Reminder – Spring Creek Watershed Commission Forum Tomorrow

Spring Creek Watershed Commission Forum on Understanding and Stewarding Water Quantity and Quality in the Spring Creek Watershed 

Date/Time/Location for Facilitated Forum:

Overview:

The Spring Creek Watershed Commission offered to convene a forum on understanding and stewarding water quantity and quality in the Spring Creek watershed. The purpose of this forum is to bring people together to identify issues and think about what the future might look like for the Spring Creek watershed. This initial forum will help set the stage for additional work in 2018 and beyond on a watershed plan for Spring Creek.

All are welcome; if you are planning to attend, please RSVP online to ensure we have enough seats, handouts, and food.

This will be a facilitated forum led by Professor Lara Fowler and her law students who are enrolled in an environmental mediation course at Penn State Law. They will be conducting a series of interviews in advance of the forum; if you are interested in talking with them, please contact Lara Fowler at lbf10@psu.edu.

Draft Agenda (subject to change):

6:30 PM – Welcome, Pledge of Allegiance- Denny Hameister, Chair, Spring Creek Watershed Commission

6:40 PM – Purpose of forum, review breakout group process- Lara Fowler, Penn State Law

6:50 PM – Facilitated breakout groups- facilitated by Penn State Law students

  1. What issues or challenges do you see for the future of the Spring Creek watershed?
  2. What is your vision for Spring Creek watershed in 10-15 years?
  3. What steps might be needed to get from where we are now to where you would like the watershed to be in the future?
  4. What does watershed planning look like to you, and how do you or others want to be involved in the watershed?
  5. Other?

7:50 PM – Report back from breakout groups, discussion

8:30 PM – Discussion of next steps

8:45 PM – Wrap up

Opportunity to Participate Online Through Placespeak

In addition, we have created a way for people to participate in these questions through Placespeak.

Follow the instructions for creating a profile and logging into the discussion.

Contact information and data gathered through this online process will be used only to invite you to further discussions and to inform the Watershed Commission’s future watershed planning process.

Nestle not taking over Spring Township PW-2

Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition & Sierra Club Moshannon Group Press Release

April 17, 2018  – Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition and the Sierra Club Moshannon Group wish to thank our community for standing with us against Nestle Waters’ proposed plan to take millions of gallons of water from our aquifer and ship it out of the Spring Creek Watershed. Nestle reported yesterday that “… we have decided not to proceed with STWA [Spring Township Water Authority] Well 2 and instead to continue to look for sources elsewhere.”

Nestle’s decision is a victory for democracy.

If Nestle should attempt to take water from our aquifer elsewhere in Centre County, we will be there to fight back.

Contact: Terry Melton, NVEC, 814-883-8154, terrymelton321@gmail.com


Eric Andreus’ Press Release

—– Forwarded Message —–
From: Andreus,Eric,Breinigsville, NWNA T&P MID Springs <Eric.Andreus@waters.nestle. com>
Sent: Monday, April 16, 2018, 4:31:01 PM EDT
Subject: Nestlé Waters project update

Good afternoon,

Over the past year, Nestlé Waters has revised the process of how we approach sourcing spring water. Guided by our new Siting Framework, we approached the Spring and Benner Township community much earlier in our due diligence process than we typically have in the past. At the same time, we continued to conduct our due diligence and water source evaluation.

We have spent the last few months in the early stages of our thorough scientific review to evaluate whether Spring Township Water Authority Well 2 had the potential to become a water source for our Deer Park® brand. As part of that review, we consider many factors, including the quality and taste of the water, what the science tells us about the hydrogeology and sustainability of the site, the local watershed, the logistics of transporting the product to the market, and much more.  Our rigorous process means that we evaluate far more potential sources than we ever decide to use. The majority do not meet our needs.  At this point in the process of considering the source, we have decided not to proceed with STWA Well 2 and instead to continue to look for sources elsewhere.

We sincerely appreciate that many people in the community welcomed us so warmly and embraced our proposed project. This support is one of many reasons that Centre County remains a leading candidate in our search for a third Pennsylvania bottling factory location, with 50 jobs and an initial investment of $50 million.

We remain optimistic that we can find a source here in northern Centre County so that we can bring jobs and investment to the area in the near future. We will continue to be available in our Centre County office and by phone and email, and we hope that residents who know about other potential spring sites we should consider will reach out to us.

Please feel free to reach out to me in the coming days and weeks. We remain hopeful that there will be another opportunity to do business in this community in the future, and I look forward to continuing to work with community leaders to make that happen.

