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Environment & Energy

Stormwater Bill Rolls Through Pennsylvania Senate

The Pennsylvania state Senate last Monday unanimously passed legislation which allows local municipalities to create stormwater authorities.

Senate Bill 1261 comes in response to flooding that has occurred across Pennsylvania over the past year, including a flash flood on a Pittsburgh street in August that killed four people.

The sponsor Senator Ted Erickson (R-Delaware) said after all the flooding, something needed to be done.

"It became quite clear that we needed to have in our arsenal of tools something that would allow authorities to be formed across municipal boundaries on the basis of watersheds," the senator said.

PennFuture law staff chair Brian Glass agreed with Erickson that the legislation will act as a mechanism for municipalities to both protect the environment and save money.

"Stormwater authorities could provide many municipalities with potential sources of funding for stormwater planning and projects," Glass said. "It will also allow local communities to work with one another to stormwater issues on a watershed basis."

While he didn't have an exact figure, Erickson believes this bill could mean billions of dollars to the commonwealth through reduced flood damage and access to federal funds to create the stormwater authorities.

"It is huge in terms of the need that is out there, both in terms of stormwater management and then, of course, in terms of what has happened over periods of years in our creeks and rivers to cause the flooding," Erickson said.

The legislation now moves to the Pennsylvania House.