New Plan Outlines Statewide, Regional Priorities to Balance Competing Demands for Water

March 26, 2009

First Update to State Water Plan in 26 Years Provides Recommendations to Protect Water Quality, Quantity in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa., March 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — As demand grows for Pennsylvania’s water resources, the commonwealth is offering comprehensive recommendations to help policymakers balance the demands of competing interests while protecting the quality and supply of water for residents and businesses, Environmental Protection acting Secretary John Hanger said today as he signed the new state water plan.

The plan was approved and adopted by Hanger at the recommendation of the Statewide Water Resources Committee at a ceremony in Harrisburg. Hanger was joined by representatives of the regional and statewide committees that created the plan following five years of public meetings throughout the state.

“The state water plan represents years of exhaustive and difficult work, and provides Pennsylvanians with a vision, goals and recommendations for meeting the challenges of sustainable water use over the next 15 years,” Hanger said. “Each region came to the table with its own priorities — protecting drinking water supplies, creating jobs, avoiding devastating floods, reducing mine drainage, and ensuring well thought out plans for how to use the land–but the statewide committee was able to craft a document that takes into account these many conflicting priorities and demands.”

The updated state water plan — the first since 1983 — was required under Act 220 of 2002 that created a Statewide Water Resource Committee and six regional water resource committees tasked with compiling and reviewing water-use data, taking public comment, identifying where existing and potential water-use conflicts and water quality issues may occur, and creating recommendations for the state water plan.

The plan consists of inventories of water availability, an assessment of current and future water demands and trends, assessments of resource management alternatives, and proposed methods of implementing recommended actions. It also analyzes problems and needs associated with specific water resource usage such as navigation, stormwater management and flood control.

Key components of the state water plan include:

  • An innovative Water Use Analysis Tool to determine where water demands may exceed available water supply. The tool now is being emulated in other states and being considered for use in other countries;
  • A Statewide and Regional Atlas to illustrate regional trends using maps, charts, pictures and text descriptions;
  • Water Plan Principles Document that includes policies, priorities and legislative recommendations and other suggestions to protect and enhance Pennsylvania’s water resources;
  • Registration and reporting regulations for large water users; and
  • Guidelines for identification of critical water planning areas.

The regional committees, representing each major river basin, included nearly 140 representatives from a wide variety of organizations representing business and industry, agriculture, local government, water and wastewater authorities, and environmental interests.

Committees conducted public hearings statewide beginning in October 2003 and presented final regional reports to the statewide committee.

The Statewide Water Resources Committee consisted of representatives of the General Assembly, heads of state agencies and state river basin commissions, and one member from each regional committee. The statewide committee combined and compiled input from the regional committees to create the new state water plan that focuses on broad issues common to all areas of the state.

“The state water plan is the culmination of time, energy and resources from countless individuals who, for the past five years, have been collecting and reviewing complex data, setting water management goals and priorities, and recommending specific actions for the future of water resources,” Hanger said. “We have set a baseline of sound science, but this is only the beginning of the process. We are now entering the next phase of the plan, which will involve action on the part of state agencies and the General Assembly to implement the plan’s recommendations.”

To view the state water plan, the Pennsylvania Water Atlas and other related documents, visit www.depweb.state.pa.us, then select “State Water Plan” under the Hot Topics heading.

    CONTACT: Tom Rathbun
    (717) 787-1323

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Source: newswire

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