On Wednesday the joint Senate–House Legislative Budget and Finance Committee released a new report—Feasibility of Establishing A Water Use Fee In Pennsylvania —that lays the factual groundwork for discussing one funding option Pennsylvania members of the Chesapeake Bay Commission pointed to as possible source of funding for a new Pennsylvania Clean Water Fund. The report outlines the basic facts of consumptive and non-consumptive water uses in Pennsylvania as of 2015 by industry, business, agricultural, and water supply sectors.
Pennsylvania withdrew 25.8 trillion gallons of water from surface and groundwater sources across 11 user sectors in 2015. Three of those sectors—hydroelectric power, thermo-electric power, and public water supplies—accounted for 98.4 percent of total water withdrawals. Hydroelectric power alone accounted for 92 percent of total water withdrawals. Excluding hydroelectric power, the three largest sectors were thermoelectric power, public water supplies, and industrial use. These three account for 92 percent of the remaining total water withdrawals.
The report also includes information on water withdrawals by county, sector, and ground or surface water. It provides calculations of what sector’s fees would be if there was a desire to raise $100, $300, or $500 million annually with no exemptions
Calculations were also done on the fee cost in House Bill 20 (Sturla, D–Lancaster) as another possible scenario.
Click here for a copy of the full 203-page report.
Proposed Pennsylvania Clean Water Fund
On January 24, 2017, all five Pennsylvania Senate and House members on the Chesapeake Bay Commission wrote to all members of the Senate and House to outline the need to address the state’s water pollution cleanup problems and propose a potential solution: a dedicated clean water fund for Pennsylvania.
The letter proposes, as one solution, a water-use fee to finance Pennsylvania’s water pollution cleanup effort that would raise an estimated $245 million. It notes that water fee proposals were introduced in the 2015-16 session—Senate Bill 1401 (Alloway-R-Franklin) and House Bill 2114 (Sturla-D-Lancaster)—and now House Bill 20 (Sturla-D-Lancaster).
The letter references the report Water Rich and Water Wise, which describes the extent of the impact and potential solutions.
Read the cover note here.
Since January 2017, the House and Senate and the Governor’s Office have not identified and taken action on specific sources of funding for a Pennsylvania clean water fund or other proposals to help Pennsylvania meet its statewide and Chesapeake Bay water pollution cleanup obligations.
Earlier this month, Sen. Yaw, Sen. Yudichak, and Rep. Everett announced plans to introduce legislation creating a $3 Keystone Tree Fund checkoff on driver and vehicle registrations to support tree-planting efforts statewide along impaired waters. The initiative is designed to help support the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership, which has a goal of planting 10 million trees along streams by 2025.
The Pennsylvania Chesapeake Bay Watershed Planning Steering Committee is now in the midst of drafting a clean water plan to meet Pennsylvania’s obligations to reduce water pollution in the 43-county Chesapeake Bay drainage area of the state. One committee workgroup is looking at funding issues. The workgroup is being led by Rep. Everett, Brion Johnson (executive director of PENNVEST), and Marel King (Pennsylvania director of the Chesapeake Bay Commission).