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Encouraging customers to 'go green' pays off

Nearly 2,000 trees will be planted across Pennsylvania, thanks to a promise by Pennsylvania American Water in honor of Earth Day.

SCRANTON, Pa. — At Sweeney's Beach along the Lackawanna River, it is hard to imagine you are only about a half mile from Scranton's downtown area.

Bernie McGurl, executive director of the Lackawanna River Conservation Association, likes it that way. The nonprofit promotes the restoration and conservation of the Lackawanna River and its watershed.

"We're at the top of the watershed for the Chesapeake Bay. So what we do up here has an effect all the way downstream, so if we can make the water quality coming out of the Lackawanna River better, that means we're doing our job, and we're helping the bay," McGurl said.

That is why the LRCA works with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to constantly plant new trees.

This past April, in honor of Earth Day, Pennsylvania American Water got involved, too, promising to donate $10 for every customer who switched to paperless billing.

"The result of our initiative ended up with 2,000 customers going paperless, reducing their carbon footprint, which means we donated nearly $20,000 to the 10 Million Trees program," said Susan Turcmanovich, Pennsylvania American Water.

It was 1,947 customers, to be exact. So that is how many trees Chesapeake Bay Foundation's 10 Million Trees program will plant here in Pennsylvania. And organizations like the LRCA will help with the planting.

"The roots of trees and the soil are like huge sponges, so when it rains, they take that water in and help to slow down the runoff and to help get the water that's running off into the river and keeping it clean," McGurl explained.

Officials with Pennsylvania American Water say they are thrilled with the number of customers who participated, and they hope to do the same program next April.

"Riparian zones and tree buffers in our streams and watersheds are such a benefit to the area to help stabilize the streambanks and improve our water quality, and the fact that we can work with our customers to improve those areas is just a tremendous outcome," Turcmanovich said.

Even though the program has ended, it is never too late to reduce your carbon footprint. Find out how to switch to paperless billing by clicking here.

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