It’s a balancing act
It’s not that local officials don’t want clean water; they do. In Wayne County, they point to existing excellent water quality as evidence that current regulations are working just fine. A permitting system called the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) dating back to 1972’s federal Clean Water Act, plus countless “best management practices” added over the last 40 years appear to be doing the job. Thus, officials argue, there is no demonstrated need for the policy change. Further, they believe it would penalize the county for its good stewardship of water quality in the past.
Clean creeks, streams and rivers are important to our region, bringing thousands of recreational users to support our local economies. Downstream, the Delaware Watershed supplies drinking water to five percent of the nation’s population—over 15 million people. So there is strong incentive to protect our HQ and EV waters as a vital natural resource. Vigilance will be required, of course, but common sense, too.
We believe that balance is needed. On one hand, it will be important to faithfully conserve and protect the water quality in our streams, while on the other hand a policy with the potential to shut down local economic development is too heavy-handed in a location where (so far) there is no evidence that such steps (so far) are needed.