|Posted:||April 19, 2017 09:30 AM|
|From:||Representative P. Michael Sturla|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||The Pennsylvania Water Resource Act|
|In the near future I will be reintroducing Former House Bill 2114 of 2015, The Pennsylvania Water Resource Act. This legislation 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.
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 by for-profit, commercial entities, the citizens of Pennsylvania deserve a return on that use. The proposed legislation 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. An average of 5.6 billion gallons of water are reported as used every day in the Commonwealth. Approximately 1.4 billion of the 5.6 billion gallons are used for agricultural uses and public water supply, which my legislation would exempt from the fee. The remaining 4.2 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For water withdrawn and subsequently returned to the water source, a water resource fee of 1/100th of a cent per gallon ($0.0001) for water withdrawals greater than 10,000 gallons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 For water withdrawn and consumed (not returned to the water source), a water resource fee of 1/10th of one cent per gallon ($0.001) for water consumption greater than 10,000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.
Based on current consumption and usage rates the water resource fee would generate approximately $250 million annually. Currently, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission and the Delaware River Basin Commission both collect fees for water withdrawals. Under my legislation these fees would remain in place, but would be deducted from the water resource fee owed by a consumer.
The proceeds allocated under the Pennsylvania Water Resource Act would be restricted to funding water-related projects within the six major watersheds in the state, distributed proportionately based on where the fees are generated. This would allow projects to be tailored to each watershed’s unique needs such as wastewater plant upgrades, storm water runoff, stream buffers, fencing and more. The proceeds would be allocated as follows:
$30 million for the Department of Environmental Protection.
$25 million for the Department of Conservation & Natural Resources.
$5 million for the Department of Agriculture.
$5 million for the Fish & Boat Commission.
The remaining proceeds would be allocated to PENNVEST for water projects in the watersheds. PENNVEST will also have the option to use some or all of the proceeds to pay debt service on a bond issue of up to $3 billion, allocating the funding for water-related projects proportionality based on where fees are generated.
This bill 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. Please join me in co-sponsoring this important piece of legislation.
Introduced as HB20