Major Watershed Improvement Act introduced to PA Senate

Senator Elder A. Vogel Jr. introduced the Major Watershed Improvement Act on May 4 to reduce federal water compliance costs.

MANHEIM, PA, June 5, 2013 -- Senator Elder A. Vogel Jr., Chairman of the Pennsylvania Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee, introduced the Major Watershed Improvement Act, Pennsylvania Senate Bill 994, on May 4. The act will significantly reduce federal water compliance costs -- such as the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) mandates, while also improving water quality in the Susquehanna River and its tributaries.

"This legislation opens up new opportunities for dairy farmers to receive additional income," said Mike McCloskey, CEO of Select Milk Producers, owner of Fair Oaks Dairy Farms and chairman of the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Council. "Investing in new technology and improving upon best management practices, while creating a profit center, will benefit our farmers in these very volatile and difficult times."

The law is initially designed to implement a voluntary competitive bidding program for verified nutrient reductions. In addition to the Susquehanna, the Major Watershed Improvement Act applies to other major Pennsylvania watersheds including the Delaware, Genesee, Lake Erie, Ohio and Potomac.

The proposed competitively bid program for nutrients allows interested parties, including private companies, participating authorities as well as participating municipalities to develop projects and sell verified TMDL credits into the program. This past January, the PA Legislative Budget & Finance Committee published a study, projecting that a competitively bid verified nutrient procurement program would reduce nutrient compliance costs by up to 80 percent.

“The farming community has long awaited this important opportunity, which allows the financing and installation of new technologies to reduce the amount of nutrients flowing into our nation’s watersheds,” said Ed Schafer, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and head of the Coalition for an Affordable Bay Solution. “The proposed legislation to implement a competitive bidding process for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is cutting-edge public policy and will lead to improved water management with lower costs to the citizens.”

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