(HARRISBURG, PA)—The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) applauds the Somerset County commissioners, for adopting a Clean Water Counts resolution, calling on state officials to make clean water a top priority for the Commonwealth.
"Water is our greatest natural resource, one that we cannot take for granted," said John Vatavuk, chair of the Somerset County Board of Commissioners. "Supporting this campaign supports our families, our farmers, our children, and our communities. Clean water is a legacy we must leave behind for all future generations."
CBF and the Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition launched the Clean Water Counts campaign last summer, urging local governments across the Commonwealth to pass resolutions and join in calling on Harrisburg to invest in local clean water programs and practices.
Somerset is the 16th county to adopt a Clean Water Counts resolution, meaning the effort now represents one-third of Pennsylvania's population. The other 15 counties to sign on are Berks, Cumberland, Erie, Fayette, Greene, Jefferson, Luzerne, Northumberland, Philadelphia, Schuylkill, Venango, Washington, Westmoreland, Wyoming, and York.
About 19,000 miles of Pennsylvania waters are impaired. Agriculture is the largest source of pollution to the Commonwealth's streams and rivers. That pollution occurs when nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment run off farm fields into local waterways and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. The second leading cause of pollution in Pennsylvania is acid mine drainage from the legacy of coal mining in parts of the state.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, there are 462 miles of impaired waterways in Somerset County. About 260 of those miles are polluted by abandoned mine drainage. Just over 100 additional miles of waterways in Somerset County are degraded by agriculture.
"Healthy families, strong communities and a thriving Pennsylvania economy depend on clean water, said Harry Campbell, CBF's Pennsylvania executive director. "We applaud and thank the commissioners in Somerset and the other counties, for publicly voicing their support for clean water in the Keystone State. Voices for clean water continue to grow stronger."
"We hope Clean Water Counts continues to build momentum," Growing Greener Coalition Executive Director Andrew Heath added. "The southwestern region is extremely important to motivating greater leadership from Harrisburg on clean water issues and we look forward to working with Indiana, Cambria, and Bedford counties in adopting resolutions."
CBF recently expanded the Clean Water Counts campaign by inviting organizations, groups, and businesses from across the Commonwealth to declare their support for making clean water a priority in Pennsylvania. In a short period of time, over 85 statewide and regional organizations, conservancies, watershed alliances, and conservation districts have signed on.
By supporting the Clean Water Counts campaign, Somerset and other counties and organizations are telling lawmakers in Harrisburg that clean water is integral to Pennsylvania's economy, communities, and human health. It's a legacy worth leaving future generations.
For information about the campaign go to cbf.org/PAforCleanWater