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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 00-548



Public Meetings and Availability of Draft Regulations

[30 Pa.B. 1710]

Prohibition of Nonessential Water Uses in a Commonwealth Drought Emergency Area, Local Water Rationing Plans, Philadelphia Drought Water Emergency Plan and Reductions of Major Water Use in the Delaware River Basin Drought Emergency Area

   The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA or Agency), in cooperation with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP or Department), will hold public meetings to describe revisions it recommends be made to the drought emergency regulations found at 4 Pa. Code, Chapters 118, 119, 119a and 120. The draft revisions were developed based upon experience during droughts in the past decade, and particularly the recent drought of 1998-99. In addition to revising Chapters 118, 119 and 120, the Agency is proposing to eliminate Chapter 119a, which applies specifically to the City of Philadelphia, and to incorporate the applicable provisions of Chapter 119a into Chapter 119.

A.  Public Meetings

   The Agency, in cooperation with the Department, will hold an informational meeting for the purpose of discussing the regulation revisions at the following locations, starting at 7:00 p.m.:

Wednesday, April 5, 2000
Second Floor Auditorium
Rachel Carson State Office Building
400 Market Street
Harrisburg, PA

Thursday, April 6, 2000
Bethlehem Town Hall
10 East Church Street
Bethlehem, PA

Tuesday, April 18, 2000
Department of Environmental Protection
Southwest Regional Office
400 Waterfront Drive
Pittsburgh, PA

   Persons with a disability in need of accommodations as provided for in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 should contact Marilyn Keifer at (717) 772-4048, or through the Pennsylvania AT&T Relay Service by calling (800) 654-5984 (TDD users) or (800) 654-5988 (voice users) to discuss how the Agency may accommodate their needs.

B.  Notice of Availability of Draft Regulations

   Copies of the draft revised regulations are available from Robin Snyder at (717) 651-2224. The draft revisions are available electronically on the PEMA web site at and on the DEP web site by choosing ''Subjects'', then ''Drought Information'' and clicking on ''Draft Revisions.''

   Written comments should be addressed to Mark Goodwin, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, 2605 Interstate Drive, Harrisburg, PA 17110. Comments will not be accepted by facsimile. Comments must be received by April 30, 2000. A subject heading of the proposal and a return name and address must be included in each letter.

C.  Background of the Draft Revisions to Drought Emergency Regulations


   The drought experience of 1998-99 offered insight into many ways in which the drought emergency regulations found at Chapters 118, 119, 119a and 120 have become outdated with the passage of nearly 20 years since they were initially written and nearly 10 years since they were last revised. Technology and social trends have advanced in ways that earlier drafters of the regulations could not have envisioned. As an example, irrigation practices have advanced with new technologies, and it may now be more efficient to irrigate with automated irrigation systems than to water with a hand-held hose in many cases.

   Overall, our experience has also shown us the potential for more efficient ways to manage water use during drought emergencies. Experience has shown, for example, that a permanent Commonwealth Drought Coordinator, with authority to approve drought plans prior to a drought, rather than during an emergency, would enable the Emergency Management Council to focus more closely on drought emergency operations, and at the same time provide for more meaningful reductions in and more efficient use of available water resources.

   The proposed revisions will move the Commonwealth toward full-time drought preparedness and management. Implementation of actual emergency provisions of the regulations, including the nonessential water use bans, will only be effective during a declared emergency and within the declared emergency area, as before. However, the revised regulations will be effective at all times, rather than only during declared drought emergencies. They will also be effective Statewide, rather than only in the declared emergency area. This will enable the designation of a permanent Commonwealth Drought Coordinator (CDC) within the Department of Environmental Protection. It will authorize the CDC to receive and approve drought management plans on an ongoing basis from water users across the Commonwealth, thus allowing more opportunity to provide education and technical assistance to water users to guide them in the development of their individual drought plans. It will also allow more time for the CDC and Department staff to adequately review plans and to approve them prior to an actual emergency. This is in concert with new provisions in the regulations that require certain classes of water users, such as golf courses, to operate according to an approved plan during an emergency.

