Environmental Protection

Group Campaigns for Buffers to Protect Pennsylvania Streams

The Pennsylvania Campaign for Clean Water on June 18 launched its "Buffers 100" initiative, urging the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to propose new regulations that would require minimum 100-foot buffers on new development on all rivers and streams in the state.

The proposal has been endorsed by 110 organizations, businesses, and municipal organizations from across the state, along with 25 legislators from both parties and both chambers of the General Assembly.

The campaign's proposal would require new developments to preserve a strip of land at least 100 foot wide from the top of the stream bank, keeping that land in its natural state with native vegetation and trees. The proposal would impact new development only and could not affect existing structures within the buffer zone. Buffers would be built and maintained by developers, at no cost to taxpayers.

Myron Arnowitt, state director for Clean Water Action, noted, "12,500 miles of streams in Pennsylvania are already degraded by pollution. Buffers can help restore many of these streams to health and protect the rest from harmful pollution."

"Through a lack of understanding about how important protecting our streams is, we have paved over and otherwise abused our watersheds. We must stop making the same mistakes. One-hundred-foot minimum stream buffers are not a luxury of environmentalists but instead are necessary to protect our health and safety. These buffers protect and clean our water and reduce both flood damage and the cost of stormwater management," explained Tavis Dockwiller, a landscape architect of Viridian Landscape Studio.

Andy Paravis of the Federation of Northern Chester County Municipalities noted that his township, North Coventry, has already adopted a 100-foot buffer requirement and has seen positive benefits from it. But he added, "The state needs to require buffers on all streams since water doesn't respect municipal boundaries and we're all affected by what the municipality upstream does."

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