NVEC Position Statement Re Spring Creek Watershed Action Plan

6.25.18 NVEC SCWAP Press Release (PDF)

PRESS CONTACT: David Roberts, Working Group Chair, NVEC Working Group for Spring Creek Watershed Action Plan (SCWAP), 814-769-0550, nvec2018@gmail.com

Position Statement: Spring Creek Watershed Action Plan

Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition strongly supports the Spring Creek Watershed Commission’s efforts to update and complete a Spring Creek Watershed Action Plan. An early phase of this integrated watershed management plan was last updated in 2003. [2003 Spring Creek Watershed Plan – Phase 1 Report (PDF); 2.6.17 Spring Creek Watershed Plan Executive Summary (PDF)]

We further strongly encourage all interested watershed stakeholders to participate in the Commission’s Tuesday, July 10, 2018 meeting to kick off the process of updating and completing the Spring Creek Watershed Action Plan, to be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Calvary Baptist Harvest Fields building at 150 Harvest Fields Drive, Boalsburg. (Entrance is via Discovery Drive off Business Route-322).

Spring Creek Watershed Commission asks participants to register by Tuesday, July 3.

Summary:

The Spring Creek Watershed needs an integrated watershed management plan[1], defined by the international Global Water Partnership as: “a process which promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources, in order to maximize the resultant economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems.”

Regional and municipal governments and authorities were established to protect public health and safety, including protection and conservation of public water resources.

But recent public disagreements, incursions of development into sensitive, protected areas, aging infrastructure with excessive water loss, and a lack of cooperation between townships demonstrate the urgent need for a science-based regional watershed management plan.

The current actions by the Spring Creek Watershed Commission present a great opportunity for our communities and our representatives to work together to craft an enforceable watershed management plan.

Open and inclusive public involvement is key to project success.

Our understanding is that drafting, adoption and enforcement of a Spring Creek Watershed Action Plan is a multi-phase, multiyear process in which public and stakeholder information and discussion sessions are crucial, bringing people together to discuss, analyze, and resolve water use issues and challenges. Stakeholders include decision-makers and key water advocacy organizations, and the public includes everyone living in the watershed.

Phase 1 – Includes public meetings to clarify our community understanding of the entire system – public water supplies and natural aquatic systems – as one integrated system; to study and evaluate water system risks from land development and from climate-driven impacts; to develop general action plans to protect and conserve existing water resources from further degradation; and to develop action plans – including a water budget – designed to measurably improve and restore streams, wetlands, aquatic ecosystems and water-dependent terrestrial populations, including but not limited to humans.

Phase 2 – Includes development of specific “green” and “blue-green” infrastructure projects[2]; funding mechanisms for those infrastructure projects; and adoption of the final Spring Creek Watershed Action Plan by the participating municipalities and municipal authorities such as the State College Borough Water Authority and the University Area Joint (Sewer) Authority.

Phase 3 – Includes updating municipal codes with enforceable legislation and policies – such as zoning code updates and stormwater management ordinance updates – to implement the Spring Creek Watershed Action Plan at the municipal and municipal authority level.

Some aspects of a watershed plan will be enforceable as soon as the regional plan is adopted by the participating municipalities and municipal authorities, and before adoption of specific implementing local regulations, through state oversight of local development proposals by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA-DEP) under legislative statutes.

For example, a complete, adopted regional Spring Creek Watershed Action Plan would be considered “Local Planning” under Act 537, related to sewage management, which requires all proposed sewer projects to serve existing and proposed land development projects to be assessed for consistency with local planning.  Similarly, the interstate Susquehanna River Basin Commission would likely refer to a complete, adopted Spring Creek Watershed Action Plan when evaluating consumptive use permit applications such as the Nestle bottling facility proposed earlier this year.

Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition therefore asks for citizen support and engagement in the drafting and adoption a regional Spring Creek Watershed Action Plan; in the drafting and adoption of appropriate local municipal legislative and regulatory plan-implementing actions; and in oversight and enforcement of the adopted plan and implementing legislation by local, county, state and inter-state governmental agencies in the years to come.

Our Water is Vulnerable

Centre County has limited, vulnerable water supplies.

The need to protect and conserve our public water resources is growing more urgent from the real threats we face including:

  • Risk of depletion of local water supplies and lowering of water tables
  • Increased potential for groundwater contamination
  • Projections of drought, flooding and other severe weather effects of climate change. For example, droughts reduce the available water stored in the aquifers, heat surface waters and reduce stream flow.  Flooding scours streambeds, damages infrastructure, destroys aquatic habitat, and transports contaminants into water supplies.
  • Development upon sensitive aquifer recharge areas
  • Fragile health of Spring Creek water basin
  • Loss of forested water recharge areas
  • Degradation of riparian stream systems
  • Reduction of flow to named and diffuse fresh water springs
  • Reduction of gaining stream inflow
  • Increased groundwater withdrawals
  • Reduction of cold water habitat for native trout
  • Increased surface and stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces
  • Growing wastewater treatment needs
  • Aging infrastructure

Centre County will continue to face demands to tap our water resources and proposals to expand development into sensitive and fragile watershed areas.

