CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVES: Tell them to vote 'No' on SB 597/Water Quality Accountability Act

Mountain Watershed Association via Shutterstock

Recently, the Pennsylvania Senate passed SB 597, the “Water Quality Accountability Act’. If signed into law, it would raise the cost of operations for public water authorities by implementing burdensome reporting and compliance requirements.

Under the conditions of the bill, municipal water and wastewater operations will be prohibited from receiving state and federal funding if their systems are out of compliance. Those funds are often used to update infrastructure needed for long term upgrades and emergency fixes, in turn bringing the system into or closer to compliance. Without access to essential funding, public water and wastewater authorities may feel pressured to sell out to larger private utilities.

The privatization of public water and wastewater utilities is a highly fraught issue which creates an array of impacts such as water bills that are, on average, 59 percent higher than those for public utilities. Private companies often entice chronically-underfunded local governments to sell their water utilities for one-time payments of millions of dollars. That money could then be used to offset the costs of infrastructure like schools and roads. However, municipalities are finding that, over the long term, the cost of losing its utility can exceed the one-time payment several times over.

Today, we urge the public to contact your local representatives and urge them to ‘vote No SB 597’. The last thing we need is for more private corporate interests to profit off of communities and the natural resources they depend upon, especially while we carry the load of historic inflation, more threats to clean water, and the sad state of politics in which our elected officials represent their donors over their constituents.