental protection.
The forums are open to the public and feature topics like water quality, stormwater, scientific studies and research, policy issues, energy, agriculture, tributary and watershed updates, and larger-scale policies affecting all of the Great Lakes. Details about upcoming and past forums are highlighted below. For more information, contact Amber Stilwell, Erie Coastal Outreach Specialist.
Historically, the forums have been held in person at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center (TREC), however, as a result of COVID-19, the forums are now held virtually.
May 16 2023 Virtual forum begins at 1:00 ends at 3:00 PM Eastern
The Future of Stormwater: Artificial Intelligence?
New technologies in stormwater management will be the focus for the next Pennsylvania Lake Erie Environmental Forum (PALEEF), hosted virtually on May 16, 2023, at 1:00PM Eastern. Participation is free but registration is required.
Local and regional speakers will discuss the future of stormwater in Pennsylvania, specifically, harmful algal blooms (HABs) and a new custom designed litter boom to catch plastic debris entering Presque Isle Bay, planting trees as a stormwater management technique, new local stormwater fees, and current research into artificial intelligence and stormwater management.
1:00 – 1:05 Welcome to the Forum Tim Bruno, Great Lakes, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) Amber Stilwell, Pennsylvania Sea Grant & Penn State Extension
1:05 – 1:20 Great Lakes Updates Tim Bruno, Great Lakes, PA DEP
1:20 – 1:45 Stormwater Impacts: Two Local Projects Jeanette Schnars, Ph.D., Regional Science Consortium
1:45 – 2:05 Planting Trees to Reduce Stormwater Impacts John Vanco, Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier Park (LEAF) & ReLEAF
2:05 – 2:20 City of Erie Stormwater Program Sarah Peelman, City of Erie
2:20 – 2:25 Break
2:25 – 2:55 Stormwater and Artificial Intelligence David Rankin, Great Lakes Protection Fund Brandon Wong, Hyfi Branko Kerkez, Hyfi
February 21, 2023 - recording available via YouTube
Topic: Education and volunteerism
Speakers included Pennsylvania Sea Grant, the School District of Philadelphia, the Intermediate Unit, and the Regional Science Consortium will come together to discuss science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in Pennsylvania. Participants heard from experienced and creative teachers who have successfully enhanced environmental literacy at their school. Discussions covered innovative and successful education programs and discussed environmental literacy. Following the education experts, Penn State Extension professionals spoke about existing fundamental volunteer programs occurring throughout Pennsylvania. Passionate Pennsylvanians heard about programs that can ignite their passion for clean land and water, including the Master Watershed Steward program, Master Gardener program, 4-H, First Investigation of Stream Health (FISH), the Master Well Owner Network (MWON), and Greening the Lower Susquehanna (GLS): Volunteer Corp.
3:00 – 3:05
Welcome to the Forum
Tim Bruno, Great Lakes, PA DEP
Amber Stilwell, Pennsylvania Sea Grant & Penn State Extension
3:05 – 3:20
Great Lakes Updates
Tim Bruno, Great Lakes, PA DEP
3:20 – 3:25
What's new with Pennsylvania Sea Grant - Environmental Literacy and Workforce Development
Michelle Niedermeier, Education Lead, Pennsylvania Sea Grant
3:25 – 3:45
Environmental Literacy Initiatives in Northwest PA
Rebecca Schaufelle, Education Facilitator, Northwest Tri-County Intermediate Unit
3:45 – 4:05
Education with the Regional Science Consortium
Jeanette Schnars, PhD, Executive Director, Regional Science Consortium
4:05 – 4:10
4:10 – 4:25
CGLL in the Classroom: Creating Accessible Enrichment
Mike Demeno, Computer Science & STEM Teacher, School District of Philadelphia
Hilary Henwood, SPED Teacher, School District of Philadelphia
4:25 – 4:50
Extending Community Learning through Volunteer Engagement
Natalie Marioni, Extension Educator, Penn State Extension
4:50 – 5:25
Volunteering with Penn State Extension
Erin Frederick, Statewide Master Watershed Steward Coordinator, Penn State Extension
Andy Faust, Master Gardener Area Coordinator, Penn State Extension
Tara Mondock, Associate Director Client Relations, Penn State Extension
5:25 – 5:30
October 25, 2022
Hazard Mitigation & Climate Change - Recorded version available via YouTube
Climate change is already taking a toll in the Great Lakes region. Record breaking high temperatures and unpredictable extreme weather events have many cities around the Great Lakes preparing for future sustained impacts. These hazards present an opportunity to work together and create a future for people and nature to thrive. Join this webinar to learn what has been done and what is to come for cities around Lake Erie.Invited speakers from the University of Buffalo, Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative at Kent State University, Pennsylvania Sea Grant, and JH Consulting will come together to talk about hazard mitigation around the Great Lakes and Erie in the face of a changing climate. Discussions will occur around projects completed in Cleveland and Buffalo as well as plans for Erie. Climate migration will also be a focus area.
