HARRISBURG, October 25, 2023 – State Senator Katie Muth (D-Chester/Montgomery/Berks), chair of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Policy Committee, today joined Senator Lindsey Williams (D-Allegheny) and Senator Maria Collett (D-Montgomery) to co-host a public hearing on water, sewer, and stormwater infrastructure issues facing Pennsylvania communities.
The hearing, held at the Pennsylvania State Capitol, featured three panels of testimony that included representatives from state agencies, environmental experts, and local stormwater management professionals.
“The climate crisis is such a real and present danger and challenge for everything – and that includes our aging infrastructure and the ability of our municipalities to manage stormwater. We need to start planning now to address climate change, to improve our infrastructure, and to protect public health and our environment,” Muth said. “I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues and our state Departments to ensure that we find ways to support our municipalities and to address our aging water, sewer, and stormwater infrastructure across the Commonwealth.”
The Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment released earlier this year by the EPA to determine the financial needs of the nation’s drinking water infrastructure over the next 20 years identified that Pennsylvania needs $24.3 billion over the next two decades to ensure communities have clean drinking water.
“One of the top issues I hear about from constituents and municipalities is the importance of funding water, sewer, and stormwater infrastructure,” Williams said. “That’s why I joined my co-hosts today in co-sponsoring legislation last year that resulted in $320 million in American Rescue Plan money allocated for projects like these. But over a billion dollars in infrastructure projects had to be turned away – demonstrating that the need is dire in Pennsylvania to fund projects that protect the health, safety, and welfare of residents across the Commonwealth. I look forward to taking what we learned today and working to find more ways to fund these critical projects.”
Last session, Senator Lindsey Williams, Senator Collett and Senator Muth introduced Senate Bill 916. The bill, which was enacted as part of the state budget, allocated $320 million of the Commonwealth’s share of the State Fiscal Relief Fund authorized through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) for clean water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure projects.
“With decades of PFAS contamination from firefighting foams used on local military bases, families in my district are acutely aware of the challenges our water systems can face – and the impacts pollutants can have on our health and pocketbooks,” said Senator Collett. “With the influx of federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan funds headed our way, we can expect additional support for needed infrastructure improvements, but Pennsylvania will need to prioritize these types of investments if we want to uphold our constituents’ constitutional rights to clean air and pure water. I appreciated the expert testimony shared today and look forward to working with Chairwoman Muth and Senator Lindsey Williams to improve the long-term viability of our water, wastewater, and stormwater systems.”
This session, the legislators indicated plans to introduce companion legislation to House Bill 1275 introduced by state Rep. Joe Webster. The bill would provide for a minimum 100-foot riparian buffer along each side of a surface body of water, with a minimum 300-foot buffer for streams that have been designated as High Quality or Exceptional Value. Riparian buffers serve as an effective natural filter and provide for more stabilized stream banks to reduce erosion and flooding.
“Effectively managing our water, sewer, and stormwater infrastructure is a challenge for communities across the Commonwealth. However, it is especially pronounced in our region, as Chester, Montgomery, Bucks, and Delaware Counties are among the top in Pennsylvania for percentages of impaired streams,” added state Senator Carolyn Comitta, Minority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. “I want to thank Senators Muth, Williams, and Collett for hosting an informative policy hearing. I look forward to working together to implement solutions, like stronger clean water standards, regulations, and codes, as well as restoring riparian buffers, to better protect our public health and environmental health.”
Participants in the hearing included Bevin Buchheister, Deputy Secretary for Water Programs, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection; Robert Boos, Executive Director, PENNVEST; Kristen Bowman Kavanagh, Deputy Executive Director, Delaware River Basin Commission; David Masur, Executive Director, PennEnvironment; Chelsea Weyant, Stormwater Coordinator, Blair County Conservation District; and Michelle Adams, PA LEED AP, Water Resources Engineer.
All submitted testimony from the policy hearing and the full video is available at tSenatorMuth.com/Policy
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