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Pike County Takes Lead

Pike County Takes Lead in Stopping Damaging DEP Regulations
Thursday, August 1, 2013
The Pike County Dispatch, p. 5

MILFORD- Many residents of Pike County may not have aware of it, but the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) had proposed a new policy regarding nitrates in the water supply that only applied to areas with High Quality (HQ) and Exceptional Value (EV) water.  Unlike any other county in PA, all of Pike County's  water is considered HQ and/or EV.  Therefore, the policy would have depleted property values and made construction much more difficult and expensive.  Fortunately, Pike County has excellent elected officials and fantastic representation in Harrisburg.

On June 28, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate presented Governor Tom Corbett with House Bill 1325, legislation that amends the Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act and overrides DEP's recently proposed anti-degradation policy, providing certainty to local governments and developers seeking sewage planning approval for projects near special protection watersheds.  If the new DEP policy regarding nitrates were implemented it would have had a devastating impact on the economy of Pike County.

In a county with high unemployment, DEP's policy would have brought future economic development to a complete halt.  Pike County is beginning to experience an increase in commercial development with the relocation of Kahr Arms and the expansion of LP Cylinder, helping to decrease the unemployment rate.  The County Commissioners see a wave of economic development coming to Pike County but if the recently passed legislation did not stop the damaging DEP policies, land values would have decreased and what was once developable commercial property would have become unusable.

The Pike County Commissioners were at the forefront of fighting the proposed DEP policy.  When first briefed on the impact, Commissioners Matt Osterberg and Rich Caridi immediately contacted Pike County's local legislators who assisted in organizing meetings with experts to discuss the impact that the policy would have on Pike County and other communities around the state.

Commissioner Osterberg stated that, "If this policy went into effect it would have had grave consequences on any future economic growth within Pike County.  We are currently ranked with the highest unemployment rate in the state, so to impose such draconian policy upon the people of Pike would have caused immense harm."  Osterberg went on to say that, "with new interest in Pike County by manufacturer's like Kahr Arms and LP Cylinders, we see a new beginning for Pike County its unemployment woes.  If we had not stopped this policy these projects could have become nonexistent." 

Commissioner Caridi concurred with the statement and added that, "we in Pike County have always been good stewards towards our environment; we have protected our natural resources, in particular our water, and such regulations as was being proposed would have penalized us for doing the right thing."  Caridi continued, "The people of Pike County have always respected our land, we have some of the cleanest waters in the state with no signs of nitrates, which is what made this policy so unbelievable, DEP was solving a problem that did not exist."

State Senator Lisa Baker sponsored the legislation in the Senate with Representative Mike Peifer and Rosemary Brown co-sponsoring similar legislation in the House.  Along with the support of the legislators, Governor Tom Corbett and his administration was supportive of stopping the economic damages that the DEP regulations would have caused.  With the hard work of elected officials at every level of government, including township supervisors and local experts, Pike County played a key role in protecting the local economy and the economies of other counties around the state.

Governor Corbett thanked members of the General Assembly for passing HB 1325, including Senator Baker, Representative Peifer, and Representative Brown for their hard work on the issue.  "The House and Senate have found a solution that allows the Department of Environmental Protection to rely upon the existing standards of Act 537 when considering sewage planning approval for developments that use on-lot sewage systems near high quality  and exceptional value waterways.  These watersheds are among our most important resources, and we believe that economic growth and a healthy environment are not mutually exclusive," Corbett said.

PC Commissioner's to DEP

May 8, 2013

Here is the most recent letter from the Pike County Commissioner's Office to DEP objecting to their proposed policy requiring additional BMP's for on-lot septic systems (non-point source) to effect denitrification for HQ and EV watersheds.  This letter addresses all the issues and may be of interest to Delaware Township residents who are following this issue.

--->click here to view the Commissioner's letter.

UDC Opposes PA DEP Policy Proposal

UDC Opposes PA DEP Policy Proposal
May 6, 2013

NARROWSBURG – The Upper Delaware Council, Inc. (UDC) unanimously approved a letter to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) on May 2 expressing its opposition to the Sewage Facilities Planning Module Review for On-lot Sewage Systems Proposed in High Quality and Exceptional Value Watersheds.

