Penn. proclaims 'Safe Drinking Water Week' May 1-7

DEP secretary urges Pennsylvanians to make voice heard May 17 on $625 million 'Growing Greener' bond question to protect, conserve water sources...

YORK, PA, April 29, 2005 (PRNewswire) -- On behalf of Penn. Gov. Edward G. Rendell, state Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty today reminded Pennsylvanians to celebrate "Safe Drinking Water Week" and encouraged residents to make their voices heard on a $625 million ballot initiative designed to provide funding to clean up rivers and streams and help the state address some of its most pressing environmental problems.

The Governor proclaimed May 1-7 as "Safe Drinking Water Week" in Pennsylvania. The environmental bond question will appear on the May 17 primary election ballot.

"Safe drinking water plays a vital role in citizens' everyday lives and is critical to the Commonwealth's economy," McGinty said during a tour of York Water Co.'s Grantley Road Filter Plant. "Every day, more than 10 million residents turn on their faucets and expect to get safe drinking water from their community water systems. It can be easy to take our water systems for granted, but we all need to make responsible choices to protect and conserve our water sources."

The weeklong celebration of "Safe Drinking Water Week" in Pennsylvania is an extension of National Drinking Water Week, established more than 30 years ago by the American Water Works Association. The aim of the week is to educate people about water systems and heighten public awareness of the "Wonder of Water."

McGinty encouraged citizens to take part in the celebration of this week by learning about their water systems, getting involved in events being held in their communities and becoming more informed about the $625 million bond question on the May 17 ballot.

Most people did not have access to public water systems until the 20th century. Before that, obtaining water was time-consuming, and often expensive. Early water systems did not consistently treat the water for drinking safety, either, because it was mostly used for industrial purposes and firefighting.

The situation today is quite different. With more than 10,000 systems, Pennsylvania has the fourth-highest number of public water systems in the nation.

Drinking-water sources, however, are constantly vulnerable to threats to water quality and quantity. Everything that influences a community's watershed can affect the quality of the water coming out of its taps.

"Safe drinking water is everyone's responsibility," McGinty said. "Whether you are at home or at work, keeping pollution out of Pennsylvania's water supplies helps to ensure every glass of water is safe to drink."

Many routine household activities can contribute to water pollution. When harmful household substances are poured down the drain, into the toilet or into the ground, they can be added to drinking water sources. Treatment can remove them, but it is wiser and safer to prevent them from getting into the source in the first place.

Pennsylvania residents will also have the opportunity to ensure continued improvement of water quality through the upcoming environmental bond referendum May 17. The Governor's Growing Greener II initiative promotes creative and innovative projects that improve watersheds while providing significant funding to improve water quality and clean up Pennsylvania's rivers and streams.

The General Assembly recently demonstrated that ensuring the highest standards of environmental protection while revitalizing communities remain bipartisan and shared priorities. The state legislature recently agreed to put a $625 million bond question that supports the Governor's Growing Greener II goals before the voters. The bond question will appear on the May 17 primary ballot.

For more information on this topic, visit DEP's Web site at www.dep.state.pa.us, Keyword: "Drinking Water."

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