Their View: Working together to protect source water across central Pennsylvania

Recent public debate over a proposed development in Ferguson Township has brought the topic of local source water protection to the forefront. Many people have been energized by this issue, and it is clear that residents care about our water supply and the health of our environment.

ClearWater Conservancy is taking this opportunity to clarify our approach to addressing community issues related to natural resources and to offer ideas on how individuals can have an impact on the future of central Pennsylvania.

ClearWater Conservancy’s mission includes protecting both land and water resources across central Pennsylvania. By design, we work collaboratively with a spectrum of individuals, businesses, other nonprofits, and government agencies. Throughout our 35-year history, this emphasis on collaboration has allowed us to work in a spirit of goodwill with those who share our values and to be highly productive in achieving common goals and lasting benefits for the region.

Recent discussions have done much to increase public understanding of where our water comes from, how our water supplies are managed, and how our land use choices affect both water quantity and water quality. As the greater State College community continues to grow, one challenge we collectively face — of how to manage the pressures for new development while maintaining clean and plentiful supplies of drinking water—will be in the spotlight with increasing frequency.

ClearWater respects both private property rights and the processes in place that govern land development. We also believe our community has the right to shape its future and that each individual can play a role in that ongoing process. The time for the community to act to protect land and water is before land use plans are created. We must work proactively — and we must work together — to protect our clean and plentiful drinking water supplies.

We invite everyone in the region to become more engaged in ongoing source water protection efforts. To have an impact, you can do the following:

1) Encourage your municipality to examine current zoning and other protective mechanisms for Zone 2 Source Water Protection Areas. Zone 2 is the capture zone for a well or well field, or the portion of the aquifer where water flow is directed to and recharges a well. Zone 2 areas for State College Borough Water Authority well fields encompass about 31,000 acres of current and potential future mixed land uses.

2) Be aware of and participate early in the municipal land development process. Exercise your right to have a voice in how your community grows.

3) Support and encourage permanent conservation of the highest priority Zone 2 lands. Protecting land is often the key to protecting water resources.

4) Do your part to protect surface and groundwater by limiting use and spillage of contaminants such as fertilizer, pesticides, motor oil, etc.

ClearWater has been and will continue to be a dedicated partner in protecting the rich water resources of the region through education, land conservation, and environmental restoration.