We all live in a watershed, which is nature’s own trickle-down system. Pollutants added to the land surface can trickle down to pollute groundwater. Similarly, pollutants added too close to a channel can trickle through the soil and flow down slope to pollute water downstream. As landowners we do not own this water but have a right to use water on-site for reasonable or beneficial uses.
Our Pennsylvania Constitution states that people have a right to clean air, pure water and to the preservation of the environment. Thus, we are obligated to use water without being wasteful or use it in a malicious way that unduly interferes with our neighbors’ rights. A system of standards and practices has evolved to help minimize pollution impacts, such as that set forth in our Clean Water Act. Agencies such as DEP and EPA use the best available data to set these rules based upon research and experience. Cutting agency and research budgets or allowing undue political influence can be counter-productive.
We in Pennsylvania have had our environmental successes and failures. Our legacy of 3,000 miles of streams still polluted by acid-mine drainage reflects an era when economic interests and environmental regulations were not in balance. However, since 2000, DEP and EPA using the Clean Water Act have implemented more than 20 small watershed projects that have improved drinking water quality and aquatic habitat. DEP and EPA through the Clean Water Act are making a difference. I urge continued support for clean water.