Sturla unveils plan that would generate $245 million annually for state budget and water-related programs
HARRISBURG, June 6 – At a Capitol news conference today, state Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, announced he is introducing House Bill 2114, known as the Pennsylvania Water Resource Act.
The Pennsylvania Water Resource Act would enact a water resource fee on 4.4 billion gallons of daily water withdrawals in Pennsylvania that has the potential to generate $245 million annually, based on current usage rates. The bill would exempt the 1.5 billion gallons of daily water withdrawals for agricultural and municipal water usages.
“The Pennsylvania Constitution makes it clear that Pennsylvania’s public natural resources belong to the people of the commonwealth. This bill ensures that entities that are currently using our water for free would pay a nominal fee that will be used to fund water-related programs and projects while freeing up money for the General Assembly to close structural deficits in the state budget,” Sturla said.
Water withdrawn from commonwealth waterways in excess of 10,000 gallons a day is already required to be reported to the Department of Environmental Protection. House Bill 2114 would result in a charge of 1/100th of a cent per gallon if water is withdrawn for use and eventually returned to the source. Water withdrawn and not returned beyond 10,000 gallons a day would be charged 1/10th of a cent per gallon.
Revenue generated from H.B. 2114 would be used to fund water-related programs and general governmental operations in the Department of Environmental Protection ($30 million), Department of Conservation and Natural Resources ($25 million) and Fish and Boat Commission ($5 million). The remaining dollars would be used to fund water-related projects within Pennsylvania’s six major watersheds. There is an additional option to use remaining funds to pay debt service on a $3 billion bond issue for environment projects, subject to ballot referendum.
“At a time when the state is searching for revenue to implement clean water projects as well as new revenue to close the budget deficit, I think this piece of legislation is a viable option,” Sturla said. “I am grateful to all those who’ve helped play a key role in developing this concept and for their support today.”