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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: February 5, 2020 02:46 PM
From: Representative P. Michael Sturla
To: All House members
Subject: The Pennsylvania Water Resource Act
Water is not only one of Pennsylvania’s most precious resources, it is also the only natural resource Pennsylvanians own—ownership which is granted by the Pennsylvania Constitution. Unfortunately, however, Pennsylvania has nearly 7,000 impaired waterways, more than any other state in the nation. Nutrients, sediment and erosion are many factors contributing to our water quality issues. Although, further compounding these matters is our crumbling water infrastructure, which is not only a danger to our environment, but also public health.

With the Commonwealth facing federal mandates to improve our water quality and municipalities facing unfunded MS4 mandates, Pennsylvanians are faced with paying tens of billions of dollars to overhaul these issues and maintain a resource that is rightfully theirs. Meanwhile, thousands of commercial industries—such as utility, bottled water and recreation industries--take or borrow water from the Commonwealth’s waterways as part of their business model and pay nothing for it.

In a time when water is becoming scarce in parts of the United States and our infrastructure is at a tipping point, we must find a way to reasonably fund our water improvement projects while protecting our natural resources. That is why we are introducing legislation that would charge extraordinary water users—those who withdraw more than 10,000 per day—a nominal per gallon fee for removing water from Pennsylvania waterways. Those who withdraw more than 10,000 gallons per day but return the water to its source would be charged less than those who remove it.

This plan would raise approximately $350 million annually, which would be restricted for grants and financing opportunities for municipalities to complete water improvement projects such as storm water management and the installation of riparian buffers—all of which will improve our water quality and quality of life without charging residential or agricultural users. Funds raised under this plan will stay “local,” meaning that all fees will stay in the watershed where they were generated.

As legislators, we are tasked with finding the most responsible ways to fund infrastructure projects while maintaining our natural resources and protecting public health. Please join my efforts to ensure clean local water for generations to come.