HARRISBURG (February 9) –Artesian Water Company recently withdrew its application to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) to expand service to an additional portion of New Garden Township, state Senator Andy Dinniman said today.
Citing “the substantial opposition” to the application and “the cost of continued litigation to an uncertain result,” Artesian’s attorneys filed a motion to withdraw its application before the PUC on February 3.
The latest development comes after the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) approved Artesian Water Company’s proposal to withdraw water from the Broad Run Aquifer for commercial sale in December. The water withdrawal was ostensibly associated with the company’s plans to serve more customers in the proposed expansion area in New Garden, including several properties on Buttonwood, Broad Run and Newark roads in Landenberg and nine other properties eyed for development.
Dinniman, who has been a strong and consistent opponent of the commercial water company’s plan to withdraw water from the Broad Run Aquifer, said it appears that Artesian never intended for the vast majority of the water to stay in Pennsylvania anyway.
“This was our fear from the beginning,” said Dinniman, who last year successfully fought off Artesian’s challenge to his official standing in the PUC case. “As we suspected, it looks like Artesian always planned to use water from the Broad Run to serve its thousands of customers in Delaware. Otherwise, how could they justify the need to take hundreds of thousands of gallons of water per day from the aquifer?”
Dinniman said that while he understood that it was just business as usual for a commercial company that profits off the Commonwealth’s natural resources, he considered Artesian’s legal tactics disingenuous throughout the process.
“Now that Artesian has received DRBC approval to actually take the water, its looks like the application to expand service in Chester County was an afterthought and the water was always going to Delaware,” he said. “I’m concerned that this sets a dangerous precedent in our area regarding water rights and the commercial use of natural resources. Basically, it looks like we’re allowing a large corporation to come in and jeopardize the well water levels of local residents and businesses in order to pipe water out of state.”
Dinniman said that his office will continue 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 carefully watch the project and closely monitor its impact on local streams and wells.
In approving the water withdrawal permit, the DRBC also put in place an expanded water monitoring program and other protections advocated by local residents concerned that the project will deplete their wells.
On Jan. 6, Dinniman wrote to DRBC Chairman Steven Tambini to clarify those protections in writing. Tambini responded in a Jan. 27 letter outlining the specifics of the pumping phase-in and well-monitoring programs that were included in the approval. Read it here.
Dinniman said that he remains concerned about the sheer size of the water withdrawal and its potentially significant and negative impact on residential wells, the local environment, stream ecology, small businesses, and agriculture.
As a result, he has introduced Senate Bills 992, 993 and 994, legislation that will better protect local water resources by entrusting monitoring and testing to county authorities, and requiring the Department of Environmental Protection to consider the potential impact of the water withdrawal plans on private well water supplies. In addition, the bills call for holding private or commercial entities responsible when local wells are depleted as a result of their actions.