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Report: "Flushing Out" the Facts on PA's Polluted Runoff
January 22, 2014- Tom Joseph
Nearly 2,500 miles of Pennsylvania waterways are considered "impaired" because of pollution, and a new report takes a look at possible solutions.

Stormwater runoff from blacktop and roofs in cities and suburbs is putting valuable water resources at great risk, according to the report released by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Harry Campbell, who heads the foundation's Pennsylvania office, said some communities are tackling the problem head on by "iImproving local conditions and local water quality in a way that identifies where the primary sources of the pollution are coming from within those various communities, and then rendering each community's collective expertise to deal with those in the most cost-effective way practicable."

Foundation president Will Baker said he hopes the report is used as a template of sorts for how to handle polluted runoff moving forward.

"This is a suite of solutions that local folks can implement to make their own backyard waters cleaner, for the benefit of human health, of aquatic health, of recreation," he said. "It's very much a local issue."

Solutions to the problem are relatively straightforward, Campbell said. They can mean strategically planting trees, creating wetlands and specially designed rain gardens that filter polluted runoff. He added that it's important that funding be restored to the state's Stormwater Management Act to help get the work done.

"Zeroed out in 2008, this Act provided assistance through resources to counties in developing and updating watershed or countywide plans to manage polluted runoff," he said.

The foundation opposes legislation that would remove requirements for new developments to preserve or restore forests beside the state's most pristine streams, Campbell said.

In Pennsylvania, the report said, impacts in some areas include contamination of drinking water sources, property damage and loss, and beach closings and no-swimming advisories.

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