Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed Comes to Harrisburg:
2019 Pennsylvania Clean Water Education Day
By Emily Rinaldi, PennFuture Campaign Manager, Northeast Region
On May 1, 2019, the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed (CDRW) and Choose Clean Water (CCW) joined forces to storm Harrisburg for the second annual Pennsylvania Clean Water Education Day spearheaded by PennFuture. In total, about thirty individuals from both organizations came together during at the state capitol to educate lawmakers in a series of meetings, literature drop-offs, and a press conference highlighting the importance of clean water. Twenty-three meetings with Pennsylvania senators and house members were held that day along with thirty literature drop-offs. With 13 million people relying on the Delaware River Basin for water, clean water must take priority for the health, safety, and the economy of the region.
Throughout the day, the discussions with elected officials centered around Pennsylvania’s 2019 clean water priorities as identified through CDRW’s State Leads program. We asked state legislators to support common-sense funding for programs that provide critical support to Pennsylvania, local governments, and communities; and to support legislation that addresses single-use products that exacerbate water pollution. These priorities include: the need for a dedicated clean water fund; proper funding for our state resource agencies like the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture; asking that Pennsylvania begin fully funding our state water basin commissions, such as the Delaware River Basin Commission; and also highlighting the “Zero Waste PA” package of bills to reduce plastic waste and other contaminants to our waterways.
Pennsylvania must provide fair share funding for river basin commissions, such as the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), which oversee waterways split among several states for water quality, flood control, wildlife habitat and aquatic flora, and industrial runoff. In 1988, Pennsylvania agreed to pay 25% of costs for the DRBC, but the state continues to fall short of this goal, leaving funding gaps for this essential water commission. Pennsylvania legislators must also take action to fund agencies that oversee clean water programs so that they have the resources to hire staff, conduct water quality testing, and do all that they can to protect clean water in the state. Additionally, the Zero Waste PA package of thirteen bills would address critical issues facing our waterways, including single-use plastics, Styrofoam, electronic waste, funding Pennsylvania’s recycling programs, and more.
The Pennsylvania Clean Water Education Day was a huge success, thanks in large part to the phenomenal clean water advocates of CDRW and CCW. PennFuture is grateful to the speakers who came out and expressed what’s on the line when it comes to protecting water resources, including: Rep. Mike Sturla, 96th District; Rep. Leanne Krueger, 161st Legislative District; Jacquelyn Bonomo, President and CEO at PennFuture; Sean Jackson Clean Water Supply Associate at American Rivers; Sandra Meola, Director of the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed; and Stephanie Wein, Water & Conservation Advocate for PennEnvironment.
Want to get involved? Stay tuned for details about the upcoming Pennsylvania Clean Water Education Day in Harrisburg in Spring 2020!