State and local water-protection laws and systems are weak

The Pennsylvania Constitution states that:

“The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.” (Pa. Constitution, Article I, Section 27).

However, our water laws are mostly based on old common law precedents and common law court decisions with few statutory provisions from our state legislators.

These common law precedents did not envision the impacts, challenges and opportunities presented in the 21st Century.

In addition, Pennsylvania generally follows the “American Rule” on water use. However, “The American rule is not designed to deal with conflict between competing users or with drought conditions. Its provisions usually mean that those with the deepest wells and most powerful pumps get the most water.” (State Water Plan, 1976; Weston, 1990).

The 1996 League of Women’s Voters PA water law summary identified a number of problems with Pennsylvania’s laws including:

  • no mechanisms to address potential problems for our future water needs
  • no guarantee that our water rights will continue undiminished
  • no provision for resolution (other than litigation) of competing water uses
  • no provision for increased per capita demand for water
  • no provision for conservation of water
  • no provision for dealing with increase of conflicts during droughts
  • a fragmented system of water management.

Our local existing water management plans are also weak and unenforceable. Centre County has around 48 separate water authorities with independent water management systems and decision-making policies.

Municipal code provisions are fragmented across township boundaries and are failing to function as representative of the general public good with regard to our water resources, which are physically shared across political boundaries.

How a Spring Creek Watershed Action Plan can help.

An integrated watershed management plan will provide an equitable, science-based framework for towns and municipal authorities within the Spring Creek Watershed to manage these threats and to implement the decision-making processes necessary for the conservation, protection, and beneficial use of our public water into the next century.

A successful integrated water plan is a pathway forward and the means for our government representatives to make fair, common sense decisions while considering the water needs of all local stakeholders – including human and other terrestrial animal populations and aquatic ecosystems.

Ideally, the plan will protect our water while helping to avoid potential disagreements between the public, businesses, and our local decision-makers on water management issues.

The benefits of a strong, clear, enforceable regional Spring Creek Watershed Action Plan – and local implementing legislation – include:

  • Availability of fresh, potable water for Centre County’s many and diverse needs
  • A clear approval mechanism for water use
  • Integration of water management across township and municipal boundaries
  • Protection and conservation of watershed basins
  • Proper management of public water resources
  • Equity for shared stakeholders
  • Funding mechanism for infrastructure maintenance and expansion,
  • Restoration and improvement of currently degraded natural aquatic habitats
  • Preservation of recharge areas
  • Increased tourism revenues
  • Enhancement of community recreational opportunities
  • Science based monitoring systems to measure benchmarks and progress
  • Plans to counter potential drought and flood conditions
  • Clearly defined and established goals
  • A mechanism to assure abundant water resources for the next 50 years.

For more information or to get involved with NVEC’s work supporting a Spring Creek Watershed Action Plan, please contact David Roberts, Working Group Chair, NVEC Working Group for Spring Creek Watershed Integrated Management Plan, at the contact information listed above.

[1] For a general overview of integrated water management, visit:

What Is Integrated Water Management?

[2] From Wikipedia: Green Infrastructure or blue-green infrastructure refers to projects that help “solve urban and climatic challenges by building with nature. The main components…include stormwater management, climate adaptation, less heat stress, more biodiversity, food production, better air quality, sustainable energy production, clean water and healthy soils, as well as the more anthropocentric functions such as increased quality of life through recreation and providing shade and shelter in and around towns and cities.”

For a lengthy list of additional informational resources, please download the full press release PDF document: 6.25.18 NVEC SCWAP Press Release

IMPORTANT WATERSHED MEETING JULY 10 in BOALSBURG

The Spring Creek Watershed Commission invites watershed stakeholders to the first of several stakeholder’s meetings to begin the update for the Spring Creek Watershed Plan Management Plan, “Our Challenges and Direction for the Future.”

The meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 10, from 6:30 to 9 PM at Calvary Harvest Fields in Boalsburg.

The goal of this update is to examine The Spring Creek Watershed Plan Phase I Final Report — 2003 Spring Creek Watershed Plan – Phase 1 Report (PDF); 2.6.17 Spring Creek Watershed Plan Executive Summary (PDF) — to delete obsolete information, refresh and upgrade data, add new relevant information, incorporate government roles in addressing watershed issues that create legislative mandates and municipal undertaking relevant to preserving and improving the quality of the Spring Creek Watershed. (Emphasis added)

Spring Creek Watershed Commission values community input on this integrated watershed management plan and hopes many community members will attend. 

Details on how to register will be forthcoming in the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime, please mark this meeting on your calendars.

Spring Creek Watershed Commission is  looking forward to valuable community input and asks people to please reach out via email to springcreekwatershedcommission@gmail.com  with any questions or concerns.

Please come to the meeting with a general understanding of the Phase I report.

