About our water issues committee

Getting our feet wet

Courtesy morguefile


The Water Issues Committee is co-chaired by Thomas Au and Barbara Benson. The rest of the committee is comprised of water and conservation leaders from the ten Groups of our PA Chapter. Additionally, our committee works with a number of other environmental and civic organizations (see the Water Brigade) to ensure that our state's waters are protected.


Two Important Collaborations
Since 2002, we have worked closely with the Pennsylvania Campaign for Clean Water (PCCW, www.pacleanwatercampaign.org) focusing on statewide water issues.  We have participated as members of the PCCW Steering Committee and their four Work Groups:  

      • Stormwater/Buffers,
      • Shale Gas Drilling,
      • Exceptional ValueStreams/Impaired Waters, 
      • Wetlands. 

More recently (2010), we joined the Choose Clean Water Coalition (CCW, www.choosecleanwater.org) and are continuing to work with the coalition on their 2013 priorities:

      • Ensuring Chesapeake Bay pollution limits continue to lay the groundwork for returning clean water to the region;
      • Promoting federal investment for Chesapeake Bay watershed restoration and protection efforts and defending against attempts in Congress or the Administration to weaken or eliminate them;
      • Strengthening policies and permits to stop polluted runoff in urbanized areas;
      • Protecting communities and regional water resources from the impacts of natural gas extraction. 


Our priorities for the year 2014

    • Clean Water Act –  Mobilize members across the state to engage in activism relative to the federal actions around clarifying which waters are afforded protections under the Clean Water Act.  Also monitor legislation introduced by those who oppose the federal actions.   

    • Buffers – We plan to work along with a number of environmental organizations that are working on reviving efforts to expand buffer zones required in earth disturbance permits and new construction. 

    • Susquehanna River Basin Commission – We will keep pressure on SRBC to honor its mandate to protect water quality in the basin.  We have opposed new water withdrawals for gas development until SRBC conducts a comprehensive water quality study on the impacts of drilling and have commented on their Comprehensive Plan released in 2013.

    • Chesapeake Bay Water Quality Improvement – We will continue to monitor progress in reducing pollution loads.

    • Protect Small Mouth Bass in the Susquehanna River by declaring Susquehanna River an impaired water – We will continue pressure on DEP to list Susquehanna River as an impaired river due to decline in small mouth bass fishery.

    • Pipeline Activism –   We have been monitoring and commenting on DEP/COE permits for stream crossing by new gas pipelines. We expect the Transmission Line Committee to take on pipeline related issues in 2014. 

Want to get on the National clean water email list? And stay tuned to national clean water efforts? Join the Sierra Club’s clean water email list by sending a request to Dalal Aboulhosn.