- May 18, 1971 – Environmental Rights Amendment to Pa. Constitution, as adopted by state voters
- Oct. 9, 2001 – Sebastian DeGregorio (Centre Region Senior Planner) memo to Ferguson Township re: proposed extension of Blue Course Drive; inconsistency with regional comprehensive plan and source water protection – 10.9.01 CRPA DeGregorio Letter to Kunkle at Ferguson
- March 29, 2004 Sebastian DeGregorio (Centre Region Senior Planner) memo to Ferguson Township re: proposed rezoning of Penn State-owned parcels; inconsistency with regional comprehensive plan and source water protection – 3.29.04 Centre Region Planning Agency to Ferguson Township Re Whitehall Road Zoning Change
- Jan. 2007 SCBWA Source Water Protection Report – 2007 Source Water Protection Report
- March 17, 2008 Sales Contract, Penn State sale of roughly 60 acres of land to SCBWA, for $383,500; deed restrictions for sourcewater protection; participation in state “Clean and Green” program for tax exemption; and lack of sewer service to the parcel – 3.17.08 PSU to SCBWA Sales Agreement
- May 30, 2008, Deed Transfer for sale by Penn State to CRCOG/Ferguson Township for proposed Whitehall Road Regional Park, 75 acres, for $230,775. Partially funded by PA-DCNR under Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund Act of 1993. ($159,000 from DCNR) – 5.30.08 PSU to FT.COG Deed Transfer WRRP 75
- June 20, 2008 Deed Transfer for sale by Penn State to SCBWA for proposed sourcewater protection parcel, 60 acres, for $383,500 – 6.20.08 PSU to SCBWA Deed
- Aug. 23, 2010 – Whitehall Road Regional Park Master Plan, as adopted by CRCOG General Forum – 8.23.10 WRRP Master Site Plan Full
- May 27, 2011 – Deed Transfer for sale by Penn State to CRCOG/Ferguson Township for proposed Whitehall Road Regional Park, 25 acres, for $375,000. Partially funded by PA-DCNR under Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund Act of 1993. ($183,000 from DCNR) – 5.27.11 PSU to FT.COG Deed WRRP 25
- Nov. 2011 – State College Borough Home Rule Charter, Community Bill of Rights Amendment, as adopted by municipal voters
- Nov. 2012 – Ferguson Township Home Rule Charter, Community Bill of Rights Amendment, as adopted by municipal voters
- April 1, 2015 – Voices of Central Pennsylvania, “Penn State dominance in regional land use planning another example of boundary violations.” – 4.1.15 PSU, Boundary Violations & Civic Trauma
- July 7, 2015 – Transcript, Ferguson Township-SCBWA discussion re: Toll Brothers development – 7.7.15 FT.SCBWA Transcript
- Nov. 11, 2015 – Draft Terms and Conditions between Ferguson Township and Toll Brothers re: development of “The Cottages.” – 11.11.15 Final PRD Terms and Conditions
- Nov. 14, 2015 – Draft, unexecuted “Stormwater Management Agreement” between Ferguson Township and Toll Brothers – 11.14.15 Unexecuted Stormwater Management Agreement
- January 2016 – Transcript, SCBWA representatives to Ferguson Township supervisors re: source water protection – 1.18.16 FT Transcript – Grottini Yoxtheimer
- Aug. 17, 2016 – Ferguson Township memo to Jim Steff, CR-COG, re: “showstopper” issues for Whitehall Road Regional Park, including that SCBWA concerns about risks to water supply from WRRP development would be a “showstopper” for Ferguson supervisors – 8.17.16 FT Letter to COG Re Whitehall Road
- Oct. 19, 2016 – Patton Township memo to Centre Region Parks & Recreation Authority re: no further Patton Township funding for regional parks program, beyond financial obligations already incurred – 10.19.16 Patton Township Letter to Parks Authority re Regional Park Funding
- Sept. 9, 2016 – June 13, 2017 – Bailiwick News “Slab Cabin Run Water and Farmland Protection” series – Bailiwick News Slab Cabin Run Series – Compiled
- June 20, 2017 – Pa. Supreme Court opinion in Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Fund v. Commonwealth re: fiduciary duty of governmental bodies and enforceability of citizen environmental rights under the 1971 Environmental Rights Amendment – 6.20.17 PEDF Supreme Court Opinion
- March 21, 2018 – Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors letter to Centre Region Parks & Recreation Authority re: Whitehall Road Regional Park planning, Ferguson Township interest low-impact design, reforestation, pollinator plantings, and habitat conservation – 3.21.18 FT Supervisor Comments on WRRP Planning
- April 8, 2018 – Bailiwick News, “Liability for water contamination: who will pay?” – 4.8.18 Bailiwick News