Sincerely,

Eric Andreus, P.G., Natural Resource Manager, Deer Park Natural Spring Water, Nestle Waters North America


Centre Daily Times

Contact CBICC

The Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County has been involved in encouraging Nestle to site a water bottling plant in Centre County, purchase public water at $4.75 per thousand-gallons and export the water for private sale at about $7,500 per thousand-gallons. (See, for example, E-mail 12E-mail 13Email re Jan. 4 meetingE-mail 17. No minutes were kept for these meetings, despite the presence of elected and appointed government officials. 3.23.18 N. Corman RTK Letter3.23.18 N. Corman RTK Affidavit)

CBICC is also promoting the project at its website landing page.

If you’d like to let CBICC leaders and members know what you think of the plan, and CBICC’s use of taxpayer funds to support it (through municipal annual dues for CBICC “government” memberships), you can comment at CBICC’s Facebook page.

For reference, here’s a list of CBICC executives and board members:

  • Vern Squier, President & CEO
  • Jennifer Myers, Vice President, Economic Development
  • John Sepp – PennTerra Engineering, Board Chairman
  • Bob O’Donnell – SCASD Superintendent, Board Vice-Chairman
  • David Gray, PSU Vice President for Finance and Business, Board Secretary
  • Bill Kelly, Baker Tilly, Board Treasurer
  • William Joseph, First National Bank
  • Betsy Dupuis, Babst Calland
  • Mark Morath, Hospitality Asset Management Co.
  • Cristin Long, McQuaide Blasko
  • OJ Johnson, OJ Johnson Consulting
  • Tom Fountaine, State College Borough Manager
  • Ted McDowell, Ameriserv Bank
  • Barb Bowker, PSECU
  • Tammy Gentzel, Centre County United Way
  • Richard Makin, Central PA Institute for Science and Technology
  • Michael Pipe, Centre County Commissioner
  • Adam Brumbaugh, College Township Manager

April 18 – Watershed Forum

Please find attached a flyer related to the April 18, 2018 watershed forum.

This forum is being convened by the Spring Creek Watershed Commission, and facilitated by a Penn State Law environmental mediation class being taught this semester as a Sustainable Communities Collaborative project.

As noted in the flyer, the goal for the forum is to better understand participants’ perspectives on current water-related topics; what they might imagine for the future; how we might get from the present to the future; and how people might wish to engage in watershed planning.

By using facilitated breakout groups to allow people time to really discuss these topics, the watershed forum will help start a longer watershed planning process being conducted by the Spring Creek Watershed Commission.

Details for the April 18, 2018 forum are below, and in the attached flyer.

  • Wednesday, April 18, 2018, 6:30–8:45 PM (light refreshments will be served)
  • Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science (CPI), 540 N Harrison Rd, Bellefonte, PA (parking is free)
  • RSVP online to ensure we have enough seats, handouts, and food

All are welcome to participate in the discussions; please feel free to invite others who may also be interested.

In addition, interested people are invited to learn more about the Spring Creek Watershed and to participate in an online discussion forum through a program called “Placespeak.”

The vision of Placespeak is to allow people to make a meaningful impact on the communities in which they live, work and play. Penn State has paid for a subscription to this program to allow more people to participate in the discussions; to register and participate, see

Let me know if you have questions, and in the meantime, many thanks for helping spread the word.

Lara Fowler

Senior Lecturer, Penn State Law
Assistant Director for Outreach & Engagement
Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment

Andrew McKinnon Remarks to Ferguson Township Supervisors – April 2, 2018

Liability for water contamination: who will pay?

On April 2, the Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors held a public hearing on the Steckler Petition:

“We, the undersigned, believe the Harter and Thomas Wellfields have been put unnecessarily at risk to pollution by the selling of Penn State University land, at Whitehall Road, to the Toll Brothers Developers, in order to build student housing, to be known as “The Cottages at State College.” Since the acreage being developed is directly upland of these wells, and the geology is known as karst topography, the likelihood of runoff, regardless of detention and infiltration basins, seems probable as we enter into an era of extreme weather events due to Climate Change.

Therefore, we respectfully request Ferguson Township require written confirmation, prior to construction, that PSU and Toll Brothers are to be held financially responsible, in perpetuity, for any pollution to these wells directly attributable to the Cottages Development. And that the residents/taxpayers/rate-payers of Ferguson Township would not bear the financial burden should our water be rendered polluted by this development, which was pushed forward unguided by the Precautionary Principle and despite citizens concerns and actions of dissent.”

