Clean Water Education Week takes center stage in Harrisburg | Pennsylvania News

Clean Water Education Week takes center stage in Harrisburg |  Pennsylvania News

HARRISBURG, Pa. -Clean water. It’s vital for living things, but according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection more than 30 percent of stream miles in the state are degraded by pollution.

“It’s one of those things that we need to make sure we prioritize it now, so we continue to have clean water,” said Michael Mehrazar, the campaign manager with PennFuture, which helped organize a news conference Wednesday in the Rotunda of the State Capitol . The news conference included legislators, environmental department heads and organizations, all calling for more funding.

“One of our main asks is to make sure we have full funding for our state agencies, one of them is the Department of Environmental Protection. From 2002 to 2017 they experienced budget cuts of nearly 40 percent.”

Mehrazar says that led to a decrease of 30 percent of the staff. He says departments like the DEP, Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Natural Resources all play vital roles in keeping our water clean.

“Agriculture runoff, you have a farm that has excess fertilizer or manure that is not managed properly that runs off. A lot of urban areas have stormwater issues where the runoff goes into the waterways and then acid mine drainage where you have the legacy of pollution from coal mines that are not addressed.”

He says all those departments can help with prevention and clean-up if they have the right staff and tools. PennFuture says the Lehigh Valley experiences one of the highest levels of water pollution due to geographical position at the bottom of the basin.

Mehrazar says hopefully the General Assembly makes sure agencies get adequate funding.