- April 9, 2018 – Angela Kalke (Ferguson Township staff) email to Katherine Watt, re: no executed stormwater management agreement for Toll Brothers development on file with Ferguson Township – 4.9.18 Kalke Email to Wattin violation of Terms and Conditions provision requiring execution of agreement prior to municipal project approval. “Section XXXIV. A Stormwater Maintenance Agreement shall be executed prior to Final PRD plan approval.” – 11.11.15 Final PRD Terms and Conditions
- April 19, 2018 – Transcript of C-Net video of SCBWA discussions re: proposed Whitehall Road Regional Park and proposed sewage pipeline easement for Toll Brothers – 5.1.18 Bailiwick News
- April 24, 2018 – SCBWA Letter to Centre Region Parks & Recreation Authority re: proposed Whitehall Road Regional Park and SCBWA board interest in fuller participation in planning and design – 4.25.18 SCBWA Letter to CRPRA re WRRP
- May 3, 2018 – Attorney Yeager letter to SCBWA re: proposed easement, legal implications of covenant on SCBWA land – 5.3.18 Yeager Letter to SCBWA
- May 7, 2018 – Draft Post-Construction Environmental Impact Agreement re: financial liability for mitigation of construction and maintenance-related contamination of public water supplies by Toll Brothers, for review by Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors – 5.7.18 Draft Post-Construction Environmental Impact Agreement
- May 7, 2018 – Bailiwick News – 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
- May 7, 2018 – NVEC Memo to SCBWA Source Water Protection Committee – 5.7.18 NVEC Memo to SCBWA SWPC
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…
April 19, 2018 SCBWA meeting, transcript excerpts
5.1.18 Bailiwick News (PDF)
At the regular meeting of the State College Borough Water Authority on April 19, 2018, the authority board discussed two topics of particular relevance to community efforts to protect public water supplies at the Harter and Thomas wells and Slab Cabin Run – the focus of a grassroots citizen campaign that is now entering its fourth year.
One of the topics was the proposed Whitehall Road Regional Park, and the other was a proposed easement the water authority may grant to Toll Brothers to install a pipe across deed-restricted SCBWA land to convey sewage from a Penn State student housing development and the park to the University Area Joint (Sewer) Authority treatment plant off Shiloh Road.
Following is a transcription of two sections of the meeting video produced by C-Net.
The first section starts just after a presentation by Centre Region Parks and Recreation Director Pam Salokangas about the proposed Whitehall Road Regional Park, running from roughly minute 46 to minute 60. The second section runs from roughly 1:12 to 1:53. [Editorial notes in brackets.]…
…Gary Petersen, SCBWA Board Member
And Cory, if for some reason we had some type of a failure at that site, how do you folks handle that and how quickly is the response?
Cory Miller, UAJA Director
Depends on how fast somebody calls us and lets us know that it’s happening. We do have notification at the pump station, so if we see a drastic change in pressure coming out that’s going through the SCADA [Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition] system, through the, it’s just like your water pumps, so if we see a drastic change in pressure we know something’s wrong out there.
So somebody would get out there. It’s about a 20-minute drive from the plant, for somebody to get out there.
Keep in mind the wet well also has capacity in it. There’s storage capacity in the wet well that we have required and actually overdesigned, so that there’s enough capacity in there so that we have time to deal with these things. So if the force main breaks, we can shut off the force main, shut off the pumps, and fill it into the wet well and simply truck the sewage out of there while we’re working on the force main.
So there should not be a significantly long period of time where you would have sewage going into the ground and into the aquifer. We should be able to detect that pretty quickly, meaning, within an hour or two after it starts. That’s how quick we should be able to fix it meaning stop it, stop the flow, then go out and assess what broke. Did the pipe split? Did a joint fail? Did somebody hit the pipe?
So from your experience, with these kinds of failures, you can respond pretty quickly. Has there been any long-term damage, or any damages from past failures? Or is it something we’re overreacting to?
