PLNA Opposes Bill to Weaken Clean Streams Law
Saturday, October 4, 2014
Posted by: Gregg Robertson
HARRISBURG – In a letter to every member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, PLNA has opposed a bill that would weaken the requirement for riparian buffers, HB 1565.
PLNA learned late last Friday that HB 1565 will be considered by the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Monday October 6. the bill is moving quickly. Please click on this link to let your state senator know that you oppose this bill.
PLNA believes that HB 1565 would weaken the protection afforded exceptional value and high quality streams by forested riparian buffers under Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Act and Chapter 102 of the Pennsylvania Code. The bill would make forested riparian buffers optional, rather than mandatory.
Forested riparian buffers have been shown to be the best means of protecting and enhancing water quality in Pennsylvania’s streams. In a recent review of the scientific literature, staff at Pennsylvania’s Stroud Water Research Center in Avondale found that forested riparian buffers provide the following benefits:
- Provide cooling shade to the stream allowing the water to hold more dissolved oxygen necessary for the health of fish and other aquatic species;
- Slow storm water runoff to the stream allowing more infiltration to ground water and reducing flash flooding downstream;
- Remove nitrates from stormwater runoff, improving stream water quality;
- Trap sediment that would otherwise enter the stream, improving stream water quality;
- Reduce stream channel meandering and stabilize the stream banks.
In addition, the restoration and maintenance of riparian buffers and other "green" infrastructure has become an important business for many PLNA members. Member nurseries grow the native trees and plants used to restore forested riparian buffers and landscape contractors install the trees and plants and do the maintenance work on the buffers. For many PLNA members, it's an economic and business issue.
Further the green industry has come under pressure to regulate turf grass fertilizer application in search of improving water quality. The science shows that a dense healthy cover of turf grass actually reduces pollution from storm water runoff. PLNA is concerned that if water quality degrades due to the reduction of forested riparian buffers, the pressure to regulate turf grass fertilizers will increase, regardless of what the science says.
Despite PLNA’s objection, the bill was passed by the House and moved on to the Senate, where it now sits in the Senate Environment and Energy Committee. PLNA is in touch with members of the Committee to urge their “no” vote on reporting the legislation to the Senate floor.