1:00 Welcome - Tim Bruno, Chief, Office of the Great Lakes, PA DEP, Amber Stilwell, Coastal Outreach Specialist, PA Sea Grant
1:05 – 1:25 Great Lakes Updates - Tim Bruno
1:25 – 2:05 Climate Change Hazard Mitigation & Climate Change Induced Migration - Nicholas Rajkovich, University of Buffalo and Terry Schwarz, Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, Kent State University
2:05 - 2:10 - Break
2:10 – 2:50 - Hazard Mitigation in Erie, PA - Sara Stahlman, Pennsylvania Sea Grant and Jeffrey Harvey, JH Consulting
2:50 – 3:00 - Closing and Adjournment, Public Comment - Tim Bruno and Amber Stilwell
April 19, 2022
AGENDA Recorded version available
TOPIC: PER- AND POLYFLUOROALKYL SUBSTANCES (PFAS)
PFAS are widely used, long-lasting chemicals. Components of PFAS break down slowly over time, can persist in the environment, and are found in air, water, fish, soil, and in some cases, human and animal blood. There are thousands of PFAS chemicals found in many consumer, commercial, and industrial products, creating challenges for studies assessing the human health and environmental risks. (EPA, 2022). We have a lot to learn about PFAS and how humans and the environment are impacted by them.
January 25, 2022
Invasive Species in the Lake Erie watershed
- Great Lakes Updates
- Invasive Carp and Lake Erie – Status and Risks
- Brandon Road Project Update: Research, Design, and Challenges
- Pennsylvania Invasive Species Council – Current Priorities and Initiatives
- Water Use Statistics and Trends in the Great Lakes and Pennsylvania
October 26, 2021 - Harmful Algal Blooms and Climate Change
Download the October 2021 agenda
JULY 6, 2021 - Environmental Justice and Equity
Welcome and introductions
Tim Bruno, Chief, Office of the Great Lakes, PA DEP - Great Lakes Updates - Tim Bruno, PA Department of Environmental Protection. Tim Bruno serves as the Chief of the Office of the Great Lakes at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. In his role, he represents Pennsylvania to multiple interstate and international Great Lakes water quality and water use governmental entities, as well as forms partnerships and administers funding for the protection and restoration of Pennsylvania’s Great Lakes Basin.
Sara Stahlman, Extension Leader, PA Sea Grant - Sara Stahlman is the extension lead for Pennsylvania Sea Grant and vice chair of the Community Resilience Action Network of Erie (CRANE). She manages and coordinates statewide extension programs that protect coastal resources in focus areas such as climate change, water quality, and invasive species. She earned her bachelor’s in biology with a minor in psychology from Penn State Behrend, and her master’s degree in biology from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania.
Environmental Justice and Equity; The Crossroads of Environmental Justice and Water Affordability: Understanding History’s Role in Water Affordability in the Detroit Region and Rising to Meet a Contemporary Challenge
Monica Lewis-Patrick, CEO, We the People of Detroit - Monica Lewis-Patrick is an educator, entrepreneur, and human rights activist/advocate. Along with the other four founders of We the People of Detroit (WPD), she, with the leadership of volunteers and community experts, placed herself and WPD at the forefront of the water justice struggle in Michigan, across the country and globally. Lewis-Patrick is known throughout the environmental justice community as The Water Warrior. She is actively engaged in the struggle for access to safe, affordable water for all under-resourced communities.
Emily Kutil, Assistant Professor, Lawrence Technical University - Emily Kutil is a designer, researcher, and Assistant Professor of Architecture at Lawrence Technical University. Emily is a member of We the People of Detroit Community Research Collective and coordinates Black Bottom Street View. Previously, Emily was the 2019-2020 Reyner Banham Fellow at the University at Buffalo. She holds a BS in Architecture from the University of Cincinnati and a Certificate in Museum Studies from the University of Michigan.