The action was taken to support the positions of the Wayne and Pike County Commissioners, as well as the UDC member townships of Damascus, Berlin, Lackawaxen, Shohola, and Westfall.

Approximately 95% of Wayne and Pike Counties are in a High Quality (HQ) or Exceptional Value (EV) watershed, with significant amounts comprised of tributaries to the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River.

The letter, signed by UDC Chairperson Jeffrey R. Dexter (Damascus Township representative), points out that water quality on the Upper Delaware River is uniformly good to excellent with positive trends continuing, according to the monitoring data routinely conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey, Delaware River Basin Commission, and the National Park Service.

While the PA DEP’s proposed policy aims to address Nitrate pollution, the UDC argues that the data proves this has not been an issue in Wayne and Pike Counties and that “current measures to protect the water quality in the river basin are successful.”

While the federal drinking level standard for nitrate-N is 10 mg/L, the new policy proposes what appears to be an arbitrary 45 mg/L standard.

“There is no documented science that correlates nitrate-N with a 45 mg/L standard,” the letter states.

Furthermore, there are numerous contradictions contained within the language of the policy itself stating that nitrate in Pennsylvania groundwater is trending downward overall and that septic systems are generally not capable of affecting surface waters to the degree where the 10 mg/L may be threatened. These facts suggest there is no justification to implement the policy.

The UDC writes, “Creating a policy that represents HQ and EV streams throughout Pennsylvania does not address differences in soil and geologic conditions which vary greatly throughout the Commonwealth and have significant impacts on nitrate levels in ground and surface waters.”

The letter continues, “There is a fine line between protection and over-regulation. High quality water is the basis for many of the healthy, viable, rural communities in Wayne and Pike Counties. The Upper Delaware Council is committed to protecting the water quality in this region, and scientific evidence verifies that current land use practices in Pennsylvania are successfully accomplishing that task… We see no benefit to pre-empting local zoning and land use regulations given the good to excellent quality of the waters in the Upper Delaware watershed.”

It is noted that the proposed policy would actually threaten the region’s economic vitality through its application of an arbitrary point system and its best management practices that could require cost-prohibitive new development models to implement.

“Furthermore, the proposed policy was derived from an Environmental Hearing Board Decision. Is the DEP not concerned that the required signing of a Declaration of Environmental Covenant that binds the land in perpetuity to the designated size and use could potentially be viewed as inverse condemnation by the court system?” the UDC asks.

The letter concludes by urging the PA DEP to address the valid concerns of the citizens in this affected region by discarding the draft policy.

A complete copy of the UDC’s May 2, 2013 letter is available on-line at www.upperdelawarecouncil.org or please call (845) 252-3022 to request a hard copy.

###

Laurie Ramie, Executive Director
Upper Delaware Council, Inc.
P.O. Box 192, 211 Bridge St.
Narrowsburg, NY 12764
(845) 252-3022; Fax 252-3359
www.upperdelawarecouncil.org

Responsible Citizens for Clean Water

Responsible Citizens for Clean Water
Get Informed about Pennsylvania D.E.P's proposed policy for On-Lot sewage systems in HQ & EV Watersheds.
May 2, 2013

http://www.waynecountybuilders.com/Clean-Water/#comment

Mission & Purpose

The RCFCW is a group of citizens organized for the purpose of promoting responsible, practical, and scientific basis for developing land use regulation, policy and law. We are focused on informing the affected public, land and business owners about a current policy proposed by the Department of Environmental Protection related to planning on-lot sewage systems in special protection watersheds. Click here to view the special report.

What impact does this policy have on me?

Approval of this policy will lead to restrictions on your property and it will create unnecessary costs. For business and property owners it will render some pre-existing properties non-buildable. Also, due to mandatory stream and lake buffers, this will result in a loss of land use. It will impose excessive costs for the use of nitrate removal technologies

additional information:

  1. The proposed policy
  2. Where are special protection waters in PA?
  3. Analysis by professionals
  4. View the decisions
  5. Pennsylvania Guide to Drinking Water (2012)

Do Something About It

Please comment to the DEP during the 60 Day Public Comment Period ending May 1, 2013. Please click on the category below for specific information and comments that may interest you.

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