CBF Responds to Auditor General's Report on Bay Cleanup Efforts

(HARRISBURG, PA)—Harry Campbell, Pennsylvania Executive Director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) issued this statement following the public release of Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale's "Special Report on the Importance of Meeting Pennsylvania's Chesapeake Bay Nutrient Reduction Targets."

"CBF appreciates the Auditor General's commitment to protecting the Commonwealth's taxpayers while improving and protecting the water quality in Pennsylvania and the Chesapeake Bay watershed. This report accentuates the urgency that pollution reduction efforts be accelerated if Pennsylvania is to meet its clean water mandates outlined in Pennsylvania's Clean Water Blueprint. 

"While the report attempts to summarize 30 years of research and efforts by scientists, engineers, elected officials and others, it fails to recognize the complexity of cleaning up Pennsylvania's almost 19,000 miles of impaired rivers and streams. If there had been a 'silver bullet,' the commonwealth would have found and implemented it decades ago."

"In fact, while there may not be a 'silver bullet' solution to Pennsylvania's clean water crisis as the Auditor General states, there is a well-defined, scientifically supported, approved, and achievable blueprint for clean water.

"We are pleased that the Auditor General recognizes the impact of reducing pollution from agriculture. Seventy-five percent of pollution reduction is to come from agricultural sources. Pollution reduction practices like forested buffers, cover crops, and no-till farming are low-cost but highly effective. The Auditor General is also correct that compliance with current clean water regulations will be a key component to meeting the pollution milestones.

"Regarding manure treatment technologies and water quality, such technologies are a good manure management tool but are not primarily a pollution reduction tool. They do not offer a comprehensive solution for pollution reduction, primarily because manure constitutes only a portion of the total nutrient load to local streams, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay. Moreover, these systems do not reduce sediment pollution, the leading cause of impairment polluting Pennsylvania's streams.

"The report suggests that municipalities should consider the most cost-effective practices when upgrading sewage plants. CBF believes municipal leaders have been doing their due diligence in making treatment decisions and considering impacts to their ratepayers and taxpayers.

"Also as suggested in the report, the positive economic impact of Pennsylvania achieving its targeted pollution reduction goals and a cleaner Chesapeake Bay cannot be overstated. A peer-reviewed report produced for CBF documents a $6.2 billion return on investment if the Commonwealth achieves the Watershed Implementation Plan, with cleaner air and water, a more beautiful landscape, improved recreational opportunities, reduced flood risks and other benefits.

"Clean water counts. Saving the Bay and restoring water quality in the Commonwealth means purer drinking water, reduced flooding, better health, and a legacy for future generations."

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