(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — The 2022-23 budget approved by the Pennsylvania Legislature includes $220 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) money to be earmarked for a Clean Streams Fund.

Local state Sen. Dan Laughlin was one of three state senators that spearheaded the creation of the fund. State Sens. Scott Martin and Gene Yaw worked with Laughlin.

The fund will use ARP funds to clean rivers and streams damaged by non-point source pollution, including agricultural runoff, abandoned mine drainage and stormwater management in developed areas.

“I’m happy that we could get this done as part of the budget,” Laughlin said. “In a year where we had this type of surplus, it would be a travesty if we couldn’t invest in our environment the way we have with the Clean Streams Fund. As chairman of the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee and a proud conservationist, I have a million reasons to support healthy and vibrant streams, rivers and waterways. This a win-win-win for Pennsylvanians.”

According to a shared announcement from the three senators, the fund will support a new agricultural conservation assistance program that partners with counties to remediate the affected waterways. The fund also will reward entrepreneurs for discovering new and cost-effective ways to reduce pollution.

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Pennsylvania has more than 85,000 miles of waterways supporting a $26.9 billion outdoor recreation industry and 390,000 jobs, the announcement noted. A third of those rivers and streams are not safe for fishing, swimming or drinking. Polluted streams limit economic opportunity.