July 14, 2016
Clean Water Counts in Lehigh County
(HARRISBURG, PA)—Lehigh County has joined the growing list of Pennsylvania counties that have adopted a Clean Water Counts resolution, calling on state officials to make clean water a top priority for the Commonwealth.
"Our communities, our economy, and our health depend on clean water," said Harry Campbell, Chesapeake Bay Foundation's (CBF) Pennsylvania executive director. "We are excited about Lehigh County adopting the resolution. Support for Clean Water Counts now represents more than half of Pennsylvania's population."
"Lehigh County's water quality is critical to the well-being of our citizens," Commissioner Geoff Brace said after the resolution was adopted. "Pennsylvania's Growing Greener initiatives have had a significant impact on our natural resources, including water quality. I am happy the Board of Commissioners stated its support for this campaign 9-0."
CBF and the Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition launched the Clean Water Counts campaign in 2014, urging local governments across the Commonwealth to pass resolutions and join in calling on legislators to invest in local clean water programs and practices.
About 19,000 miles of Pennsylvania rivers and streams are polluted, and the Commonwealth has a Clean Water Blueprint to reduce nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment runoff that is damaging its waters.
In Lehigh County, more than 60 miles of waterways are damaged by agricultural runoff, and about 55 miles are polluted by urban/suburban runoff, according to the Department of Environmental Protection.
Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency reported that Pennsylvania is significantly behind in meeting its Blueprint goals of having 60 percent of the pollution-reduction practices necessary to restore water quality in place by 2017 and 100 percent in place by 2025.
The Commonwealth's commitment of resources, such as a Growing Greener initiative, is critical to the Blueprint's success.
"Never before has the Commonwealth faced an environment in which a Growing Greener III program was needed more," Growing Greener Coalition Executive Director Andrew Heath added. "Our water, our land, and our precious resources must be protected and restored. Now is the time to address these issues; pushing the can down the road is no longer an option."
Lehigh is the 30th county to adopt a Clean Water Counts resolution. The other 29 counties to sign on are Berks, Cambria, Cameron, Carbon, Centre, Cumberland, Dauphin, Erie, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Indiana, Jefferson, Lawrence, Luzerne, McKean, Montgomery, Montour, Northumberland, Philadelphia, Schuylkill, Somerset, Susquehanna, Venango, Warren, Washington, Westmoreland, Wyoming, and York.
By supporting the Clean Water Counts campaign, Lehigh and other counties are telling lawmakers in Harrisburg that the Commonwealth must get back on track toward meeting its clean water commitments. It's a legacy worth leaving for future generations.