So, force mains, in the engineering world there’s no such thing as 100% foolproof. There’s always a risk. So a good example of the risk in what happens is our Scott Road pump station. So it’s another long force main coming up from Pine Grove Mills. That force main has broken. It failed at a joint and it failed at another spot where it wasn’t a joint. So we had two opp–, two times where that pump station failed.
It was diagnosed relatively quickly. The first time it took a little bit longer because it was in the middle of a snowstorm and we couldn’t find the spot. We knew something was going on but we couldn’t find it. It took a little bit longer but during that period of time we were hauling the sewage up the hill. So we had pump trucks hauling it up there.
The second time we noticed it fairly quickly because again, we noticed it on the SCADA system, that the pressure at the pumps was way out of whack. Why was it out of whack? The only reason it can be out of whack is because something stuck in the line or the line broke. So we found it and fixed it.
Those — that line also happens to be within your Zone 2 wellhead contribution area.
Jeff Kern, SCBWA Board Chair
And that is not the type of pipe that – it is the PVC pipe. So that’s why we think it’s better with the HDPE pipe. If we had that one to do all over again we would be putting in HDPE pipe…
Spring Creek Watershed Commission Forum on Understanding and Stewarding Water Quantity and Quality in the Spring Creek Watershed
Date/Time/Location for Facilitated Forum:
- Wednesday, April 18, 2018, 6:30-8:45 PM
- Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science (CPI), 540 N Harrison Rd, Bellefonte, PA (parking is free)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
- What issues or challenges do you see for the future of the Spring Creek watershed?
- What is your vision for Spring Creek watershed in 10-15 years?
- What steps might be needed to get from where we are now to where you would like the watershed to be in the future?
- What does watershed planning look like to you, and how do you or others want to be involved in the watershed?
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.
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, email@example.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
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.
Eric Andreus, P.G., Natural Resource Manager, Deer Park Natural Spring Water, Nestle Waters North America
Centre Daily Times
- Nestle Waters makes decision about proposed facility in Centre County, by Shawn Annarelli.
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 12; E-mail 13; Email re Jan. 4 meeting; E-mail 17. No minutes were kept for these meetings, despite the presence of elected and appointed government officials. 3.23.18 N. Corman RTK Letter; 3.23.18 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
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.
Senior Lecturer, Penn State Law
Assistant Director for Outreach & Engagement
Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment
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)
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.
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.
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.
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
- 5.25.15 Change.org Update – Water Authority member asks activists to compile scientific objection report.
- 6.1.15 Change.org Update – Ferguson Township Meeting Tonight; Summer Campaign Plans
- 6.8.15 Change.org Update – Summer Signature Scavenger Hunt
- 6.28.15 Change.org Update – Joint Ferguson Township/SCBWA Work Session Scheduled for July 7
- 7.2.15 Change.org Update – Regis Becker, Penn State’s Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer, opening investigation
- 7.9.15 Change.org Update – PRD Review Deadline Postponed to September 22
- 7.20.15 Change.org Update – Legal Tools for PRD Denial and Corrective Zoning Amendment
- 8.11.15 Change.org Update – Ferguson Township response to legal strategy submission
- 8.18.15 Change.org Update – Toll Brothers/PSU Residential Deadline now postponed to October 20
- 8.28.15 Change.org Update – PSU internal investigation finds no evidence of wrongdoing in land and zoning deals
- 9.3.15 Change.org Update – June 5 plan documents newly available; Sept. 21 regional public land use meeting scheduled
- 9.19.15 Change.org Update – Agenda for Sept. 21 Growth Discussion at Schlow Library: 4:30 P.M.
- 10.6.15 Change.org Update – Deadline for Ferguson Township Decision Postponed Again – Now Nov. 17.
- 10.21.15 Change.org Update – VOTE TIME: Toll Bros Plan Going to FT Planning Commission Nov. 9, Supervisors Nov. 16
- 10.25.15 Change.org Update – October 28 Plan Review – Help Wanted
- 10.29.15 Change.org Update – Update from Laura Dininni Re: Oct. 28 Plan Review.
- 11.5.15 Change.org Update – Holy Guacamole! ALL THREE Water Slate Candidates WON!
