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

Report from March 28, 2018 Spring Township Water Authority Board Meeting

From Kelli Hoover – Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition President

The Terms of Agreement that was passed around the room at the STWA meeting last night is NOT the Terms list the STWA voted on. It is an alternative vision written by a member of the NVEC as an ideal agreement that would include profit sharing with the public.

The Terms list APPROVED by the Spring Township Water Authority Board on February 28, 2018 as a non-binding agreement between STWA and Nestle is attached below.

As you can see, the approved Term Sheet gives the power to Nestle to breach the agreement with limited ability of STWA to terminate the agreement if that occurs.

It also  has no termination date, and it states that Nestle can take water up to the permit for Well-2 (PW-2, the Cerro well), which is permitted at 499,000 gallons/day, which is also the maximum allowed pumping rate for all wells combined (well 1 and well 2), according to the SRBC and DEP permits.

STWA Board Chairman Doug Weikel indicated last night that the STWA board is interested in the proposed Nestle contract because STWA needs the money to maintain the water system and fix leaks that have plagued them for many years.

We know from review of STWA minutes, that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has been commenting on STWA water loss rates from leaks since at least 2006.

STWA customers should ask Weikel and the other STWA board members:

1) How much would STWA need to raise rates to keep the water supply as a public resource for the residents and not sell water to Nestle? Would the rate be $5/1000 gallons? What would it take to fix leaks and maintain a healthy water supply without Nestle?

2) Will you hold a public hearing where you lay out transparently and clearly exactly what STWA is proposing as the agreement with Nestle?

Doug Weikel complained last night about a lot of misinformation and misrepresentation of the facts by opponents.

If STWA doesn’t tell the public what the facts are, there will be misinformation.

So post the well testing data for PW-2 online and make it free to the public and tell us the plan in detail.

They still have not done this and then wonder why people are skeptical of their motives and their plans.

Thanks to those who came last night. There were about 100 people there!

Similar info, by Katherine Watt, NVEC Vice-President

Standing room in the room, spilling out into the hallway.

I couldn’t see anything or hear very well, but I think the main info learned is that the water authority can’t afford to fix the leaks in their distribution system causing them to lose up to 30% of their water using ratepayer funds at current rates ($4.75 per thousand-gallons), so that’s why they immediately ran with Nestle’s proposal when Nestle came to them just after Halloween 2017, as the water authority was finalizing a decade-long process of drilling and permitting a second public well to be used as a backup source of supply (PW-2) for their existing customer base.

I don’t think the water authority board has ever notified their customers about the estimated total cost to repair the leaks in the system, the estimated rate per thousand-gallons that would enable those repairs to be done by the current ratepayers, or given the customers the opportunity to shoulder those higher rates in order to protect their water from privatization by Nestle or other bottling corporations.

The information about the rationale for the proposed Nestle contract suggests that a sensible resolution shouldn’t be too hard to reach.

We need to establish three things:

  1. How much money does STWA need to make those repairs?
  2. Are STWA ratepayers willing to pay to fix their own system and thereby keep Nestle out?
  3. How much are other people in Centre County willing to kick in to help Spring Township – and other similarly cash-strapped water systems – and thereby help keep Nestle and other bottling companies out?

It’s also interesting from a large trend perspective.

Municipal authorities were created in Pennsylvania to overcome taxpayer resistance to higher taxes for public services, back in the 1960s and 70s, by making a new revenue-generating scheme whereby “taxpayers” become “ratepayers,” paying money for public services operating like private businesses.

A shell game, to be sure.

Cue Phase 3.

Decades of underinvestment in public infrastructure…flat or declining household incomes, off-shoring and automation of jobs…flat or declining income and property tax revenue for municipalities and flat or declining revenue for rate-funded municipal authorities…inflation in costs for materials to repair the broken pipes, roads, buildings, bridges…

In come the private corporations to “help,” by offering to extract and export crucial public water resources, buying it at $4.75 per thousand-gallons, and selling it on the private market at $7,500 per thousand-gallons.

No-to-Nestle Campaign Updates – March 25, 2018

Our Community Our Water: Citizens speak out against Nestle Water’s proposed agreement with Spring Township Water Authority

  • What: Spring Township Water Authority meeting
  • When: March 28, 2018 at 7 pm
  • Where: 1309 Blanchard St., Bellefonte

Contacts:

Concerned Citizens of Pleasant Gap:

Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition


LITIGATION PLANNING

A legal team got together and has consulted with an attorney to represent us as we go forward with legal options for stopping the Nestle water extraction and bottling plant plans. The same attorney helped Kunkletown, PA in Eldred Township find a legal solution to get Nestle out of their community before they could get started, which took two years of litigation.