Ferguson Township Resident Andrew McKinnon presented the following remarks:

Against widespread public opposition to the Cottages development, Penn State has chosen to forge ahead with plans to develop 44 acres of prime farmland and breathtaking scenery while placing the State College water supply at risk.  These are resources rightfully allocated to the public trust, but Penn State not only insists on destroying the landscape but also claims it has no liability in the event the water is contaminated. This hands off position – essentially a “have our cake and eat it too” attitude – that is, we’ll accept all the benefits of development but assume none of the risks, must be confronted.

In this spirit I would like to briefly describe the hydrogeological risks to the State College water supply posed by the Cottages development in order to emphasize that Penn State and its developer, Toll Brothers, must be held financially accountable if activities associated with the site pollute our drinking water.

I have a B.S. in Geology and worked for 12 years in hydrogeology in the Centre Region.  It is well known that the Nittany Valley is underlain by fractured carbonate rock, that is, limestone and dolomite, and the primary way that water flows through such rock is via fractures and conduits.  Surface evidence of this karst terrain is in the form of caves, sinkholes and other closed depressions, as well as fracture traces, which are usually seen as linear features on aerial photographs.

The Cottages is to be located in the Zone 2 wellhead protection area, and therefore in the recharge zone, for the Thomas and Harter wellfields that supply two thirds of the drinking water for State College.  The site lies about one mile upgradient from the Thomas wellfield and one and a half miles upgradient from the Harter wellfield. Dye trace studies suggest that water, and thus water borne contaminants, could travel 300 or more feet per day from the site to the wells, thereby potentially reaching them in a matter of weeks.  Potential contaminants from the site include oil, gasoline, grease, glycol, deicing agents, chemical spills, and coliform bacteria.

A prominent fracture trace has been mapped on the site.


Portion of Figure 3, p. 76, 2007 State College Borough Water Authority Source Water Protection Report – Dashed lines are fracture traces. Diamonds are sinkholes. Triangles are public water wells.


Part of it manifests as the swale that runs across the site downslope from Whitehall Road.  This swale is quite close to where the basins for stormwater captured from the site have been placed.  Because of the way such basins are constructed, such as through compaction of soils and therefore decreasing the number of natural pores in the soil, contaminated stormwater could become channeled and enter the swale, percolate downward into the groundwater system, and flow southeast toward the Thomas and Harter wellfields.

Alternatively, stormwater could flow into existing sinkholes (several have been mapped in the vicinity of the site) or create new sinkholes and enter the groundwater system.  Indeed, the significant alteration of topography and soils at the site through grading, increasing the amount of impervious surfaces, and channeling of stormwater flow increases the risk of sinkhole formation, providing direct avenues for contamination to enter the subsurface.  Finally, risk is elevated because even if the soils on the site are not altered through compaction or other disturbance, they are generally thin in this area and therefore have limited filtration capacity. Also, the depth to bedrock is shallow, allowing contamination to reach the groundwater system relatively quickly.

In conclusion, I am concerned that activities associated with development or operation of the Cottages puts our drinking water at risk.  This is in addition to the guaranteed destruction of open space, farmland, and scenery enjoyed by residents, many of whom may have come to the area because of these natural attractions.  Unfortunately, it may be too late to save the land, but at least we can save our water. I respectfully ask you to hold Toll Brothers and Penn State accountable for any degradation of our drinking water.


Additional reporting in April 8, 2018 Bailiwick News – 4.8.18 Bailiwick News (PDF)

 

David Roberts Rebuttal to Dan Hawbaker Advertisement

By David Thomas Roberts, Resident, Benner Township

I wish to respond to Dan Hawbaker’s paid advertisement in the Centre County Gazette, published April 5, 2018 (p. 4) regarding Nestle’s proposed water bottling plant.

I was born in Centre County in 1952 and I am also concerned about the direction we are heading.

I do not own a large construction company and I do not stand to gain a large contract to build Nestle’s bottling plant.

However, I am a well-informed citizen with serious concerns about the move to extract large volumes of water from the Gatesburg karst limestone aquifer for commercial gain.

Hawbaker’s statement that “segments of the County are relying on emotion, opinion, and careless rhetoric” – to describe what is actually an attempt at healthy debate by concerned public citizens with many relevant questions – is less than ingenuous.

Hawbaker himself stated a few opinions and may be using careless rhetoric.

Impacts on Logan Branch are key

Hawbaker repeated a statement from Nestle that they will withdraw an equivalent of only three tenths of one percent of the water flowing through Spring Creek as measured at the Milesburg US Geological Survey stream gauge. There is truth in that statement. However, that statement is very misleading.

The real impact will be to Logan Branch, which is a gaining stream that receives its baseflow from cold water springs that are fed through fissures in the Gatesburg limestone formation.

