The 32 counties in the four states that make up the Power of 32 region are water rich. So, it’s not surprising that a key environment initiative is to promote the sustainable use and conservation of the region’s water. To do this, we created the Ohio River Headwaters Resource Committee to promote policies and resources to protect our region’s water, with respect to diversions and withdrawals from the watershed. The committee works with The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO), to advocate unique issues of the headwaters of the Ohio River – 26,000 square miles in Western Pennsylvania and parts of West Virginia, Ohio and Maryland.
The committee, which has 30 members representing corporations, nonprofits, academics, and conservation groups, has met three times during the last year. According to Deborah Lange, Director of Special Environmental Projects at CMU and Project Manager for the Power of 32 Regional Headwaters Resource Committee, the focus is on water quantity and a range of issues including permitting requirements, municipal withdrawals, Act 13 regulations on the natural gas drilling industry, inter-basin transfers and water economy.
The most recent meeting on April 11 featured guest speakers from ORSANCO discussing the progress on data development, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection discussing the water permitting process, a presentation of the Nature Conservancy’s ecological flow study on how tributary droughts can effect ecology, and a report from the student group developing a water budget for the Ohio Headwaters region. The next meeting is planned for July with speakers from the U.S. Geological Survey on national water census and the Army Corps of Engineers discussing infrastructure.