OUTREACH

Door knocking continues today and tomorrow 1-5 pm in Spring Township to obtain petition signatures to say NO to Nestle, recruit volunteers and answer questions community members might have. If you are interested in helping, please contact Courtney Morris at creolemaroon83@gmail.com or Lynne Heritage at llheritage@comcast.net.

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES

Volunteers needed! Can you volunteer to lead or serve on a team to help with the following efforts?

  1. Volunteer recruitment: Coordinate phone calls to people who signed up to volunteer at one of our events and ask them how they’d like to help.
  2. Data entry: Enter names and contact information for people in Spring Township that have signed the No to Nestle petitions into a Google spreadsheet (like using Excel).
  3. Door Knocking: A Spring Township resident who can organize people to knock doors in their Spring Twp neighborhood asking for petition signatures and/or drop flyers.
  4. Public information flyers: As time passes and new events occur, we need someone who can design new handouts to provide information to residents.

YARD SIGNS

Lynne is ordering No to Nestle yard signs and will get them out to people who have signed up for a yard sign or want one in the future. They will cost about $5 per sign.

SOURCE DOCUMENTS

Source documents from Right to Know requests and other public sources can be found at the following link:

https://stopnestlewaterextraction.wordpress.com

documents are roughly organized by source as listed in the right sidebar.

TALK TO YOUR ELECTED AND APPOINTED REPRESENTATIVES

We strongly encourage residents of Spring Township to talk with your supervisors and/or Water Authority Board members in person to tell them how you feel about the plan to allow Nestle to take over as Primary user as one of your wells.

This will affect you whether you are a water customer or a private well owner, especially if you live in Spring Township, Bellefonte Borough or Potter Township.

Also, the Centre County Commissioners have been involved in facilitating Nestle’s plans and they need to hear from you as well if you are not happy about this. You can contact any of the people on this list below and get a meeting. It works best to have two or three people go together. Contact info below.

You could also write them a letter.

SPRING TOWNSHIP OFFICIALS

Email for all supervisors: supervisors@springtownship.org

Spring Township Supervisors

  • Terry Perryman, Chair
  • David Capperella, Vice chair
  • Frank Royer

Spring Township Water Authority:

  • Doug Weikel, Chair – 1109 E. Springfield Drive, Bellefonte
  • Larry (Teko) Palchak – 602 Pine Ridge Circle, Bellefonte
  • Gary Catalano – 173 Arbor Bluff Drive, Bellefonte
  • Jason Martin – 141 Arbor Bluff Drive, Bellefonte
  • Nathan Barnhart – 105 Limestone Drive, Bellefonte

Barnhart is the one who abstained from voting on the non-binding Terms agreement at the February 28, 2018 STWA meeting, saying he did not have enough information since he is new to the board.

Benner Township Supervisors: BENNERTWP@aol.com

  • Randy Moyer, Chair
  • David Wise, Vice-Chair
  • Mark Capriani

Centre County Commissioners:

  • Mike Pipe, Chair
 – mike@centrecountypa.gov
  • Mark Higgins – mark@centrecountypa.gov
  • Vice-Chair Steve Dershem – sdershem@centrecountypa.gov

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Write a letter to the Editor of the Centre Daily Times, the Gazette, or other news source. Terry Melton is leading that effort and can help you with how to submit a letter and even write a draft for you to edit and submit. Contact her at terrymelton321@gmail.com

PUBLIC COMMENTS AT PUBLIC MEETINGS

Attend and let your voice be heard during public comment period at meetings, or just come to support those who are there to speak against Nestle.

PLEASE attend the March 28 meeting of the Water Authority. The Spring Township Water Authority may vote on the Agreement with Nestle at that meeting and we need to be there to speak against it or at least support those who do.

The event on April 18 is also important. Lara Fowler is an expert in water law and will be mediating discussion among key stakeholders about the Nestle proposed water extraction plan.