EDITOR’S NOTE: 

The Executive Summary is an excellent history of the project, compiled by Bill Sharp in February 2017, explaining that the watershed management planning process stalled in 2003 due to lack of funding and community engagement. With renewed community engagement thanks to the Toll Brothers/PSU attack on the SCBWA Harter-Thomas wellfield recharge areas along Whitehall Road, and the Nestle approach to the Logan Branch sub-basin for water extraction, bottling and export, now is a great time to push the plan forward to create stronger community tools for protecting water.


Executive Summary:

The Spring Creek Watershed Plan Phase 1 Final Report: Our Challenges and A Direction for the Future

Compiled by Bill Sharp, Chair, Spring Creek Watershed Association, February 6, 2017 and reviewed by core members of the Association.

The Spring Creek Watershed Plan was a project of the Spring Creek Watershed Commission. It was funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, facilitated by ClearWater Conservancy and supported by the Centre County Commission. It was compiled by two full-time ClearWater watershed staff and a Project Management Team. It was completed in 2003.

The list of major stakeholders involved included: ClearWater Conservancy, the Centre County Planning Office, the Centre Regional Planning Agency, University Area Joint Authority, the State College Borough Water Authority, the fourteen individual municipalities, the Spring Creek Chapter of Trout Unlimited, the Centre County Conservation District, The Pennsylvania State University, and others.

The stated objective of this phase of the Watershed Plan was “to distill numerous existing plans, research, and data into a clear and concise statement of the challenges facing the watershed and recommend ways that its citizens can meet these challenge in the future.”

The Project Team chose a focused approach resulting in a Challenge – Solution Matrix and supporting narrative. The Matrix sought to identify water resource challenges, potential solutions and in separate columns:

  • Solutions already studied, with referenced publications listed in appendices.
  • Solution needs to be further developed.
  • Opportunity to solve past problems.
  • Opportunity to solve future problems.

The four major components of the Matrix include:

  • Surface water with two main sections: Natural drainages and engineered drainages. Engineered drainage is tied directly to increasing developing and rising population.
  • Groundwater also has two components: Recharge and discharge related to a karst environment.
  • Water supply: Understanding the implications maintaining clean and plentiful drinking water and the challenges of wastewater treatment. Beneficial Reuse was highlighted as a concept that links treatment and consumption by recharging the aquifer.
  • Land Use decisions effect the potential quality of our water resources. There are also existing issues from past decisions that need to be addressed.

The Phase I report includes a narrative section for each of these four major components. Each section presented a number of challenges and potential solutions.

Water Resource Monitoring Project (WRMP):

Since 1998 the Spring Creek Watershed Community has been monitoring the Spring Creek watershed according to a protocol designed by a committee of local water resource experts. This effort continues to the present day. The WRMP has been a mainstay for the greater Watershed Community[1].

A Look to the Future:

Authorization of an effective implementing agency and ensuring sustainable funding will be instrumental in addressing the watershed’s challenges and ensuring the protection of all the interrelated components of our water resource system.

There are four appendices:

  1. Spring Creek Watershed Plans and Studies (17 listed to date of report).
  2. Watershed Plans and Integrated Water Resource Plans from other Watershed (22 items). A location map is provided for plans located in Pennsylvania.
  3. Watershed Related Studies and Resources (16 items)
  4. USGS Conceptual Model Report (Page blank: To be attached as a separate document).

In summary, the Project Team reported that the Phase I study was an important learning experience that “led to a change in overall watershed planning philosophy and the methods that the community will employ to carry out the next steps of the Spring Creek Watershed Planning and Implementation process.”

This was the Matrix.

A vision for continuing the planning and implantation process was outlined (for 2004). The Project team recommended:

  1. Project Selection: The Spring Creek Watershed Commission to prioritize and select the projects to advance to completion as Phase 2 of the Watershed Plan[2].
  2. Implementation: May require additional research, planning, communication, development of tools or processes, identification of funding source and project partner, and most critically, the project’s implementation in the watershed.
  3. Communication: Proposed that the Spring Creek Watershed Community (now Spring Creek Watershed Association) be made “the vehicle to facilitate communication of watershed issues and coordinate watershed-based projects.” It noted that there was currently staffing located at ClearWater Conservancy. It also noted that members of the Spring Creek Watershed Community were already exploring more efficient and effective ways to reach out to watershed stakeholders, evolving from the current Springs & Sinks publication and the website.

Two additional phases were planned:

  • Phase II: Watershed Plan Development (January 2004 – June 2005
  • Phase III: Watershed Plan Implementation (Beyond 2005)

Closing Notes:

DEP discontinued funding for the project. Administrative support for the Watershed Community declined after 2003. The last issue of Spring & Sinks was published November 2003 and discontinued due to lack of funding. The Water Resources Monitoring Program has continued to maintain files of documentation related to the watershed but there has been relatively less reporting of this activity.

The 2003 Watershed Plan document represented the culmination of nearly eight years of work by committed stakeholders in the Spring Creek Watershed Community under the leadership of the Spring Creek Watershed Commission.