- 11.8.15 Change.org Update – Stop Toll Brothers This Monday
- 11.9.15 Change.org Update – January 2007 SCBWA Source Water Protection Report
- 11.10.15 Change.org Update – FT Planning Commission Voted Tonight to NOT Approve the Toll Bros. Plan
- 11.11.15 Change.org Update – NEW PETITION: THANK YOU TO FERGUSON TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSIONERS
- 11.13.15 Change.org Update – Supervisor Meeting Monday at 7 p.m.; Citizen Letter Signers Needed over the weekend
- 11.17.15 Change.org Update – Supervisors Voted to Approve the Toll Bros./PSU Plan
- 11.21.15 Change.org Update – Nittany Valley Water Coalition Forging Ahead
- 11.30.15 Change.org Update – Press Release
- 12.1.15 Change.org Update – Nov. 16 Yeager Letter to Ferguson Supervisors
- 12.7.15 Change.org Update – Up to 15 Plaintiff Households on Board; Attorney Conference Call Tomorrow
- 12.14.15 Change.org Update – Suit to be filed this week; Sewage Planning Module on Dec. 14 FT agenda; other news
- 12.16.15 Change.org Update – Appeal Filed Today
- 12.17.15 Change.org Update – Notice of Land Use Appeal Posted
- 12.24.15 Change.org Update – Looking Ahead to January
- 12.31.15 Change.org Update – Drew Clemson suing Colleen Unroe
2016 Change.org Updates
- 1.2.16 Change.org Update – Due Process and Voter Rights
- 1.3.16 Change.org Update – Cutting Through the Crap: One Possible Scenario
- 1.4.16 Change.org Update – Joe Cusumano on FT Appointments to Boards and Commissions
- 22.214.171.124 Change.org Update – Brief Report on Ferguson Township Organizational Meeting
- 1.10.16 Change.org Update – Kelli Hoover on Voters’ Will and Science in Policy-making
- 1.12.16 Change.org Update – Ferguson Township Accepting Applications for Vacant Supervisor Seat
- 1.14.16 Change.org Update – Nittany Valley Water Coalition Land Use Appeal Update
- 1.21.16 Change.org Update – Water Campaign Informational Meeting – Thursday January 28
- 126.96.36.199 Change.org Update – Seating Limited at Foxdale – Event only open to Foxhole residents and invited guests
- 1.24.16 Change.org Update – Jason Grottini and David Yoxtheimer Advocate Wellhead Protections in Ferguson Township
- 2.4.16 Change.org Update – Oral Argument on Toll Brothers Motion to Quash Land Use Appeal – March 7 at 2:30 p.m.
- 2.5.16 Change.org Update – EPA and DOJ Record of Toll Brothers’ Clean Water Act Violations
- 2.6.16 Change.org Update – Six Candidates Apply for Unroe’s Vacated Seat
- 2.8.16 Change.org Update – Welcome to New Communications Coordinator – Smita Bharti
- 3.3.16 Change.org – Heading to Bellefonte court this Friday Mar. 4, 10:30 a.m.
- 3.7.16 Change.org – Court proceedings last Friday
- 3.17.16 Change.org – Toll brothers motion to quash denied!
- 4.26.16 Change.org – Status of the Toll Brothers development battle
- 4.28.16 Change.org – Legal update
- 5.3.16 Change.org – Update on status of lawsuit against Toll Brothers and Ferguson Township
- 5.4.16 Change.org – Court date set for oral arguments in the lawsuit against Toll Brothers and Ferguson Township
- 6.5.16 Change.org – Ferguson Township’s long-anticipated stormwater management ordinance is coming up for public comment
- 7.12.16 Change.org – Please attend Toll bros Court hearing tomorrow July 13, 2016 at 9:30 am Bellefonte Courthouse Annex
- 7.20.16 Change.org – Great turn out at the second court hearing!
- 188.8.131.52 Change.org – We won
- 184.108.40.206 Change.org – Great news! Judge Grine ruled in our favor!
- 7.26.16 Change.org – Funds for the ongoing Penn State/Toll brothers fight
- 7.30.16 Change.org – Peaceful Demonstration this morning in front of Old Main
- 7.31.16 Change.org – Alternate plan in place of Toll brothers project presented in front of PSU BOT
- 8.3.16 Change.org – Toll brothers appeal Judge Grine’s decision
- 9.14.16 Change.org – Update
- 9.22.16 Change.org – Thank you Sierra club for your $1,000 donation matching!
