(HARRISBURG, PA)—As Governor-elect Tom Wolf continues to announce his transition team, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) calls on him to ensure that his new administration makes clean water a priority and commits the needed resources to work to implement Pennsylvania's Clean Water Blueprint. Nearly one-quarter, almost 20,000 miles, of the rivers and streams that Pennsylvanians rely on for fishing, recreation, farming, and for drinking and household uses are polluted.
"The Bay watershed includes over half of the Commonwealth, and implementing the Blueprint, will ensure that Pennsylvania's local rivers and streams are restored to health, and will contribute to the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay," said CBF's Pennsylvania Executive Director Harry Campbell. "By cleaning up local waterways Governor-elect Wolf can improve both our quality of life and the economic vitality of the Commonwealth."
Unfortunately, a recent analysis by CBF of progress made by Pennsylvania shows that the Commonwealth's pollution-reduction activities need to be dramatically accelerated if we are to achieve 60 percent of water quality improvements by 2017, as scheduled, and to avoid regulatory "backstops" that could dramatically affect local communities and businesses.
A growing number of Pennsylvania counties have signed CBF's Clean Water Counts resolution, recognizing that reducing water pollution benefits all citizens of the Commonwealth by protecting drinking water quality, supporting local and regional economies, improving aquatic habitat, and ensuring we have numerous places to fish and swim.
CBF's economic analysis indicated that cleaning up the rivers and streams in Pennsylvania that flow to the Chesapeake will result in more than $6 billion in additional natural benefits each year to the Commonwealth. Governor-elect Wolf can show his commitment to clean water and economic growth by ensuring that his administration is positioned to help implement practices that reduce water pollution, particularly from agricultural sources and urban and suburban polluted runoff.
"To jump start restoration of local waterways, CBF calls on Governor-elect Wolf to establish a Clean Water Commission within the first 100 days of his administration," Campbell said. "The commission should be tasked with outlining a specific course of action to restore and protect all the lakes, rivers, and streams of Pennsylvania."
CBF also calls for the re-constitution of stakeholder workgroups to advise the Department of Environmental Protection on strategies to reduce pollution from agriculture, urban/suburban runoff, and sewage treatment plants. Those workgroups should include members from the private and public sector. In the past these workgroups served as vital communication hubs among state and federal agencies and those representing clean water advocates, farmers, businesses, communities, researchers, and others.
"We look forward to working with the Wolf Administration toward a goal of ensuring that all Pennsylvanians enjoy clean rivers and streams," Campbell said. "The Commonwealth's efforts to date are to be applauded, but there is much more work to do. Healthy families, strong communities, and a thriving Pennsylvania economy depend on clean water."