Article courtesy of Evan Brandt | May 14, 2012 | Journal Register News Service | The Phoenix Reporter & Item | Shared as educational material
Many local officials are understandably worried about state requirements that they spend millions of dollars on keeping polluted run-off out of the state’s streams and drinking water sources.
But while townships from Montgomery, Chester, Berks and Delaware counties have joined together to make their voice heard in Harrisburg, few people are offering an alternative.
One person who is, however, is state Sen. Edwin “Ted” Erickson, R-26th Dist.
Erickson has introduced a bill that would allow the formation of “stormwater management authorities,” which would manage stormwater on the scale they occur in nature — across municipal boundaries.
“Streams don’t stop when they get to the township line,” Erickson said.
A former Delaware County executive director, Erickson is used to trying to address problems regionally within Pennsylvania’s fractured political landscape.
He said Thursday he has seen a creek that flows through Darby borough, “which seems fairly benevolent,” flood so badly during bad storms the water reaches the second story of homes nearby.
But it was not a problem that could be solved in Darby.
“After all, so much of that run-off came from upstream,” he said.
“The intent of the legislation is to set up these municipal stormwater management authorities and the municipalities within them would be required to join and they would be assessed — and therein lies the difficulty,” Erickson said.
The method of assessment would be left up to the authority members to determine, he said, but despite this element of self-determination, Erickson said all he had been able to garner in Harrisburg was some co-sponsors and he could not even get it out of committee.
“We have a special situation in the southeast because everything is built out, but the representatives from the rural areas, they’re not worried about stormwater because they don’t have a problem,” he said.
But one representative who is intrigued by the idea is state Rep. Tom Quigley, R-146th Dist.
Quigley said he had never heard of the legislation before, but thought the concept deserved some exploration.
He agreed Pennsylvania’s devotion to tiny “political sub-divisions” continues to make dealing with modern problems more and more difficult.
“The idea of watershed-level management might be more practical, it certainly makes a little more sense than what we’re doing now,” Quigley said.
Quigley, who attended the April meeting of concerned municipal officials held in Pottstown Borough Hall, said he was also struck by a comment made by Lower Pottsgrove Township Manager Rod Hawthorne.
“He was noting that the levels of pollution they’re trying to get to with the water — to get to those levels you would have to go back to measuring the water when Lewis and Clark were exploring the Louisiana Purchase,” Quigley said.
“I think we need to inject some reasonableness into some of those standards as well,” he said.