Elliott talks about Chesapeake Bay

PAT FRIDGEN
G. Warren Elliott

Warren Elliott, former Franklin County Commissioner, is getting his feet wet in a new arena of service. He was recently appointed as the citizen-at -large from Pennsylvania to sit on the Chesapeake Bay Commission. His term is for four years.

Elliott shared his first impressions with the Franklin County Council of Governments Jan. 19. He is one of 21 commission members from Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland. The board is comprised of 15 legislators, three governors and three citizens. Since 1980, the commission has helped the states cooperatively manage the bay.

"They don't create regulations," Elliott said. "Their job is to get legislators to agree on issues. The goal is to clean up the Chesapeake Bay."

He is serving on a voluntary basis, and said his compensation came in another way.

"I get paid with preserved land, access to streams and cleaner water. Our future is all about water. And I enjoy it."

While farm groups are suing the federal Environmental Protection Agency, claiming it does not have the right to set standards for pollutant and sediment flows into waterways, but rather the states should, Elliott said one court case ruled in favor of the EPA. He himself was interested in the topic, since 10 years ago he had testified on the presence of endocrine interceptors in the Susquehanna River, which created genetic changes in fish that distorted male and female characteristics. He thought there were many issues that affected the water quality, beyond field runoff and wastewater treatment plant discharges. He added that the EPA had backed off on some requirements for sewer plants because of the tremendous expense.

Washington Township manager Mike Christopher agreed with the new tack, since often the end results didn't make much of a difference in the health of the water.

Elliot wanted the states and EPA to together find reasonable measures to protect the bay.

Elliott is also on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, considering himself an avid sportsman. He stated Pennsylvania was only behind Alaska in the number of stream miles, boasting 87,000. He was particularly interested, as chairman of the Wildlife and Habitat Committee, on acquiring permanent access easements. He is also vice chair of the Boating Committee.

He promised to establish a Franklin County Land Conservancy by June 1 so property owners could gift their land to the county to maintain open space.