- 10.11.16 Change.org – Status of the lawsuit to stop the Toll Brothers development – Oct. 9, 2016
- 11.30.16 Change.org – Support for Clearwater Conservancy
2017 Change.org Updates
- 5.18.17 Change.org – Toll Brothers win their appeal
- 6.3.17 Change.org – Updates & Occupation
- 6.5.17 Change.org – Ferguson Township Supervisors Meeting Tonight – Protective Measures for the Future
- 6.10.17 Change.org – Occupation is 1 week old!
- 6.11.17 Change.org – Friends of Slab Cabin Hosting Social at the Site – 6 p.m. tonight
- 6.18.17 Change.org – Daily Updates from the Occupation – Plus, more occupiers needed
- 6.26.17 Change.org – Several Updates at Nittany Valley Water Coalition Website
- 7.2.17 Change.org – One Month Occupation Anniversary – Andy Tolins and Haystack Lightnin’ Concert Today
- 7.10.17 Change.org – Occupation Updates and Report on June 26 Ferguson Township Executive Session
- 7.19.17 Change.org – Potluck Saturday July 22, forthcoming meetings’ CDT Op-Ed and LTE links
- 7.20.17 Change.org – Penn State is escalating.
- 7.22.17 Change.org – Potluck location moved (due to rain); context and timeline of PSU actions
- 7.26.17 Change.org – Report – Water coalition meeting July 25 with Penn State executives
- 7.29.17 Change.org – Protest at Old Main – Noon on Monday
- 8.3.17 Change.org – Reporting on August 2 Meeting of Nittany Valley Water Coalition, Toll Brothers and Penn State
- 8.8.17 Change.org – Action Planned for Penn State Move-In; National Trend of Universities Swallowing Communities
- 8.16.17 Change.org – NVWC meets with Toll Brothers today
- 8.17.17 Change.org – Toll Brothers identifies alternative sites for student housing
- 9.4.17 Change.org – Campaign Update Event – Tues. Sept. 5 at 7:30 p.m.
- 9.8.17 Change.org – Day 1oo Potluck – Saturday, Sept. 9 at 6 p.m. at site
- 9.20.17 Change.org – Slab Cabin Run Initiative Has Reached Its Goal!
- 9.28.17 Change.org – Penn State Shame.
- 9.30.17 Change.org – Organized, informed resistance seems to confuse Penn State
- 10.4.17 Change.org – #PennStateShame
- 10.8.17 Change.org – 127 Days
- 10.10.17 Change.org – Nittany Valley Water Coalition Looking Ahead
- 11.15.17 Change.org – Toll Brothers executives put in an offer on the alternative site
- 11.20.17 Change.org – NVWC Questions put to David Gray, Penn State Vice President for Finance and Business
- 11.22.17 Change.org – Thanksgiving Message from NVWC to Penn State
- 12.7.17 Change.org – 36 days later: The Silence is Deafening
- 12.19.17 Change.org – Water coalition incorporating, preparing to file suit against Penn State in January
- 12.22.17 Change.org – Penn State and Toll Brothers closed the Whitehall Road sale today
- 1.4.18 Change.org – Nittany Valley Water Coalition – Organizing Update
- 1.9.18 Change.org – Jan. 5 meeting postponed to Jan. 12
- 2.7.18 Change.org – Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition – Reorganization Update
- 2.28.18 Change.org – Report on Nestle project; upcoming events
- 3.5.18 Change.org – No to Nestle – Public Forum Wednesday, March 14
- 3.8.18 Change.org – Trout Unlimited – Spring Creek Chapter – Public Statement on Nestle Proposal
- 220.127.116.11 Change.org – Door-knocking this weekend, three upcoming public forums
- 3.14.18 Change.org – Community Meeting Tonight
- 3.15.18 Change.org – Report on Last Night’s Community Meeting
- 3.19.18 Change.org – Updates on Toll Brothers fight and No-to-Nestle campaign
- 3.25.18 Change.org – Spring Township Meeting Wednesday; other updates
- 3.29.18 Change.org – Report from March 28, 2018 Spring Township Water Authority Board Meeting
Change.org updates were mostly written by Katherine Watt, except between Feb. 2016 and May 2017, when they were written by Smita Bharti.