– Protecting Pennsylvania’s environment through clean waterways is essential, which is why the federal Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) program was initially established nearly 20 years ago. It set out to address water resources in watersheds throughout the nation that do not go through a treatment system and have higher than acceptable pollutant levels.
Pennsylvania has implemented MS4 stormwater requirements since 2004, which requires a pollutant reduction plan and practices that have added more costs to municipalities and, ultimately, become an additional financial burden to the individual taxpayer through fees levied supporting the MS4 program requirements.
The PA House of Representatives today passed legislation authored by Rep. Barb Gleim (R-Cumberland) that would require the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to conduct water quality testing within communities under the MS4 program. Currently, fees are being assessed and requirements are being mandated on individuals, businesses and municipalities based on the water quality data from 20 years ago, which does not accurately reflect the cleanliness of waterways today.
“This legislation compels DEP to conduct more accurate and current testing, OR DEP may utilize testing done by other entities such as the County Conservation Districts, PA Fish and Boat Commission, DCNR, PA Game Commission, state universities or accredited private laboratories, so long as it complies with federal water quality testing regulations,” said Gleim. Currently, these entities are already conducting water quality tests, they want to offer test results to DEP, but they are not being accepted. If a small MS4 meets the federal requirements necessary for a waiver, then the waiver should be granted, when requirements are met. Under the EPA, the mandate does not say that the stormwater plan process is perpetual, nor does it say that the states should take civil or administrative action, which PA does.
“Residents and businesses have contacted me about bills they have received from their municipality for thousands of dollars owed under state MS4 regulations,” said Gleim. “With the passage of this legislation we will have a more accurate reading of PA’s water bodies, stormwater plans based on current science, and the data needed to justify many of the actions of the department and the efforts of our people.
“I know communities in my district and others have been adversely impacted by current regulations and I am pleased to have the support of my colleagues for this commonsense legislation,” concluded Gleim.
House Bill 2331
now goes to the Senate for consideration.
PA State Rep. Barbara Gleim
199th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives