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Budget Plan Fails to Meet PA Clean Water Needs

Pennsylvania has fallen far behind other states in cleaning up water flowing into Chesapeake Bay. (Jakec/Wikimedia Commons)
Pennsylvania has fallen far behind other states in cleaning up water flowing into Chesapeake Bay. (Jakec/Wikimedia Commons)
February 8, 2017

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Clean-water advocates say Gov. Tom Wolf's proposed $32.3 billion state budget doesn't have the funds to meet the state's critical clean-water commitments. The Department of Environmental Protection has already said Pennsylvania won't meet the pollution-reduction goals in its Clean Water Blueprint.

Harry Campbell, executive director of the Pennsylvania office of the Chesapeake Bay, says the state is required to have practices in place to reduce pollution by 60 percent by the end of this year.

"Roughly 19,000 miles of Pennsylvania's rivers and streams are damaged by pollution," he said. "And unfortunately, this budget does not adequately address or invest in clean water, across the Commonwealth."

Campbell says Pennsylvania will only be successful with sustainable investments in the right places and on the right practices. And he points out that a 2014 economic study showed putting money into cleaning up the waterways is an investment pays off.

"There would be roughly $6.2 billion in natural benefits that would come to Pennsylvanians if we fully implemented the Clean Water Blueprint," he added.

Those benefits would include reduced flooding and increased farm productivity.

And Campbell notes that clean water is more than an immediate environmental and economic benefit - it is a legacy for future generations.

"The investments that we as a Commonwealth make, and the individual decisions that we make, have a direct impact on not only clean water, but our quality of life here in the Commonwealth," he explained.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA