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Dinniman: Progress, Need for More Protections in Latest Artesian Well Proposal
WEST CHESTER (November 6) – Recent changes to Artesian Water Company’s proposal to withdraw water from the Broad Run Aquifer show signs of real progress, but there is still more work to be done to protect local residents and natural resources, state Senator Andy Dinniman and concerned citizens said this week.
The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) recently released an updated draft docket of Artesian Water Company’s application to withdraw more than a quarter-million gallons of water from Broad Run per day. The docket is available online here. It will be discussed at the DRBC’s next public hearing on November 10, and could be voted on as soon as its next Business Meeting on Wednesday, December 9.
“While it is encouraging that the DRBC is willing to make adjustments to address a number of the concerns raised regarding Artesian’s proposed testing and monitoring plan during the last (Sept. 16) meeting, we think some additional changes would further protect local residents and the environment,” Dinniman said. “Most importantly, the amount of water the company is seeking to take from the Broad Run needs to be reduced, or at least tied to some benchmarks during a phase-in period.”
Dinniman said that his office continues to work with impacted residents, township officials and members of Save Our Water, a group of residents concerned about the impact of a high-volume, commercial well on homes and businesses in New Garden, London Grove, Franklin, London Britain Townships and the surrounding area to thoroughly review the docket and examine changes to the previous application.
In addition, experts from regional environment organizations like Stroud Water Research Center and the Chester County Water Resources Authority continue to be a tremendous asset in analyzing the project for potential impacts on residential wells and waterways, Dinniman said.
Artesian Water, a Delaware-based company, is seeking approval to withdraw as much as 288,000 gallons of water per day, at a rate of 200 gallons per minute, and over 100 million gallons projected over the course of one year from the aquifer.
“That is the main issue,” Dinniman said. “Residents and environmental experts have clearly demonstrated what a widespread detrimental impact the withdrawal could potentially have on their wells and the local environment. Meanwhile, Artesian has failed to show exactly why it needs that much water to serve its current Pennsylvania customers.”
In addition, Dinniman said that the monitoring of the water withdrawal should be done by an independent agency like the Chester County Water Resources Authority.
Marion Waggoner, a Director of Save Our Water, said, “We are pleased to see the upgrades which the DRBC has made to the stream and ground water monitoring program. However, we have requested further changes which we believe are necessary. Concerned community stakeholders have lost confidence in the reliability of the hydro-geologic analysis from Artesian and do not trust that they would carry out an unbiased monitoring program. Consequently, Save Our Water is committed to long term monitoring of the health of the Broad Run stream independent of Artesian . Perhaps this is an opportunity for the DRBC to leverage an independent organization such as the Chester Country Water Resource Authority to collect data via a collaborative process involving the key stakeholders.”
In September, the DRBC, a regional body governed by five commissioners, each representing Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, New York and the federal government, delayed its decision on the withdrawal application based on the concerns of Dinniman and dozens of local residents.
That marked the third time it has deferred any decision on the application due to objections raised by Dinniman and his constituents about well and natural resource depletion.
Dinniman, local township officials, representatives from regional environmental organizations and members of Save Our Water have long opposed the project.
To move forward, Artesian must clear two hurdles: a water withdraw permit from the DRBC to actually take the water out of the ground and franchise approval from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) to expand its service area.
The proposed new service area goes right up to the state line, raising residents’ concerns that Artesian is positioning itself to pump Pennsylvania water to its tens of thousands of customers in Delaware – something the company has expressed interest in doing in the past.
The PUC is continuing to resolve preliminary objections and has yet to rule on the matter. However, commissioners have assured Dinniman that they plan to hold a public input hearing in the New Garden area before doing so.
This week, Dinniman vowed to continue to fight the issue on both fronts, while expressing concern about the DRBC’s grasp of the seriousness of the situation from a Chester County perspective.
“I think the DRBC heard some of what we said, but I’m very concerned that it may be missing the big picture,” he said. “The sheer amount of water Artesian wants to take from the Broad Run puts the question of water rights and the commercial use of the Commonwealth’s natural resources front and center.
“We have shown the facts and figures to illustrate what a potentially significant and negative impact this project will have on residential wells, the local environment, stream ecology, small businesses, and agriculture in what remains one of the last rural bastions of open space in our county. I hope the DRBC will ultimately listen to the people and the environmental experts, rather than just side with a utility.”
In addition, Dinniman added that numerous constituents have approached him and suggested that it may be time for the legislature to consider rethinking Pennsylvania’s role in the DRBC compact due to situations like the Artesian matter.
*Dinniman also encouraged concerned and impacted residents to submit written public comment to the DRBC prior to the November 12 deadline. Public comment can be submitted:
- By mail to: Commission Secretary, P.O. Box 7360, 25 State Police Drive, West Trenton, NJ 08628;
- By fax to: Commission Secretary, DRBC at 609-883-9522.
- Or by email to: Paula Schmitt to email@example.com and J. Muszynski, Manager, Water Resources Management at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you choose to submit your comments in writing, please be sure to include your full name, address and contact information as well as Docket No. D-2002-034 CP-4.
The Nov. 10th public hearing will begin at 1:30 p.m. and Dec. 9th business meeting will begin at 10:30 a.m. Both are open to the public and will take place at the Washington Crossing Historic Park Visitor Center, 1112 River Road, Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania.
Concerned citizens and impacted residents are encouraged to attend both events and share their views in person.
Those planning to attend the meeting and make comments in person are encouraged to sign up ahead of time by contacting Ms. Schmitt at email@example.com or by calling 609-883-9500 ext. 224.
Tagged with: Senator Andy Dinniman