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Pennsylvania is a water rich state with approximately 86,000 stream miles connecting more than 700,000 acres of lakes, bays, and wetlands. Protecting and monitoring such a high volume of the Commonwealth's waterways is a challenging but necessary task.
On June 4, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) closed its public comment period for the 2018 Draft Integrated Water Quality Report (IWQR). You can view the IWQR draft and find your local water body by following this link. These reports are required to be submitted every other year (even numbered years) to comply with two sections of the U.S. Clean Water Act that require states to report on the overall condition of their aquatic resources and develop a list of all impaired waters in order to prioritize restoration efforts. Pennsylvania is over a year late in preparing its 2018 report. These reports are submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for approval. PennFuture has submitted comments on this report which can be viewed here.
This year, Pennsylvania’s draft IWQR has been transformed into a fully digital and online interactive program. Users now have access to numerous maps that show water quality in Pennsylvania’s rivers and streams as well as bays, wetlands, and lakes.
Through these maps, PA DEP can explain why waterways in PA have or have not been determined to be “impaired.” If a stream or other body of water is determined to be impaired, it is required that the state design a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) to restore the water quality for that specific waterbody. According to the EPA, a TMDL is a regulatory term identifying the maximum amount of a pollutant that a body of water can receive while still meeting water quality standards.
The next IWQR will be released in Spring 2020. Besides these reports there are more opportunities to make your voice heard. It is essential for the public to participate when there are rule-making comment opportunities. Public comments strengthen regulations, create a comprehensive and accurate record, and support an appropriate and informed decision-making process. Written public comments can be as short or in-depth as the submitter chooses, but here are a few tips and techniques from PennFuture that can help make comments effective:
If you'd like to view the IWQR report, please click here.
For more information on the IWQR please contact PennFuture.