Thursday, February 29, 2024

Choose Clean Water Coalition, Partners Release Newest PA Clean Water Legislative Briefing Book - Water Quality Issues, Legislative & Funding Solutions

On February 22, the
Choose Clean Water Coalition, Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed and PennFuture released the 2024-25 Pennsylvania Clean Water Legislative Briefing Book, a comprehensive guide to protecting and restoring Pennsylvania's rivers and streams.

The Briefing Book examines a wide array of issues plaguing the Keystone State's waterways and provides a variety of solutions and investments to leave a legacy of clean water to future generations. 

This resource is particularly relevant given that while Pennsylvania has the highest density of stream miles per acre of any state in the continental United States, one-third of stream miles are listed as impaired and unsafe for their intended use. 

Now in its third edition, the Briefing Book is designed as a tool to educate state legislators, media, and the general public on the most urgent clean water needs in the Commonwealth. 

Whether focused on safe drinking water, supporting farmers, or addressing pollution from abandoned mines, each of the legislative requests in the book highlights a return on investment in one of our most precious resources—our rivers and streams.

With production made possible by the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds, the briefing book was spearheaded by the Choose Clean Water Coalition, Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed, and PennFuture. In response to its release, their respective leaders issued the following statements:

Choose Clean Water Coalition Director Kristin Reilly said: "We are thrilled to join our many partners in releasing the Pennsylvania Clean Water Legislative Briefing Book. This critical resource will equip clean water advocates to effectively advocate for the protection and restoration of the Keystone State's rivers and streams.

"The Commonwealth's 86,000 miles of waterways provide critical resources to hundreds of communities and return billions of dollars in economic value to small businesses, agriculture, recreation, tourism industries, and tax revenues. While these waterways face several threats, there are pragmatic, tangible solutions at hand.

"We encourage state legislators to use this briefing book to enact policies and support investments that will provide Pennsylvanians with the gift that keeps on giving—clean water."

Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed Director Kelly Knutson said:  "The Delaware River Watershed stands as a vital lifeline, providing clean drinking water to more than 14.2 million individuals, with 5.7 million residents relying on its waters in Pennsylvania alone. 

“This expansive basin not only sustains a renowned trout fishery but also serves as a habitat for diverse wildlife, including striped bass, the endangered Shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon, and bald eagles. 

"The Pennsylvania Clean Water Legislative Briefing Book is an excellent tool and resource, effectively highlighting the urgency of clean water investments in PA. 

“This includes advocating for the establishment of a dedicated fund for watershed restoration. 

“Furthermore, it underscores the importance of enhancing funding for key programs like the Environmental Stewardship Fund and the Keystone Recreation, Parks & Conservation Fund, crucial for addressing challenges such as flooding and pollution." 

PennFuture President and CEO Patrick McDonnell said: "Pennsylvanians enjoy access to some of the nation's most diverse, rare, and beautiful aquatic ecosystems. 

“As trustees of our public natural resources under Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, we expect our elected officials to carefully consider policies that will ensure clean water for both current and future generations. 

“This third edition of the Pennsylvania Clean Water Legislative Briefing Book equips state legislators with comprehensive insights into the challenges surrounding clean water and provides policy solutions aimed at restoring and maintaining pristine water quality throughout Pennsylvania.

“For example, this book underscores the need for reliable and long-term funding for the Clean Streams Fund and Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program (ACAP), which both play a critical role in implementing a statewide clean water strategy that safeguards our waterways, farms, trails, parks, and green spaces."

Chapter Topics Include

-- Description Of Opportunities, Problems In Each Of PA’s Major Watersheds Statewide

     -- Delaware River

     -- Potomac and Susquehanna Rivers

     -- Ohio River

     -- Genesee River and Lake Erie

-- Legislative Priorities

     -- Establish a Dedicated Fund For Watershed Restoration

     -- New, Sustainable Funding for Environmental Stewardship, Keystone Fund

     -- Distribute Oil & Gas Lease Fund Payment To Environmental Stewardship Fund

     -- Pay Environmental Stewardship Fund Debt Service From General Fund

     -- Provide Adequate Funding for State Resource Agencies

     -- Restore Fair Share Funding to River Basin Commissions

     -- Support Game and Fish & Boat Commissions

-- Important Issues

     -- Investing in the Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program

     -- Cleaning Up Abandoned Mine Lands

     -- Prioritizing Green Stormwater Infrastructure

     -- Advancing Environmental Justice

     -- Combatting Combined Sewer Overflows

     -- Addressing Lead In School Drinking Water

     -- Prioritizing Equity In Public Drinking and Wastewater Systems

Click Here to download the PA Legislative Briefing Book.

The Choose Clean Water Coalition is an organization that harnesses the collective power of more than 290 local, state, regional, and national groups to advocate for clean rivers and streams in all communities in the Chesapeake region.

The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed protects and restores the land and waters in the Delaware River Basin. We amplify the collective power of 175+ member organizations and other stakeholders as we advocate for a healthy and protected watershed with an inclusive, unified voice. 

The Coalition convenes member and non-member organizations, builds capacity, coordinates communications, and advances policy at the federal and state levels.

PennFuture is the independent, nonpartisan voice leading the transition to a clean energy economy in Pennsylvania and beyond. We are protecting our air, water and land, and empowering citizens to build sustainable communities for future generations.

[Posted: February 29, 2024]  PA Environment Digest

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