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State Water Plan

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Pennsylvania has abundant and magnificent water resources, and all residents have a stake in their use, enhancement and stewardship. Indeed, Article I of our State Constitution vests a right to pure water and the values of the natural environment in all Pennsylvanians, and imposes a duty to conserve and maintain public natural resources.

Our state water resources should provide the basis for an exceptional quality of life, thriving ecosystems, agricultural prominence, economic prosperity, outdoor opportunities, and unparalleled natural beauty for all Pennsylvanians, as well as attract visitors to our great Commonwealth.

To achieve this vision, the Pennsylvania State Water Plan provides planning tools and guidance for those who make decisions that affect the Commonwealth's water resources or make decisions based on adequate quantity and quality of water. The current planning effort builds on a rich history of state water planning, from the 1970s-1980s to the most recent work accomplished under the Water Resources Planning Act (Act 220 of 2002) from 2003 through 2009.

Act 220 required updating the State Water Plan of the 1970s-80s. This task was completed and is recognized as the State Water Plan Update of 2009, which accomplished registration and reporting of water users throughout Pennsylvania and identified Critical Water Planning Areas where the supply of water might not satisfy current or future demands.

Current Planning Efforts

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Office of Water Resources Planning is working to update the 2009 Plan, as required by the Act. Tasks underway include:

  • Enabling open access to and sharing of water use data by water resources decision makers and the public through the creation of web-based tools.
  • Forming statewide and regional committees.
  • Finalizing the Critical Water Planning Area Resource Plans prepared in the 2009 State Water Plan Update for further consideration by the committees.

Making Water Data Easily Accessible and Shareable

DEP has been collecting water use data from users on an annual basis since 2003 to inform the current State Water Plan update. We're building online tools, or data viewers, to make the data readily available to the public. The data viewers will allow users to easily see the data and export it.

Completion of the data viewers is expected by October 31, 2017, but individual report viewers will be available on DEP's Water Reports web page as each one is completed.

Forming Committees

Regional advisory committees are an integral part of the State Water Plan. Guiding the development of regional components, making recommendations to DEP and the statewide committee, and facilitating an open process for public input are some of the tasks performed by regional advisory committees.

DEP is in the process of activating committees representing the following planning regions in the Commonwealth:

State Water Planning Regions within Pennsylvania

  • Great Lakes
  • Ohio
  • Upper/Middle Susquehanna
  • Lower Susquehanna,
  • Potomac
  • Delaware

State Water Planning Regions Within Pennsylvania 

We're gaining commitments from participants in the 2009 Plan; obtaining nominations for vacancies; and completing appointments by Governor Tom Wolf, as specified in Act 220.

Contact Us

Department of Environmental Protection
Office of Water Resources Planning
PO Box 8555
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8555