UPCOMING MEETINGS

All addresses in Bellefonte or Pleasant Gap

  • Wednesday, March 28, 7 pm, Spring Township Water Authority –Spring Township Building, 1309 Blanchard Street
  • Monday, April 2, 7 pm, Spring Township Board of Supervisors – Spring Township Building, 1309 Blanchard Street
  • Wednesday, April 18, 6:30 – 8:45, Water Resource Public Forum – Forum of stakeholders organized by
Spring Creek Watershed Commission. Moderated by Lara Fowler, PSU Law School. Location: Central PA Institute of Science and Technology 540 N. Harrison Road, Pleasant Gap
  • Wednesday, April 25, 7 pm, Spring Township Water Authority –Spring Township Building, 1309 Blanchard Street
  • Monday, May 7, 7 pm, Spring Township Board of Supervisors –Spring Township Building, 1309 Blanchard Street

Above information as 2-page PDF: 3.25.18 No to Nestle Update

Updates

No to Nestle Campaign

Item 1 – Audio Recording of March 14 Public Forum

An audio recording of the March 14, 2018 “No-to-Nestle” community meeting is now available:

Approximately 300 people attended and campaign organizing is ongoing.

Item 2 – GoFundMe campaign for No Nestle litigation costs.

For readers interested in financially supporting likely litigation to stop the Nestle project, the campaign has set up a GoFundMe site.

Item 3 – Tabling at Banff Mountain Film Festival

On April 13 and 14, Sierra Club-Moshannon Group and Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition will be tabling at the Banff Mountain Film Festival at the State Theatre, starting at 6 p.m. each day. Stop by for information about the No-to-Nestle campaign.

Slab Cabin Run Water & Farmland Protection Campaign

In December, Penn State finalized sale, for $13.5 million, of about 45 acres along Whitehall Road, to Toll Brothers, for development of luxury student apartments. Through subdivision plan notes, the Toll Brothers project is related to plans for development of up to 100 acres of land jointly owned by the Centre Region Council of Governments and Ferguson Township, slated for development by the Centre Region Parks & Recreation Authority as the Whitehall Road Regional Park (WRRP).

Construction of the student housing development is expected to begin this spring, and discussions of WRRP planning are underway.

Item 1: March 19 Ferguson Township discussion of Whitehall Road Regional Park plans.

On March 19, the Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors will be discussing “planned infrastructure” for the Whitehall Road Regional Park, as it relates to several regional topics.

Meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Ferguson Township Municipal Building, 3147 Research Drive. “Whitehall Road Regional Park Planned Infrastructure” is Item 8 on the supervisors’ agenda.

Please attend this meeting to advocate for conservation of a portion of the 100 acre parcel for the proposed regional park and amenities including reforestation, bird, butterfly and pollinator habitat and nature trails.

For brief reorientation, the regional park has been a controversial local issue for several reasons including its location in a sensitive groundwater recharge area; its financial connection to the adjacent private student housing development; its public funding from the five COG municipalities that participate in the regional parks program; and its joint governance through the Centre Region Parks & Recreation Authority (“Parks Authority”), an independent municipal authority comprised of appointed members, and the Centre Region Council of Governments Parks Capital Committee, a committee comprised of elected officials from each participating municipality, who review projects on behalf of the full COG General Forum.

More detail is available in the Bailiwick News March 18 edition, forthcoming.

Item 2: March 24 Art Workshop in Lemont & April 6 Exhibit Opening at State Theatre

The Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania in partnership with the Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition is offering a free hands-on Community Art Workshop to memorialize the farmland and watershed off Whitehall Road.

The event will be held on Saturday, March 24, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Art Alliance, 818 Pike Street in Lemont.

Join artist and educator Nicole Packard to create art commemorating the beautiful landscape along Slab Cabin Run with Tussey Ridge in the background, before it’s destroyed by development. All supplies will be provided, no art experience is necessary and the event is free and open to adults and children.

Attendees will be encouraged to offer their art for inclusion alongside the works of local area artists at the State Theatre exhibit running from April 2-30 with a special event there April 6 from 5-7 p.m.

Register online.

Then, on Friday, April 6, The Art Alliance and Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition will host an art exhibit opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. at the State Theatre. Works of art capturing the Slab Cabin Run landscape will be on display, with opportunities to meet the artists and participate in a discussion about regional land use issues. The exhibit will be on display from April 2 through April 30.

Facebook event page.

Item 3 – April 2 – Public Hearing on Financial Liability for Public Water Well Pollution

A few months ago, Ferguson Township citizen Pam Steckler drafted and circulated a petition to Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors, under a Home Rule Charter provision that requires the supervisors to hold a public hearing within 90 days of submission, on any matter for which the proper number of signatures is obtained.

The petition reads:

“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.”

Steckler obtained the required number of signatures on the petition, and the required public hearing is now scheduled for Monday, April 2, 7 p.m. at the Ferguson Township Municipal Building, 3147 Research Drive.