Environmental Justice and Equity; Assuring Environmental Justice, Equity, and, Inclusion in the Protection of Pennsylvania’s Environment
Allison Acevedo, Director, PA DEP Office of Environmental Justice - Allison Anderson Acevedo is Director of the Office of Environmental Justice at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Prior to joining DEP in 2018, Allison served in the policy, advocacy, and non-profit sectors, supporting and implementing systems change and resource collaboration. She operated a consultancy that provided nonprofit organizations guidance on program development, policy and strategic planning. She also served as Director of Education for United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey and as a staff advisor to two PA state legislators. In these positions, Allison learned and practiced participatory community engagement and planning. Before working in the non-profit and policy sectors, Allison worked as an attorney for several years with the U.S. Department of Labor and at a private firm. Allison is also a founding member of the Philadelphia Black Giving Circle, which advances building a culture of philanthropy in Philadelphia’s Black community.
Environmental Justice and Equity; One Block at a Time: Community-Driven Planning for Climate Resilience in Marginalized Communities in the Great Lakes
Madison Rodman Resilience Extension Educator, MN Sea Grant - Madison Rodman is a resilience extension educator with the University of Minnesota Sea Grant Program. Her work focuses on strengthening Minnesota's coastal communities, economies, and their environments to better prepare for and respond to extreme weather events and changes in climate. In her free time she enjoys exploring the shore of Lake Superior with her overly energetic Australian Shepherd.
Sara Stahlman, Extension Leader, PA Sea Grant - See above profile information.
MARCH 23, 2021
Great Lakes Updates - Tim Bruno, PA Department of Environmental Protection. Tim Bruno serves as the Chief of the Office of the Great Lakes at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. In his role, he represents Pennsylvania to multiple interstate and international Great Lakes water quality and water use governmental entities, as well as forms partnerships and administers funding for the protection and restoration of Pennsylvania’s Great Lakes Basin.
Introducing the Pennsylvania State Water Planning Process - Mark Matlock and James Horton, PA Department of Environmental Protection. James Horton EIT is a senior engineer at the PA Department of Environmental Protection, where he provides technical assistance in the State Water Plan Section of the Compacts and Commissions Office as well as supporting the Drought Coordinator in all drought related activities. Mark Matlock is an Environmental Group Manager at the PA Department of Environmental Protection, where he oversees the State Water Plan Section of the Compacts and Commissions Office which contains the areas of drought management, Water Use Data System, and the State Water Plan.
Special Focus: Public Drinking Water - the State of the System & Contemporary Challenges in Public Drinking Water - Craig Palmer, Erie Water Works. Craig Palmer has worked in Erie County in the Water & Wastewater Utility Sector since 1998. In 2006, he became Senior Manager of Engineering Services for the Erie Water Works (EWW). He directs the operations of the Engineering Department and implements an aggressive Capital Improvements Program. He has overall responsibility for the Cross Connection Control Program, Service Area Expansion, Water Service Applications, Permits, facility and asset records, and a state-of-the-art Geographic Information System.
Special Focus: Rising to the Public Health Challenge by Using Wastewater to Aid in COVID-19 Detection - Dr. Howard Nadworny, Infectious Diseases specialist at Saint Vincent Hospital and COVID medical advisor to the Erie County Department of Health. Howard Nadworny is an Infectious Diseases specialist who has been in practice at Saint Vincent Hospital since 1984. He was the director of the Infection Control Program there for 30 years in addition to his clinical practice. He has been a member of Erie County Board of Health and was its chairman for 5 years. He currently volunteers as the COVID physician advisor to the Erie County Department of Health.
"Our Water, Our Future" - a PennFuture campaign - Sarah Bennett, PennFuture. Sarah Bennett is PennFuture’s Campaign Manager for Clean Water Advocacy in the Lake Erie Watershed of Pennsylvania. Sarah served as Chairperson of the Biology Department and Co-Director of the Environmental Science program and Sustainability Officer at Mercyhurst University. Sarah has organized many beach litter and illegal dump site clean ups and conducted a cigarette litter reduction project at Presque Isle State Park. She is an advisory committee member of Keep Erie County Beautiful.