Since then there has been a remarkable amount accomplished by major stakeholders which the Spring Creek Twentieth Anniversary Celebration Project (2016) documented and made public.

The Phase I Plan is a sound foundation document. However, thirteen years have lapsed since the completion of this project. Economic development and population in the watershed has actually increased beyond forecast and is expected to continue. Financial and administrative support have been lacking to continue development of the Plan and provide systematic management of the watershed.

With the hiring of Spring Creek Watershed Conservation Coordinator (Lexi Orr) by the Watershed Commission, a degree of administrative capacity has been restored and interest is building to move forward on the Watershed Plan.

[1] “Watershed Community” refers to not only the Watershed Commission and Association and ClearWater Conservancy but also to all entities that have an active interest in managing Spring Creek water resources.

[2] A list of priorities was developed by the Watershed Commission at a public meeting in March 2004.

NVEC Summer Planning and Brief TB/WRRP update

NVEC SUMMER PROJECTS

Info from June 1, 2018 NVEC meeting

NVEC has established five working groups for Summer 2018 projects, with one or two point people for each.

Readers interested in getting more information and/or helping with these projects, please email our main address: nvec2018@gmail.com

The five projects are:

a) Stormstown/Halfmoon Township small area plan (threat to convert 1,000+ acres of farmland to housing.

b) Toll Brothers/Whitehall Road Regional Park issues – see below for some short updates.

c) Nestle fight – tracking whether and where Nestle makes additional attempts in Centre County.

d) Regional Integrated Water Resource Management Plan development and advocacy.

e) Right to Know workshop and possible “Environmental Regulations as they Affect Centre County Issues” workshop – see below for more information about the latter.

BRIEF TB/WRRP UPDATE

At the June 1 meeting, NVEC also had a discussion about Toll Brothers, Whitehall Road Regional Park, and sewage management.

Dave Stone announced that State College Borough Council would be discussing the sewage management options at their Monday, June 4 meeting and that it would be helpful if people came to either speak or support speakers, who would be asking Borough Council to vote to direct Borough staff to engage in discussions with developers about conducting a capacity study related to sending the sewage to the Waupelauni/Whitehall intersection in State College, rather than the Stonebridge/Whitehall intersection in Ferguson Township.

This is related to the issue of how having the large pump station below the proposed WRRP opens up the whole valley for additional development, and trying to prevent that.

We also discussed the need for NVEC reps to ask the State College Borough Water Authority board during public comment:

1) What will be the effect on water customer rates of the TB/WRRP developments? and

2) How much volume of water does SCBWA anticipate the TB/WRRP project will consume?

The second question is related to the varying estimates of the sewage volume to be managed by the new pump station. Estimates range between about 48,000 gallons per day (used by TB and accepted by UAJA and DEP) and 220,000 gallons per day, depending on the calculation formulas used. The highest estimates use 100 gpd per person, and assumes that many students will double-up to have two students occupy some of the 1,093 bedrooms TB plans to construct.

At the June 4, 2018 State College Borough Council meeting, council discussed the issues, and then voted 4-1 to approve a motion by Evan Myers directing staff to reach out to all relevant parties (Toll Brothers, UAJA, SCBWA and/or Ferg. Twp.) to find out, as a preliminary question, whether Toll Brothers is interested in exploring the possibility of running the sewage pipe the shorter distance to State College collection system at Waupelauni and Whitehall instead of running it more than a mile to the UAJA collection system in Ferguson Township at Stonebridge and Whitehall.

The proposed conversations with TB might also include the question of whether TB is willing to pay up to $175,000 or so to conduct a capacity study for the State College Borough sewage collection and conveyance system (the pipes) and, if it turns out capacity expansions are necessary, whether TB would pay for those.

Borough Council did not allocated any funding. It was mostly a matter of directing staff to find out where TB stands on the issues.

  • Votes in favor: Myers, Engeman, Lafer, Murphy.
  • Votes against: Dauler
  • Absent: Brown and Barlow.

Many NVEC members and/or non-member supporters showed up to speak or support speakers, including Dorothy, Don, Bernie, Dave Stone, Scott, Art, Karl, Mark H., Dee, Heather, and others.

For readers interested in watching the discussion and vote on C-Net, it ran from approximately 7:55 to about 8:35 p.m.

STATE & FEDERAL REGULATIONS AS THEY RELATE TO CENTRE COUNTY ISSUES

At the June 1 NVEC meeting, Mark Huncik gave a presentation about two Centre County air quality case studies he’s been involved with, over the last seven years or so.

One case study is the West Campus Steam Plant at Penn State, and its conversion from coal to natural gas/lowering of the emissions stacks/planned addition of electricity generation CT/HRSG boilers at the same time as a construction boom in high-rise apartment buildings in downtown State College.

Long story short, the combination is degrading local air quality by bouncing emissions from the plant off the high-rises and onto the ground in a few “hot spots” downtown.