Stream baseflow studies in the Susquehanna River Basin Commission’s 1997 report indicate the groundwater baseflow into Spring Creek averages 88% of the stream’s total flow. Similar average baseflow of 88% may be assumed for Logan Branch. Therefore, any reduction of the groundwater baseflow to Logan Branch will have significant impact on the total flow of water in Logan Branch.

Median stream flow in the lower Logan Branch near Bellefonte is highest during March, at about 140 cubic feet per second (cfs). However, during summer months the Logan Branch stream flow is only about 60 cfs or less.

Logan Branch stream flows at Pleasant Gap range from about 50 cfs to 15 cfs. This evidences the fact that Logan Branch gains a large amount of flow as it progresses toward Bellefonte.

The minimal testing done for the Spring Township Water Authority (STWA) “Cerro Well/PW-2” – the well producing the water Nestle proposes to bottle and export – was done during March, when Logan Branch is at its highest.

No testing has been done (or if it’s been done, it hasn’t been released to the public) during hot summer months with low water levels, when brook trout in local waterways are endangered by temperature exposure above 70° Fahrenheit (F).

The groundwater baseflow from the Gatesburg aquifer provides inflow of 50° F cool water, maintaining the habitats critical for brook trout to survive.

Logan Branch data from the Navitus stream gauge at the old Cerro Plant – now Titan Energy Park – and at the ClearWater stream gauge closer to Bellefonte, are cited in the STWA hydrology report for the Cerro Well/PW-2, prepared by Jim Casselberry.

The Casselberry study reported water levels of about 0.5 feet at the Navitus gauge and about 1 foot at the ClearWater gauge. The water depth in Logan Branch increases by a factor of two between these two gauges, which fairly well bracket the potential impact area to baseflow caused by water withdrawal from well PW-2, indicating there could be significant impact to Logan Branch stream levels.

I must emphasize again, there has been no baseflow evaluation of Logan Branch in the published STWA/Casselberry reports.

Comparisons with prior large-scale withdrawals

In his Gazette piece, Hawbaker repeated another statement from Nestle: that Nestle will only use a quarter of the water Corning-Asahi once used. Again, there is truth in this statement and again, it’s very misleading.

Corning withdrew water from large defined surface springs, as did Cerro Metals.

Nestle, however, proposes to withdraw water from a large-bore 650-foot-deep well: much larger and more than twice as deep as most local wells.

The effect of water withdrawal from karst limestone aquifers is notoriously difficult to determine due to fractures, channels, caves, and underground rivers. Deep karst limestone wells with large rates of water withdrawal have a definite effect on the hydraulic gradients within an aquifer, and these changes in the natural water flow can have unexpected and dramatic effects on surface springs and the baseflow of water into gaining streams.

Very little to no significant test data has been made publicly available to enable a serious public determination of the impact that the withdrawal of 260 million gallons of water per year – or more – from the Gatesburg aquifer will have on Logan Branch’s baseflow and the native brook trout that depend on the cold water habitats the karst limestone springs provide.

The Casselberry hydrology report certainly does not address this question.

There are recognized and established techniques and methodologies to make critical impact assessments of water withdrawal from aquifers that supply water to gaining steams such as Logan Branch. These assessments are not a usual part of local hydrology studies, but they should be if we wish to determine the true impact of consumptive water use in our local aquifer and surface stream systems.

Natural resources are limited

Hawbaker stated he believes Centre County has “vast natural resources.” Yes, Centre County has resources that have helped make Pennsylvania the Keystone State.

However, many of those resources are now depleted. I live in Valley View Village, a few miles from the well under discussion, and within a stone’s throw of huge pits that once held valuable limestone. That limestone is gone, the jobs are gone, and we are left with huge dangerous pits hundreds of feet deep.

We once had iron, copper, and valuable timber. Those “vast resources” are now also gone. All natural resources are limited.

Economic impact of fishing industry

Hawbaker further stated that the economic impact of the Nestle plant is important, but he made no mention of the economic impact to the local fishing industry if Logan Branch overheats in the summer or runs dry in a prolonged drought due to a reduction in baseflow.

The beauty of our natural limestone gaining streams and our native brook trout population is one of the big attractions to residents and to retirees thinking of moving to Happy Valley.

Responsible resource management

Hawbaker also stated that “Utilized properly and responsibly, these resources can continue to support individuals, families, and communities in Centre County.”

I agree with him completely.

The proper and responsible utilization of our resources is exactly what hundreds of local citizens are calling for.

Claims about public opinion

I don’t see where Hawbaker has found a majority of people in favor of the Nestle plant.

