PennFuture: coordinated state effort essential for Chesapeake Bay watershed cleanup

Jan 21, 2016, 14:43 ET from PennFuture

HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 21, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- PennFuture praised action taken by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), and the Department of Agriculture to clean up the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

In a webinar today, the state announced a new multi-agency strategy for improving local water quality that will ultimately lead to a clean Chesapeake Bay.

"Flowing through New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, the Susquehanna provides half of the fresh water to the Chesapeake Bay," said Jacquelyn Bonomo, vice president and COO of PennFuture. "Polluted runoff from urban and agricultural areas, along with wastewater, degrades water quality here and downstream. The state has a key role to play in the health of the Chesapeake Bay."

"We support this comprehensive state effort to clean up our local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay and comply with federal regulations, but comprehensive data, financial support, and change at the local level is essential to success," added Bonomo. "Without clear guidance to local conservation districts, farms, and municipal governments, the clean-up goals simply cannot be met."

In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued nutrient and sediment pollution limits to restore water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Bay states crafted plans for implementation with the goal of a clean Bay by 2025, and 60 percent progress by 2017 measured in two year increments. That effort was challenged in court by the Farm Bureau and allies, but failed in federal District Court and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

This week, PennFuture joined other state and national advocacy organizations in filing briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court requesting that the Court not review the EPA's authority and let lower court rulings stand. 

"Pennsylvania has been on the wrong track and likely to fall short of federal goals," said Bonomo. "This coordinated and collaborative effort is promising, but a redoubling of efforts and follow through on implementation and compliance is necessary to provide clean water – a fundamental right for all citizens."

"Improving water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed isn't just an environmental imperative to comply with federal regulations, it will positively impact fish, plant and wildlife species; ensure safe drinking water; and preserve swimming, fishing, boating and recreation for all Pennsylvanians," added Bonomo. "Meeting our 2017 targets will help us achieve the triple bottom line of social, environmental, and financial prosperity."

PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization founded in 1998 with offices in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Wilkes-Barre. The organization's activities include litigating cases before regulatory bodies and in local, state, and federal courts; advocating and advancing legislative action on a state and federal level; public education; and assisting citizens in public advocacy.

Contact: Lauren Fraley, fraley@pennfuture.org
office: 412-456-2372 mobile: 724-747-0692

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SOURCE PennFuture