The other case study is updates and expansions at the UAJA wastewater treatment plant near the Nittany Mall, and their relationship to odor complaints at new housing developments in that area as development moves closer to the sewage treatment facility while the volume of sewage increases with more development in the whole Sewer Service Area (high-rises downtown plus sprawl in the suburbs) and bump-outs of the Regional Growth Boundary.

Dave Stone also explained how Penn State is simultaneously planning a $40-$50 million expansion of the University Drive PSU sewage treatment plant to handle more sewage flow from campus, without reference to odor and air quality impact assessments in the areas around the PSU sewage plant.

NVEC decided to organize some public workshops on “Local, State and Federal Environmental Regulations & How they Affect Centre County Environmental Issues,” to educate the community more about the air quality issues Mark works on, along with water and land issues.

In-depth update

NOTE: These issues will likely be on public meeting agendas for the COG General Forum on May 29, and the State College Borough Council on June 4.


SCBWA May 17 easement vote, UAJA financial/legal liability for public water contamination, and the power to make things better. – 5.21.18 Bailiwick News (PDF)

Continuation from 5.1.18 Bailiwick News and 5.7.18 Bailiwick News

UAJA Ratepayers On the Hook

UAJA insurance policy, received from Cory Miller on May 18, in response to RTK request May 15.

KW requested:

  1. Complete, unredacted each entity’s insurance policies, including any and all provisions voiding said policies if the insurer can prove misrepresentation, fraud and/or non-disclosure of risks and/or risk factor reports by the insured entity to the insurer, and/or negligence and/or gross negligence on the part of the insured party during engagement in project siting, design, review, endorsement, approval, permitting, financing, construction, operation and/or maintenance.
  2. Emails, letters, reports, meeting minutes and all other written records relating to legal identification of responsible party and assignment of financial liability for potential public water contamination related to a sewage pump station, sewage transmission pipelines and/or stormwater basins to be located on or adjacent to facilities and/or land owned and controlled by [the public entity] – such records created, transmitted by and/or received by your public entity between Jan. 1, 2015 and the present.

Re: Question 1, Cory Miller, UAJA Executive Director, provided the insurance policy:

UAJA Package Policy SEL 12-31-17

Re: Question 2, Miller replied:

“UAJA is always responsible for any environmental impact of any sewer infrastructure that we own.  To my knowledge, there are no records of the type requested, since who is responsible was never in question. ..UAJA will be the owner of all of the sewer mains within the development, and thus assumes all liability for those facilities. That does not include the customer service lines from the main to each building.  Those are owned and maintained by the property owner.  Thus, UAJA has no liability for those customer service lines.”

Gist:

UAJA and its ratepayers will be liable for any and all contamination of SCBWA water wells resulting from a sewage system malfunction, starting at the point where sewage enters the gravity mains on the TB and WRRP site from the small customer lines going to the residential units and the WRRP bathrooms.

TB and WRRP will be responsible for those individual customer lines, but UAJA will be liable for any incidents involving the gravity mains taking sewage to the pump station, for the pump station and wet well themselves, and for the force main taking the sewage up the hill, along Whitehall, to Stonebridge and on to the treatment plant.

More detailed analysis of the policy language: Bailiwick News, May 21, 2018

3-3 tie at SCBWA

Result of vote at State College Borough Water Authority May 17 meeting, on a motion to approve the easement requested by Toll Brothers, was a 3-3 tie, which had the effect of simply taking the issue off the table again. SCBWA did not grant the easement, so Toll Brothers currently does not have permission to install a sewage line on SCBWA land.

Votes to approve the easement were cast by Jeff Kern, Emory Enscore and Jason Grottini.

Votes to deny the easement were cast by Rachel Brennan, Bill Burgos and Bernie Hoffnar.

Gary Petersen was absent.

The motion could be reintroduced at an upcoming meeting, in June at the earliest.

More details to follow via Bailiwick News edition.

Concerned citizen digs into Toll Brothers sewage planning claims

Concerned citizen writes:

I read the most recent post regarding the upcoming SCBWA meeting and something got my attention.

The number of wastewater gallons referred to in the article (47,950 gallons per day/gpd) seemed a little suspicious to me given that the limit for DEP approval without public notice is 50,000 gallons.

I spent a few hours digging around and have determined that Toll Bros. left out a few key factors in their calculation, namely their outbuildings, offices, and swimming pool.

According to the UAJA updated flow rate sheet, the following amounts should have been included in the application to DEP:

Additional buildings including clubhouse and pool maintenance building equal to 19,499 sq. ft. according to the proposed plan.

UAJA counts one EDU per 3,000 feet of building = 6.5 EDU

If the clubhouse has showers, there should be an additional 2 EDU added.

Office space that employs fewer than 10 people should be included as 1 EDU.

The swimming pool should be calculated at 2 EDU per filter (I could not find information on the number of filters) but there is also a hot tub so probably two or more filters involved. In addition to the 2 per filter, swimming pool EDUs are added for the average number of patrons x 10 gpd.

There is an outdoor bar which, I assume has a water supply but I couldn’t find any info on how that would be calculated by UAJA.

The number of 5 bedroom units is total b.s. as the joint authority calculates all EDUs the same regardless of number of bedrooms.

