Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Rep. Sturla To Announce Water Use Fee Bill June 6 To Support Water Programs

Rep. Mike Sturla (D-Lancaster), who represents Pennsylvania on the Chesapeake Bay Commission, will hold a press conference on June 6 at 10:30 a.m. on the Capitol steps in Harrisburg to announce House Bill 2114 (not yet online) that could generate $245 million annually from a water resource use fee on major water withdrawals in Pennsylvania.
Over 5.9 billion gallons of water are reported as used every day in the Commonwealth. Under the state constitution, Pennsylvanians own this water that is currently being used free of charge.
Rep. Sturla’s legislation would use this revenue to fund state water-related programs, major watersheds, and an optional $3 billion Growing Greener bond.
Water Fee Study Resolution
Last week, Rep. Garth Everett (R-Lycoming), who also represents Pennsylvania on the Chesapeake Bay Commission, introduced a bipartisan resolution-- House Resolution 908-- calling for a study of a new water use fee to fund water quality improvement programs.
“As a member of the Pennsylvania Delegation of the Chesapeake Bay Commission and the Environmental Resources & Energy, Game & Fisheries and Appropriations Committees, I am acutely aware of the challenges facing our water resources and water quality here in Pennsylvania and the need to come up with innovative funding mechanisms to reinvest in our land and water and the programs and agencies charged with their stewardship,” said Rep. Everett.
Rep. Everett’s resolution directs the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a study of the establishment, implementation, and administration of fees for the consumptive use and the use and return of “waters of the Commonwealth” by industrial and commercial users.
The study would look at the establishment of both a royalty fee for the consumptive use of water and a royalty fee for water used and returned.  It would examine proposed and successful attempts of other states to assess fees for the use of water; identify the uses to which the fees would apply; estimate the revenue generating potential of the fees; and evaluate how to assess, collect, and manage the proceeds of the royalty fees.
The study would also make recommendations on creating a new Water Quality Improvement Fund and on how the proceeds of the fees might be apportioned among the major watersheds in the Commonwealth and the departments and agencies involved in water quality efforts in Pennsylvania.  
Examples might be funding for Growing Greener, water quality improvements to meet our Chesapeake Bay and other TMDL requirements and cleanup of our many impaired streams.
The resolution was referred to the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee for consideration.
Related Story:
Rep. Everett: Resolution For Water use Fee Study To Fund Water Quality Improvements

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