Chapter 118

   The Chapter 118 regulations were originally written to apply only to the Delaware River Basin portion of the Commonwealth. References to the Delaware River Basin are being removed from the regulations in order to make them applicable Statewide. Many of the activities involved in submittal and review of drought contingency plans, as required by the regulations, included duplications of effort by both PEMA and the CDC. To the extent practicable, references to PEMA with regard to those activities are being removed from the regulations, and authority and responsibility for those activities are being delegated to the CDC, as agent for PEMA. In a similar manner, the current authorities and responsibilities of the Emergency Management Council in the appeal process, are being assigned to PEMA and further delegated to the extent practicable to the Public Utility Commission's administrative law judges or others.

Chapter 119

   Chapter 119 contains the bans on nonessential water use, which are effective during a declared drought emergency. Many revisions are being proposed in Chapter 119. As in Chapter 118, to the extent practicable, responsibilities and authorities are being assigned from the Council to PEMA and delegated from PEMA to the CDC. These procedures again affect plan or variance submissions, reviews, approvals and appeals.

   The effective emergency area is being expanded to include the complete service area of any public water supply agency whose source of water is located in the declared emergency area. This will eliminate problems experienced previously when public water supply service areas extended beyond an emergency county into a non-emergency county with the result that only a part of the service area was subject to emergency restrictions. In another effort to address public water supply inequities, the revisions provide that a public water supply agency whose sources are not in jeopardy, although located within a declared emergency county, may request a variance from the nonessential use bans, if the agency is following a drought contingency plan that was approved by the CDC within the previous 3 years.

   Definitions have been added or revised to clarify the meanings of athletic field, effective conservation, irrigation contractor, newly seeded and sodded grass, paved surface, and professional landscaper.

   A new section is added to specifically address athletic fields, which were previously considered part of the ''lawn'' section. Regulations are provided separately for normal athletic fields and sand-based fields, because the sand-based fields (similar to golf greens) require more frequent and greater quantities of watering. Irrigation of sand-based fields will require metering and reporting and must be done according to a plan approved by the CDC. Normal athletic fields will be limited to watering one time per week; while sand-based fields will be limited to one and a half inches of water per week.

   The golf course regulations have been completely rewritten. As with the sand-based athletic fields, irrigation of golf courses will require metering and reporting and must be done according to a plan approved by the CDC. The golf courses will be required to reduce their watering to 70% of the average daily quantity of water used, by month, in the previous 5 years, within lower and upper limits.

   The grass and landscape/nursery sections of the regulations are being modified primarily to recognize the efficiencies in using automated irrigation systems, compared to the ''hand-held bucket and hose'' techniques allowed in the current regulations.

   Recirculating fountains will be allowed to continue operating, until the water evaporates. Fountains or waterfalls necessary to sustain fish life will be allowed to operate; water will be allowed to be used to replenish fish ponds and water gardens to sustain fish and aquatic life.

   Revisions in the mobile equipment and paved surface sections recognize the need to wash equipment or areas related to food vending and hauling. The use of a hand-held hose with automatic shutoff nozzle will be allowed, up to 2 minutes, for washing personal cars, recognizing that this will generally require less water than the ''bucket'' method allowed in the current regulations.

   The fire hydrant regulations previously contained in Chapter 119a are being incorporated into Chapter 119; while Chapter 119a, which dealt specifically with Philadelphia, is being eliminated.

Chapter 119a

   This chapter, which applies specifically to Philadelphia, is being eliminated and the section on fire hydrants is being incorporated into Chapter 119, as indicated above.

Chapter 120

   This chapter applies solely to public and municipal water supply systems and allows either the municipality or the water supply agency to institute water rationing if the bans on nonessential water uses effected through Chapter 119 are insufficient to protect local water supplies. The suggested revisions to this chapter are primarily procedural in nature, some of them reflecting the proposed assignments and delegations of authority from the Council and/or PEMA to PEMA and/or the CDC. Again, the appeal processes reflect the intended use of Public Utility Commission administrative law judges as hearing officers. In addition, procedures for amendment or repeal of an implemented rationing plan are being simplified.


[Pa.B. Doc. No. 00-548. Filed for public inspection March 24, 2000, 9:00 a.m.]

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