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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: November 10, 2015 02:14 PM
From: Representative P. Michael Sturla
To: All House members
Subject: Pennsylvania Water Resource Act
In the near future I will be introducing legislation that will enact a water resource fee for major water withdrawals in the Commonwealth. The revenues generated would be used to fund water related programs in the Commonwealth as well as fund a water related Growing Greener III bond issue for Pennsylvania projects.

The Pennsylvania Constitution clearly states that public natural resources are owned by the citizens of the Commonwealth. Article I, Section 27 reads as follows, "Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people." When these resources are used for for-profit commercial purposes, the citizens of Pennsylvania deserve a return on that use. The proposed Pennsylvania Water Resource Act would include a fee which would allow the Commonwealth to make certain that water resources are available for present and future use and guarantee that the revenue necessary to fund clean water projects and programs is available from a dedicated, recurring source.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection already requires reporting of water withdrawals exceeding an average of 10,000 gallons per day in any 30 day period. Over 6.3 billion gallons of water are reported as used every day in the Commonwealth. Approximately 1.4 billion of the 6.3 billion gallons are used for agricultural uses and public water supply, which my legislation would exempt from the fee. The remaining 4.9 billion gallons per day would be subject to the water resource fee within the Pennsylvania Water Resource Act.

For water withdrawn and subsequently returned to the water source, a water resource fee of 1/100th of a cent per gallon ($0.0001) for water withdrawals greater than 10,000 gallons per day for non-agricultural, non-public or non-municipal uses would be assessed. For water withdrawn and consumed and not returned to the water source, a water resource fee of 1/10th of one cent per gallon ($0.001) for water consumption greater than 10,000 gallons per day for non-agricultural, non-public and non-municipal uses would be assessed.

Currently the Susquehanna River Basin Commission and the Delaware River Basin Commission both collect fees for water withdrawals, which generate $3.5 million and $3.3 million respectively. Under my legislation, these fees would remain in place, but would be deducted from the water resource fee owed by a consumer.

This represents a strong step forward in providing the funding needed for clean water programs and projects in the state while protecting the streams and rivers of Pennsylvania for generations to come. Based on current consumption and usage rates and allowing for the SRBC and DRBC deductions, the water resource fee would generate approximately $375 million annually.

The revenue from the fee in the Pennsylvania Water Resource Act would be used to pay debt service on a $3 billion Growing Greener III bond issue ($180 million a year) dedicated to funding water related projects within one of the 6 major watersheds in the state (Delaware, Susquehanna, Ohio, Potomac, Erie and Genesee) from where the fees were generated. This would allow projects to be tailored to each watershed’s needs (wastewater plant upgrades, storm water runoff, stream buffers, fencing, etc.). The remaining $195 million a year would be used to fund water related programs and agencies in the state budget. (Fish and Boat, DEP, DCNR, etc.)

Please join me in co-sponsoring this important piece of legislation.

Introduced as HB2114