ITEM 4 – Easement requested for sewer main across deed-restricted water conservation land

At the Jan. 18, 2018 State College Borough Water Authority (“SCBWA”) board meeting, the board discussed an easement request for a 4,000-foot forced sewer main across a 60-acre deed-restricted well-field conservation parcel, to convey raw sewage from more than 1,000 Penn State students in the Toll Brothers development, along with sewage from users of the Whitehall Road Regional Park, from a pump station at the bottom of the hill upgradient to Whitehall Road.

The board voted to table the request.

More detail is available in the Bailiwick News March 18, 2018 edition, forthcoming.

Report on Last Night’s Community Meeting

From Kelli Hoover, President of Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition

Great event last night with the community coming out to say NO to Nestle.

We should be VERY concerned about Nestle’s statement Monday night that Spring Township Water Authority would continue to own the well Nestle will take over.

That’s irrelevant.

The fact is that Nestle would not come here to build a $50 million bottling plant without a long-term guarantee of the use of that water. STWA is planning to convey a water-right to Nestle that would take an expensive, protracted legal battle to reverse should Spring Creek water quantity or quality begin to be affected, or private wells begin to see a drop in water levels.

It’s not as simple as STWA just saying to Nestle, we want you to shut off your spigot. Once Nestle is in, there is no getting them out or stopping them from increasing how much water they take.

Show me a community that has been able to do that without a huge legal battle.

Thanks to Sierra Club for hosting the event and Elaine at Webster’s for the donation of refreshments.

Door-knocking this weekend, and three upcoming public forums

From Sierra Club – Moshannon Group

For those interested in helping to block Nestle from pumping water in the Spring Creek Watershed, there will be a door-to-door flyer drop in Spring Township.

The plan is to go out this weekend from 1 – 5 pm on Saturday, March 10 and Sunday, March 11.

We’re meeting at the home of Courtney Morris, 268 S. Main St. in Pleasant Gap near the Pleasant Gap Elementary School. Park around the corner on Whiterock Road.

For more info, contact Lynne Heritage – llheritage@comcast.net.


From ClearWater Conservancy

 

Join the conversation about the management of our water resources: March 12, March 14, and April 18

On February 28, the Spring Township Water Authority voted to adopt a “Water Supply Agreement Term Sheet” between Nestle Waters North America and STWA. This Term Sheet is not a legally binding, finalized agreement. According to the document which can be found here, the ‘Term Sheet constitutes only an outline of significant terms and a statement of mutual intentions.’

As illustrated by Jim McClure in 1981 (image above), ClearWater Conservancy is founded on the belief that ‘ we’re all in the same bathtub.’ The water each one of us relies on for household, industrial, and recreational use knows no municipal boundaries. We all share the important job of responsibly managing our region’s water supply.

Below are upcoming opportunities to stay informed, ask questions, and provide feedback regarding Nestle’s proposed plan to purchase water from Spring Township Water Authority and build a bottled water manufacturing facility in the region.

Please note the varying hosts and Q&A formats for each event.


Monday, March 12 – 6:30-8:30 pm – Nestle public information session

Hosted by Nestle, Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology (CPI), 540 N. Harrison Road, Pleasant Gap

Nestle Waters regional Natural Resource Manager Eric Andreus will give a short presentation about the proposed factory located in Spring or Benner townships. A panel of experts will also be available to answer questions. Community members can submit questions by filling out a card beforethe session, by emailing NWNA.Pennsylvania@outlook.com or calling 1-800-450-7599.


Wednesday, March 14 – 6:30-9:00 pm – NO to Nestle Forum

Sponsored by the Sierra Club Moshannon Group and Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition, Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology (CPI), 540 N. Harrison Road, Pleasant Gap

Event information provided by hosts: Nestle wants to extract a over 360,000 gallons of groundwater per day from Spring Creek Watershed and build a plastic water bottling plant in either Spring or Benner Township. This is 32X what the largest commercial customer uses currently. Concerned citizens have organized a public forum about the issues. Please bring your questions, concerns and your reusable water bottle! Facebook event here


Wedneday, April 18 – Time to be determined – Water Use Forum

Hosted by Spring Creek Watershed Commission, Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology (CPI), 540 N. Harrison Road, Pleasant Gap

A water use forum will be hosted by Lara Fowler from Penn State Law. The forum is at the invitation of the Spring Creek Watershed Commission. Lara teaches an environmental mediation course at Penn State and will be inviting in all interested stakeholders to discuss factual realities and concerns around water uses and seek to establish a record of common ground with her 18 students from her class. Denny Hameister who chaired the commission may be able to offer additional insight.


Upcoming Meetings – Spring Township Water Authority
Wednesdays, March 28 and April 25 @ 7 pm

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