This is very convenient for Toll Brothers.

These additional EDUs may or may not add up to 50,000 but either way, if their application is incorrect, it should be brought to the attention of the DEP.

The DEP website states that it will not review the applicants information for accuracy and relies on the truthfulness of the applicant. I think we all can agree that Toll is less than trustworthy.

I am attaching a few screen shots from my research.

Further:

The amount of gpd (175) that was used for calculation is coming from the UAJA rate sheet which is used to calculate utility cost.

However, Pennsylvania code calculates the rates of wastewater usage much differently.

For the purposes of building a new sewer or septic, the calculations are 100 gpd per person plus additional for out buildings, swimming pools, etc. [Editor’s Note: The citation is to state law for on-lot sewage systems, not connections to regional sewage treatment systems. Act 537 covers community wastewater treatment rules.]

This number – 1oo gpd –  is consistent with many other communities [i.e. Pittsburgh] and with the EPA estimate.

Here is the breakdown of units at The Cottages:

  • 1 bedroom apartments = 0
  • 2 bedroom = 17
  • 3 bedroom = 35
  • 4 bedroom = 126
  • 5 bedroom = 90

I would not put it past Toll Brothers to increase the number of high bedroom units knowing that no matter how many bedrooms, they are only required to count each apartment as 1 EDU….for the purposes of billing.

Now, considering that college students typically double and even triple up on occupancy and that PA code requires calculating 100 gpd of wastewater usage per person…the math is scary.

At 1,093 people, which is the total number of bedrooms, they are already at least double the volume of wastewater usage than what they reported to DEP. [1,093 x 100 gpd = 109,300 gpd to Cottages + WRRP sewage pump station, wet well and high-pressure force main]

If their bedrooms become double occupancy (very likely that many of them will) The Cottages sewer pump and new pipeline will need to handle 218,600 gallons of wastewater per day.

A pump that is built to handle just a fraction of that, only 47,950 gpd, doesn’t stand a chance.

And with no contingency plan in place in case of failure…you know the rest.

SCBWA board meeting Thursday at 4 p.m.

The State College Borough Water Authority board is likely to vote on an easement request submitted by Toll Brothers/PennTerra on Thursday, May 17 at 4 p.m. at 1201 West Branch Road. Public attendance and comment welcome.

Context information below.


Three risk assessments, five Right to Know requests, three DEP Sewage Planning Module documents, 28 facts and probabilities, with caveats, and three costly contamination scenarios.

Three risk assessments:

Five Right to Know requests, asking for:

  1. Complete, unredacted [SCBWA/UAJA/Ferguson Township/CRCOG/CRPRA] insurance policies, including any and all provisions voiding said policies if the insurer can prove misrepresentation, fraud and/or non-disclosure of risks and/or risk factor reports by the insured entity to the insurer, and/or negligence and/or gross negligence on the part of the insured party during engagement in project siting, design, review, endorsement, approval, permitting, financing, construction, operation and/or maintenance.
  2. Emails, letters, reports, meeting minutes and all other written records relating to legal identification of responsible party and assignment of financial liability for potential public water contamination related to a sewage pump station, sewage transmission pipelines and/or stormwater basins to be located on or adjacent to facilities and/or land owned and controlled by [the public entity] – such records created, transmitted by and/or received by your public entity between Jan. 1, 2015 and the present.

Three DEP Sewage Planning Module documents from 2015:

28 facts and probabilities, with caveats:

