How to keep your home from going to the dump
By Michaela Meeks The HillBy Michaela R.
MeeksWASHINGTON, D.C.—With the help of an innovative new water treatment system, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection is poised to reduce its dependence on groundwater for water supplies and protect its residents from the effects of climate change.
The EPA’s new water conservation plan was approved Tuesday by the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, with the support of Democrats and Republicans, and comes in response to public pressure from environmentalists, lawmakers and consumers.
The plan, titled “A New Water Supply Management Approach,” proposes a “more efficient, less costly, and environmentally sound approach” to managing the state’s water resources, the EPA said in a statement.
The department has already started the process of applying for federal funding to begin building the system, with construction scheduled to start in mid-December and run until 2021.
“The plan is an important step forward in conserving our state’s natural resources, protecting our water quality, and supporting our economic growth,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.
Va.) said in the statement.
“It will allow Pennsylvania to make the most of our precious groundwater resources.”
The plan also includes several other changes that are expected to make Pennsylvania’s water more resilient to the effects that climate change is having on the state.
The agency is expected to spend more on water quality improvements, including the purchase of more new equipment to collect water from streams and lakes.
A study commissioned by the EPA in the 2020s showed that a failure to maintain adequate water quality could lead to a decrease in the quality of the water flowing into the state, and a higher risk of algae blooms and other water quality issues.
The state also plans to install more solar-powered water treatment plants, to cut the amount of water used for irrigation by 60 percent and replace water-intensive pumps with less energy-intensive ones.
In the meantime, the plan includes several incentives for homeowners to keep their water in good condition, including a $2,500 tax credit for homeowners who install solar panels.
“Water conservation is the most effective way to keep water in the state safe and affordable,” said Tom Murphy, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, which advocates for clean water.
“Pennsylvania has long known that we must continue to protect the most precious resource in our state: our water.
The EPA’s water plan is a step forward to making that happen.”
The Environmental Protection Agency is currently developing an additional plan that will go into effect in 2021, with a goal of reducing water use by 30 percent over the next decade.
The new plan is expected have a major impact on Pennsylvania’s overall water consumption.
In 2016, the state reported an average use of 6.2 million gallons per day—which is a 40 percent decrease from the previous year, according to data from the Department of Energy.
In Pennsylvania, that amount is about half of the amount used by the United States as a whole.
The Department of the Interior and Environment has estimated that the new water plan could save the state $50 million a year.