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Group Pushes For Waterway Buffer Zones Around PA Developments

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 By Tom Joseph, Public News Service - PA, Contact
May 6, 2009

Philadelphia, PA – A just-released study shows growing numbers of cities and towns in Pennsylvania are requiring environmental buffer zones between new development and nearby streams and rivers to keep natural water systems healthy. Now, one of the groups involved wants to see such buffer zone guidelines in place statewide.

Brady Russell, director of Clean Water Action in Eastern Pennsylvania, says a uniform code for future projects is the logical next step.

"It's just time for the Commonwealth itself to have a regulation saying that whenever there's a new development alongside a stream, there really ought to be natural vegetation buffering the stream from that development."

Clean Water Action supports 100-foot buffer zones for new developments near streams and rivers. Existing development would not be affected unless it was dramatically changed or expanded.

Russell says communities requiring those zones now are doing so to be good neighbors, and their good deeds should be reciprocated.

"Kudos to all these townships that have done it, but the people who they're really helping the most are the ones downstream from them; that's why we need to have it statewide, so that everyone is protected."

Russell says benefits of a state law are long-term.

"Over the course of ten years, you really see a lot more tree cover coming along streams, and that dramatically increases the aesthetic value of the area, and also the health of the waterway."

Some developers say buffer zones add to their costs and make them think twice about doing work in areas where such zones are required.

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