  1. The Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors, on November 16, 2015, granted final approval to a Planned Residential Development (PRD) land development plan for construction of a1,093-bed Cottages student housing development, on roughly 46 acres of land then owned by Penn State, but now owned by State College Apartments LLC.
  2. The approved Cottages land development plan did not include a sewage management system for the 1,093 students to be housed at the site.
  3. All but 5.5 acres of the 46 acres were, since 2004, zoned Multifamily Residential (R-4) and, as of November 16, 2015, all but 5.5 acres of the 46 acres were zoned PRD (Planned Residential Development). The remaining 5.5 acres were not made part of the PRD plan, but instead remain outside the PRD and remain zoned Rural Agricultural (RA).
  4. The Cottages development was designed with two large stormwater detention basins sited on those 5.5 acres that are not included in the Planned Residential Development zoning, and are zoned Rural Agricultural, but are still part of the parcel-complex owned by State College Apartments LLC.
  5. The municipal zoning violation – stormwater detention basins as a primary use on RA land – was the subject of a lawsuit (land use appeal) filed by Nittany Valley Water Coalition in December 2015. The Ferguson Township approval was overturned in July 2016 by Centre County Court of Common Pleas Judge Jonathan Grine. Judge Grine’s ruling was reversed in May 2017 by Pa. Commonwealth Court. The Pa. Supreme Court declined a petition for appeal in November 2017.
  6. Under the Terms and Conditions of the Cottages PRD approval by Ferguson Township on November 16, 2015, an executed Stormwater Management Agreement was to be signed and on file before approval of the PRD. As of April 9, 2018, Ferguson Township had no executed Stormwater Management Agreement on file.
  7. Under the Terms and Conditions of the Cottages PRD approval by Ferguson Township on November 16, 2015, sections regarding responsibility for stormwater management facilities refer only to facilities “within the PRD.” However, the two main stormwater management facilities (large detention basins) are located on 5.5 acres that are not “within the PRD.” This strongly suggests that the private owner of the Cottages PRD land (State College Apartments LLC) and their successors are not legally responsible for the maintenance, operation and damages from failure of the stormwater detention basins and resulting public water contamination.
  8. The Centre Region Parks & Recreation Authority submitted a Land Development Plan (LDP) to Ferguson Township for the Whitehall Road Regional Park several years ago. The LDP was withdrawn after several years of delays. There is currently no active LDP submitted to or under review by Ferguson Township. The CRPRA is currently working on design, permitting and construction plans to present to the Centre Region Council of Governments General Forum at General Forum’s late-May meeting.
  9. The WRRP land development is to be funded by taxpayers, through the Centre Region Council of Governments General Forum by way of the CRCOG Parks Capital Committee, through the Centre Region Parks & Recreation Authority, through a Fulton Bank loan.
  10. The Cottages land development is to be funded by private investors, through Toll Brothers, doing businesss as Springton Pointe, doing business as “State College Apartments LLC,” which was incorporated in Delaware on December 13, 2017, through registered agent “The Corporation Trust Agency,” headquartered at 1209 Orange Street, Wilmington, along with about 285,000 other shell corporations as of 2012, according to the New York Times: (“How Delaware Thrives as a Corporate Tax Haven,” June 30, 2012).
  11. After incorporation on December 13, 2017, State College Apartments LLC closed a transaction with Penn State University on December 21, 2017, purchasing the 46 acres for $13.5 million. The deed transfer was recorded December 22, 2017. It’s possible that State College Apartments LLC is a wholly-owned subsidiary shell corporation of Penn State University formed to protect Toll Brothers from the financial risks of additional project delays; the names of the directors are not public information.
  12. PA-DEP and UAJA have both approved a “sewage planning module” related to the Cottages + Whitehall Road Regional Park sewage pump station and force main (i.e. uphill) sewage conveyance pipeline. As of February 2015 documents, the sewage pump station, wet well and pipeline were intended to process 46,900 gallons per day of raw sewage from the students living in the Cottages (268 EDUs @ 175 gpd), and 1,050 gallons per day of raw sewage from visitors to the Whitehall Road Regional Park (6 EDUs @ 175 gpd).
  13. The Cottages + WRRP Sewage Pump Station is not proposed to be constructed on private land owned by State College Apartments LLC.
  14. The Cottages + WRRP Sewage Pump Station is proposed to be constructed on public land owned jointly by Centre Region Council of Governments and Ferguson Township – on a portion of 100 acres slated for WRRP development, which is zoned Rural Agricultural (RA).
  15. It is possible – nay, likely – that the Cottages + WRRP Sewage Pump Station and sewage conveyance pipeline – with a combined capacity of 47,950 gallons per day, of which 2% is for park visitors and 98% is for Cottages residents – will be included in a forthcoming Land Development Plan submitted by the Centre Region Parks & Recreation Authority to Ferguson Township for the Whitehall Road Regional Park development.
  16. The Borough of State College has the sewage capacity and has in the past indicated a willingness to accept up to 1,050 gallons per day of WRRP sewage through a gravity (downhill) line conveying the public, park visitor sewage along Whitehall Road to an interceptor near the intersection of Waupelani and Whitehall and from there to the UAJA treatment plant off Shiloh Road.
  17. The Borough of State College has in the past indicated an unwillingness to accept the 46,900 gallons per day of student sewage from the Cottages, preferring to reserve large volume private-development sewage capacity for Borough development, rather than expend it on Ferguson Township development.
  18. Apparently sometime after the Pa. Supreme Court declined to review the Nittany Valley Water Coalition case in November 2017, and the present, the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority issued a letter to State College Apartments LLC/Toll Brothers/Springton Pointe and/or the project engineer, PennTerra Engineering, consenting to State College Apartments LLC siting the Cottages + WRRP Sewage Pump Station and associated pipeline on the public land owned jointly by CRCOG and Ferguson Township for the future public park.
  19. Ferguson Township was not notified of the CRPRA planned action or given an opportunity to review or approve the consent action taken by the Parks Authority board.
  20. There is no DEP public notice requirement for sewage systems proposed to increase sewage flows by less than 50,000 gallons per day.
  21. State College Apartments LLC/PennTerra will site, design, fund and construct the Cottages + WRRP Sewage Pump Station and force main conveyance pipeline.
  22. After construction, UAJA will own, operate and maintain the Cottages + WRRP Sewage Pump Station and force main conveyance pipeline.
  23. By email May 10, 2018 in response to a question about “the contingency plan if a sinkhole opens under or near the extra-large wet well at the Toll Brothers pumping station, and breaches the holding tank” upslope and near the two main SCBWA public drinking water supply wellfields (Harter and Thomas) UAJA Director Cory Miller replied: “UAJA does not have a contingency plan for a sinkhole opening under or near this pump station, or any other pump station.”
  24. By email May 11, in response to a question about “the contingency plan if a sinkhole opens under or near the extra-large wet well at the Toll Brothers pumping station, and breaches the holding tank” upslope and near the two main SCBWA public drinking water supply wellfields (Harter and Thomas), SCBWA Director Brian Heiser replied, “There is a plan to address sinkhole issues on the approved Cottages site plan. SCBWA would not necessarily shut down wells because of a sinkhole. Each case would be evaluated as needed.”
  25. State College Apartments LLC is currently seeking an easement from the State College Borough Water Authority board to construct the 4,200-foot force main sewage pipeline uphill and across the edge of 60 acres of SCBWA-owned land fronting Whitehall Road, along Whitehall Road to Stonebridge Drive. The easement would nullify a conservation deed restriction placed on the 60-acre parcel when Penn State sold it to SCBWA in 2008.
  26. All three parcels are topped by thin agricultural soils, underlain by bedrock and fragile – sinkhole and fracture-prone limestone karst
  27. A numbered drainage tributary (intermittent stream No. 23045) to Slab Cabin Run crosses all three parcels: the 46-acre Cottages parcel-complex (R-4 + RA-zoned), the 100-acre WRRP RA-zoned park parcel and the 60-acre SCBWA RA-zoned conservation parcel.
  28. The SCBWA board is likely to vote on the easement request on Thursday, May 17 at 4 p.m. at 1201 West Branch Road.

