(HARRISBURG, PA)—Harry Campbell, executive director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) in Pennsylvania, issued this statement in support of the concept of a water use fee that would go toward reducing pollution in the Commonwealth's rivers and streams.
The bipartisan Pennsylvania members of the Chesapeake Bay Commission wrote to legislators in the state Senate and House, proposing a dedicated Clean Water Fund for Pennsylvania. Supporters indicate that the proposed fee on water withdrawals that exceed 10,000 gallons per day, would apply most often to large-scale commercial operations and would generate an estimated $245 million annually for clean water efforts.
Mr. Campbell said:
"While details of such a fee require more study, CBF sees merit in having an equitable water use fee with revenue directed toward proven and cost-effective measures that reduce pollution and restore our waterways. This withdrawal fee is also not a burden on individual taxpayers.
"According to the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), roughly 19,000 miles of Pennsylvania's rivers and streams are damaged by pollution. DEP has also stated that Pennsylvania will not meet its goal of having 60 percent of pollution reduction practices in place by the end of 2017. For the Commonwealth to have 100 percent of practices in place by 2025, as it committed to in its Clean Water Blueprint, Pennsylvania must make a greater investment of financial and technical resources.
"Pennsylvania's clean water strategy includes a framework for success, but lacks sustainable funding streams.
"Revenue generated by a water use fee could elevate and accelerate Pennsylvania's contributions to the improved health of the Chesapeake Bay, as noted in CBF's latest State of the Bay report. While there is good news, work in Pennsylvania is far from finished.
"A water use fee like the one suggested by Bay Commission members, dedicated to cleaning up our polluted waterways, will help improve and protect the health and economic well-being of every Pennsylvanian."
In their letter, Commission members referred to the report "Water Rich & Water Wise," which describes the extent of the impact and potential solutions.