Palestinian Authority farmers and municipalities pay for lawmakers’ inaction on drinking water


Pennsylvania’s legislative leaders find themselves at the proverbial crossing of the river – either invest in our farms, streams and green spaces to reduce water pollution now, or face harsher realities not just of a dirtier water, but also federal regulators from the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

On April 18, the EPA announced that it would crack down on Pennsylvania through more statewide inspections and enforcement actions on our farms and local governments to reduce environmental pollution. water if the commonwealth does not act substantially, and now, to reduce water pollution here.

It comes in response to state officials’ latest failure to fulfill their duty to protect our waterways – Pennsylvania’s recent plan to cut pollution in the Susquehanna and Potomac River Basin failed by 9.7 million. of books. The state has 90 days — until July 17 — to fix its shortcomings or more farms, local governments and businesses could face more federal actions, including costlier factory upgrades wastewater treatment systems, more stringent Clean Water Act requirements on farms, developments, and municipalities, among others.

There isn’t a farmer or a city official who wants this, so how did we get here? The short answer – all water flows downstream.

Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River and its tributaries are an important part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. And our farms and cities are sending so much pollution runoff, like nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment, into the Chesapeake Bay that it’s poisoning and destroying a nationally important ecosystem of wildlife, businesses and users. recreational. In 2010, Pennsylvania, along with five other states and the District of Columbia, voluntarily entered into an agreement to clean up local waters and the Chesapeake Bay by the end of 2025. This commitment was reaffirmed in 2014 when jurisdictions have signed an agreement committing to achieving the targets on time. Since entering into this agreement, Pennsylvania has failed to meet all but one of its interim goals or provide sufficient evidence that the state intends to meet its goals by 2025. The only exception is that Pennsylvania’s largest wastewater treatment plants in the watershed have made the necessary investments to significantly reduce phosphorus pollution. Everything else – especially agricultural runoff – stays far behind where it needs to be.

After:Killing the Chesapeake: Report says it will cost $521 million a year to save the bay

To his credit, state officials have in recent years improved county planning and coordination efforts, including county-level plans developed locally by community leaders.

However, year after year, these local and county leaders have been left dry by the General Assembly, which has repeatedly failed to provide the resources and policies necessary to clean up our waterways. Last year, PennFuture published Underfunded and Polluted: Solutions to Fund Clean Water in Pennsylvania and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, which highlighted a $325 million annual funding gap and the policies needed to address it.

All hope is not lost. There are three bills with broad bipartisan support that the General Assembly could pass by July 17 to show Pennsylvania is serious about solving its water pollution problems.

The Clean Streams Fund (CSF) – SB 832 & HB 1901 – would direct $250 million from the US bailout and create Pennsylvania’s first program dedicated solely to protecting and improving water. The CSF would create important new programs with bipartisan support, such as the Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program and the Municipal Stormwater Assistance Program. The CSF addresses the three main sources of water pollution in Pennsylvania: acid mine drainage, agriculture, and stormwater runoff.

Growing Greener III – SB 525 & HB 2020 – proposes to take $500 million from the US bailout to reinvigorate a grassroots, bipartisan conservation program that was established in 1999 under Governor Tom Ridge, approved in public referendums in 2005 , and continues to receive overwhelming public support today. This program benefits Pennsylvanians through flood protection and waterway enhancement, clearance of abandoned mines, preservation of farmland, and parks and recreation opportunities.

The Lawn Fertilizer Bill – SB 251 – would modernize fertilizer regulations and introduce standards to the lawn care industry. A new certification program would ensure that professionals are using the correct fertilizer application rates and give consumers confidence that their lawns are cared for by trained professionals delivering professional-grade services.

Pennsylvania’s political leaders have ignored water pollution issues for too long and we are now facing stiff penalties from federal regulators if we don’t get our act together. Ignoring this any longer will only harm our farmers, small towns and public health. The Legislature can make a down payment on its $325 million funding hole by passing the bipartisan legislation sitting on its desk. The future dynamism of our water, our agriculture and our economy is at stake.

Renee Reber is the Watershed Advocacy Campaign Director for PennFuture, an environmental advocacy organization with 5 offices across Pennsylvania.


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