Three contamination scenarios:

Who will pay the costs of any public contamination resulting from the Cottages + WRRP land developments?

Scenario 1 – Pump station, wet well and force main completed, UAJA begins operations, sinkhole forms under wet well or wet well otherwise malfunctions due to poor siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance; raw sewage enters Harter Thomas wells, public water is contaminated, wells are shut down temporarily or permanently.

Scenario 2 – Pump station, wet well and force main completed, UAJA begins operations, pipeline conveying sewage across SCBWA land to Stonebridge Drive breaks or malfunctions, due to poor siting, design, construction, maintenance and/or operations, raw sewage enters Harter and Thomas wells, public water is contaminated, wells are shut down temporarily or permanently.

Scenario 3 – Stormwater basins completed, Toll Brothers or their successor begins operations/maintenance, sinkhole opens under basins or stormwater basins otherwise malfunction and overflow due to poor siting, design, construction, maintenance and/or operations; unfiltered runoff enters Harter and Thomas wells, public water is contaminated, wells are shut down temporarily or permanently.

Documents

Update – Sewage management planning for Toll Brothers development

State College Borough Water Authority preparing to vote on Toll Brothers April 2018 application for easement to construct sewage pipeline across SCBWA-owned, deed-restricted land. 

5.7.18 Bailiwick News (PDF)

The State College Borough Water Authority (SCBWA) Source Water Protection Committee will be reviewing a Toll Brothers easement application during a closed meeting on Tuesday, May 8.

The full SCBWA board will be voting on the easement application during a public meeting on Thursday, May 17.

Concurrently, Centre Region Parks and Recreation Director Pam Salokangas is preparing to give a status update on the Whitehall Road Regional Park (WRRP) planning process at the May 29 Centre Region Council of Governments (COG) General Forum meeting…

As today’s edition went to press, Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition was preparing a memo to the SCBWA Source Water Protection Committee supporting long-term reduction of public water contamination risks through two proposals.

First, NVEC will propose that the water authority board require – in exchange for SCBWA granting the easement – a legally-binding commitment by UAJA (as the operator of the sewage treatment facilities) and by Penn State, Toll Brothers and Ferguson Township/COG (as owners of the land in the immediate vicinity of the pump station) to forego any and all additional land development in the Zone 2 recharge areas apart from The Cottages and the Whitehall Road Regional Park Phase 1 plan.

If the water authority does not obtain such concessions, the SCBWA board’s action to approve the easement, coupled with the large capacity of the currently-designed sewage treatment facility, exposes the Harter and Thomas wells to the significant and cumulative risks of additional development in the recharge area, while undermining the intended purpose of the 2008 protective covenant.

Second, NVEC will propose that the water authority work with Ferguson Township, Centre Region Council of Governments, and the Centre Region Parks & Recreation Authority to reassign ownership of two parcels, so that the Whitehall Road Regional Park Phase 1 plan can be constructed on a portion of the more level, 60-acre parcel fronting Whitehall Road (currently owned by SCBWA).

If the swap were successful, the sloped, lower 100 acres currently owned by COG and Ferguson Township would be conserved for passive uses and sourcewater protection through reforestation, pollinator plantings, grassland carbon capture, and other ecologically restorative land uses.

Such a land swap has the potential to protect more fragile, more sloped land from excavation, grading and paving, while creating a regional opportunity to strengthen the regional growth boundary…