Community Resilience Action Network of Erie Updates - Sara Stahlman, Pennsylvania Sea Grant. Sara Stahlman is the extension lead for Pennsylvania Sea Grant and vice chair of the Community Resilience Action Network of Erie (CRANE). She manages and coordinates statewide extension programs that protect coastal resources in focus areas such as climate change, water quality, and invasive species. She earned her bachelor’s in biology with a minor in psychology from Penn State Behrend, and her master’s degree in biology from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania.
Harmful Algal Bloom Monitoring - Updates - Amber Stillwell, Regional Science Consortium at Presque Isle State Park. Amber Stilwell is the Research Coordinator at the Regional Science Consortium. She has had extensive research experience gained throughout her academic and professional career focusing on Harmful Algal Blooms, bacteria monitoring, flow cytometry, and restoration projects on Presque Isle State Park. Amber is well equipped in public speaking and enjoys educating people of all ages about science and the environment.
ARCHIVED MEETING DETAILS
October 29, 2019 - "Understanding Water Levels of the Great Lakes”
On October 29, 2019 the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Pennsylvania Sea Grant hosted the fall 2019 Pennsylvania Lake Erie Environmental Forum (PA LEEF), at the Tom Ridge Education Center in Erie, PA. Presentations and discussions focused on the timely issue of water levels in Lake Erie and all Great Lakes.
High Lake Levels - Understanding Great Lakes Water Levels and the Impacts of Climate on Our System, Dr. Drew Gronewold, University of Michigan
High Lake Level Impacts in PA - Great Lakes Water Levels and Pennsylvania Coastal Impacts and Concerns, Donald J. Benczkowski, PA DEP Coastal Resource Management Program
Community and Coastal Resiliency - Coastal and Community Resiliency Planning, Dr. Richard Norton, University of Michigan
Upcoming Erie Resilience Study, Preparing Erie, PA for Extreme Weather – What to do and Where to Start, Joy Knapp, Community Resilience Action Network of Erie (CRANE)
Lake Erie Updates, Tim Bruno, Chief, Great Lakes Office, PA DEP
March 2019 - Agenda
"Invasive Species in the Great Lakes from the Front Lines"
On Tuesday, March 19, 2019 the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Pennsylvania Sea Grant hosted the spring 2019 Pennsylvania Lake Erie Environmental Forum (PA LEEF), at the Tom Ridge Education Center in Erie, PA. The discussions focused around the topic "Invasive Species in the Great Lakes from the Front Lines." Featured speakers included PA DEP Great Lakes Biologist, Dr. Jim Grazio, whose presentation focused on early detection of aquatic invasive species, Pennsylvania Sea Grant's Extension Leader, Sara Stahlman, whose presentation focused on responding to aquatic invasive species introductions in PA, Regional Science Consortium Executive Director, Dr. Jeanette Schnars, who focused on harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie, and PA DEP Great Lakes Office Chief, Tim Bruno, who provided a round-up of Great Lakes related activities and issues.
- Early Detection of Aquatic Invasive Species, Dr. Jim Grazio, Great Lakes Biologist, PA DEP
- Responding to Aquatic Invasive Species Introductions in PA, Sara Stahlman, Extension Leader, PA Sea Grant
- Harmful Algal Blooms in Lake Erie, Jeanette Schnars, Ph.D., Executive Director, Regional Science Consortium
- Great Lakes Round Up, Tim Bruno, Chief, Great Lakes Office, PA DEP
October 2018 Agenda I Watch the presentations on YouTube
On Tuesday, October 23, 2018 the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Pennsylvania Sea Grant hosted the fall 2018 Pennsylvania Lake Erie Environmental Forum (PA LEEF). Featured speakers included Penn State Behrend researcher, Dr. Anthony Foyle, who discussed “Coastal Bluff Erosion” and his work to increase the knowledge of Lake Erie bluff erosion, Pennsylvania Sea Grant's Research Director, Dr. Sean Rafferty, presented the PA Great lakes Water & Land Technical Resources Website & Web Mapping Application, Pennsylvania Sea Grant's Marti Martz and Anna McCartney led presentations and discussions about plastic pollution in our waters, Jill Bartolotta and Sue Bixler of Ohio Sea Grant examined the impacts of plastic pollution on our waters, the social science behind consumer behavior, and a regional opportunity to collaborate on a plastics outreach campaign, and Tim Bruno, Chief of the DEP Great Lakes Office provided updates on rulemaking regarding the Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Waterway, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, and the Pennsylvania State Water Plan.