However, I have seen more people than can fit in a local water authority meeting room, all very opposed to the Nestle plant.

Water rights

Hawbaker remarked that “Nestle waters would…not independently own or control any water rights.”

But there are many communities in the United States and around the world that have challenged Nestle’s control of water rights when they found their wells and their streams running dry, and immediately ran up against Nestle’s huge staff of corporate lawyers who have convinced many courts that Nestle does control water rights.

Nestle wants to withdraw over twice as much water as the Spring Township Water Authority currently withdraws. STWA withdraws about 120 million gallons of water per year for local use. Nestle will withdraw over 260 million gallons of water per year for consumptive use. There is a significant difference.

At 650 feet deep, the new Cerro Well/ PW-2 that Nestle wants to use is the biggest and deepest well around and is about 50 feet deeper than the STWA Carles Well/PW-1.

Most local private wells are about 300 feet deep or less. If wells or streams start running dry, Nestle will not stop pumping water, since they are in a billion dollar per year water bottling business.

Conclusion

If my statements seem to be “relying on emotion, opinion, and careless rhetoric,” then shame on me.

If the County rushes ahead to approve the Nestle plant without a thorough public vetting and a thorough and critical analysis of impact, then shame on all of us.

Institutional Memory

The Voices article published at the start of the fight to keep high-density development out of the Slab Cabin Run watershed, and the Change.org updates that followed.

2015 Change.org Updates

2016 Change.org Updates

2017 Change.org Updates

2018 Change.org

Change.org updates were mostly written by Katherine Watt, except between Feb. 2016 and May 2017, when they were written by Smita Bharti.

March 27, 2018 Attorney Letter to Spring Township Water Authority

3.27.18 Attorney Letter to STWA

Dear Authority Members:

Please note that we represent residents of Spring Township and the Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition in connection with the above-referenced matter. We understand that the Authority is in the process of negotiating an agreement with Nestlé that would convert public resources to Nestlé.

Based on the information available, there is significant concern that the Authority’s contemplated action would be in violation of the Authority’s obligations under Pennsylvania law. Among these obligations are the Authority’s duties under Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution (“the Environmental Rights Amendment”), which provides, in part, as follows:

“…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.”

The Authority is bound by these duties to the same extent as other Pennsylvania agencies and officials. Robinson Twp. v. Commonwealth, 83 A.3d 901 (Pa. 2013)(Robinson II), and Pennsylvania Envtl. Def. Found. v. Commonwealth, 161 A.3d 911 (Pa. 2017)(PEDF). Indeed, as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has explained,

“Trustee obligations are not vested exclusively in any single branch of Pennsylvania’s government, and instead all agencies and entities of the Commonwealth government, both statewide and local, have a fiduciary duty to act toward the corpus with prudence, loyalty, and impartiality. See Robinson Twp., 83 A.3d at 956–57; see also Pa. L. Journal, 154th General Assembly, No. 118, Reg. Sess., 2269, 2271 (1970).”

PEDF, 161 A.3d at 932 n.23 (emph. added); id. at 940 (Baer, J., concurring).

The water resources that are the subject of the Authority’s contemplated agreement are clearly among the resources protected under the Environmental Rights Amendment. Robinson II, 83 A.3d at 955, 975 (noting that at a minimum, the “public natural resources” protected include “not only state-owned lands, waterways, and mineral reserves, but also resources that implicate the public interest, such as ambient air, surface and ground water, wild flora, and fauna (including fish) that are outside the scope of purely private property”).

The Environmental Rights Amendment “requires each branch of government to consider in advance of proceeding the environmental effect of any proposed action on the constitutionally protected features.” Robinson II, 83 A.3d at 952.

We understand that residents have sought information concerning the proposed agreement, only to be met with delays and denied full access. Please note that, in addition the requirements of the Sunshine Act and Right to Know Law, you have constitutional obligations to promptly provide full information concerning this matter. Robinson II, 83 A.3d at 983 (noting trustee’s “duty of gathering and making available to the beneficiaries complete and accurate information as to the nature and amount of the trust property), citing In re Rosenblum’s Estate, 459 Pa. 201, 328 A.2d 158, 164–65 (1974) (citing Restatement (Second) of Trusts § 173) (right of access to trust records is essential part of beneficiary’s right to complete information concerning administration of trust; right of inspection has independent source in beneficiary’s property interest in trust estate); see also Restatement (Second) of Trusts § 173 cmt. c (“[B]eneficiary is always entitled to such information as is reasonably necessary to enable him to enforce his rights under the trust or to prevent or redress a breach of trust”).

Please be guided accordingly.

Jordan B. Yeager, for Curtin & Heefner LLP