- Coastal Bluff Erosion - Presented by Penn State Behrend researcher, Dr. Anthony Foyle
- PA Great Lakes Water & Land Technical Resources Website & Web Mapping Application - Presented by PA Sea Grant's Sean Rafferty
- The Enduring Impacts of Plastic - Presented by PA Sea Grant's Marti Martz and Anna McCartney
- Partners in Plastic Reduction - Presented by Ohio Sea Grant's Jill Bartolotta and Sue Bixler
- Great Lakes Updates - Presented by PA Department of Environmental Protection's Great Lakes Office Chief, Tim Bruno
March 2018 Agenda I Watch the Presentations on YouTube
This first meeting of 2018 provided updates on the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, and presentations on clean water infrastructure and asset management and inter-governmental cooperation.
Watch the presentations on YouTube
View PowerPoint Presentations:
• Asset Management & Inter-governmental Cooperation in Pennsylvania
Presented by Christine Weigle, Executive Director Lycoming County Water & Sewer Authority
• Joint Action Plan for Clean Water Infrastructure and Services in the Great Lakes Region
A product of the Great Lakes Commission Clean Water Infrastructure and Services Working Group Presented by Victoria Pebbles, Program Director
• Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement Update - Presented by Tim Bruno, Chief, Great Lakes Office, PA Department of Environmental Protection
April 18, 2016 Agenda I Summary I Attendee list
The initial meeting of PA LEEF covered a broad set of topics such as water diversion in the Great Lakes; how commissions and organizations Pennsylvania DEP is involved with address environmental issues; how Pennsylvania utilizes funding it receives from federal and state sources; new methods of online interaction with spatial data; projects that evaluate and monitor erosion along Pennsylvania’s shorelines; monitoring of the health of Lake Erie, and current nutrient reduction actions.
- An Introduction to Coastal Science in Pennsylvania- Jake Moore, PA DEP
- Assessing Pennsylvania's Lake Tributaries- Nate Irwin, PA DEP
- Great Lakes Governance: Compacts and Commissions- Tim Bruno, PA DEP
- Great Lakes Integrated Services: Gathering Information, and Maximizing Data and Web Access- Sean Rafferty, Pennsylvania Sea Grant
- The Dead Zone, or... The Role of Nutrients in the Cultural Eutrophication of Lake Erie- Jim Grazio, PA DEP
September 19, 2016 Agenda I Summary I Attendee list
Status of current drafts of the Pennsylvania Domestic Action Plan to meet Lake Erie phosphorus reduction targets and timelines for implementation. The Special Focus topic will be stormwater management and the roles municipalities play in protecting Lake Erie water quality. Presentations will introduce new methods available to municipalities to sustainably fund stormwater management responsibilities and infrastructure.
- Great Lakes Roundup- Tim Bruno, PA DEP
- Great Lakes Biology Updates- Jim Grazio, PA DEP
- Stormwater Fees? Why and How to Get Started- Steven R. Halmi, P.E., Deiss & Halmi Engineering, Inc.
- Pennsylvania Lake Erie Environmental Forum Meeting- Timothy S. Wachter, Esq., Knox McLaughlin Gornall & Sennett, P.C.
December 12, 2016 AgendaI Summary I Attendee list
This third meeting of PA LEEF covered a broad set of topics such as updates on the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement; the Great Lakes Basin Compact and Agreement; the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Pennsylvania State Water Plan. In addition, DEP staff highlighted upcoming grant opportunities and discussed the Pennsylvania Phosphorous Reduction Domestic Action Plan.
- Great Lakes Roundup- Tim Bruno, PA DEP
- PA VinES~ Sustainable Viticulture Practices for Concord and Niagara Production in the Lake Erie Region- Andy Muza, Penn State Extension
- VinES program- Working with Grape Growers in the Lake Erie Watershed- Tom McClure, Erie County Conservation District
- Energy from AG and Food Processing Waste- Tom Wilson, PE, Wilson Engineering Services, PC
April 24, 2017 Agenda / Summary
A number of updates were covered including Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement; Great Lakes Basin Compact Agreement; Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Update; and the State Water Plan update.
- Great Lakes Roundup - Tim Bruno, PA DEP
- 2017 E.coli Bacteria & Harmful Algae Bloom Monitoring - Amber Stillwell, Regional Science Consortium
- Small-scale Wastewater Treatment in Erie County - Ron Salisbury & Mike Chizewick, Erie County Dept. of Health