Aug 28, 2009
Conclusion Of Water Thieves
GUEST POST BY ROB HAMILL
-Percy Dougherty is the chairman of the Lehigh County Commisioners. He has a PHD in geology and hydrology, and knows the Little Lehigh Aquifer probably better than anyone. From conversations, he is appalled by the well drilling on the banks of the Little Lehigh, calling the location, the worst possible from a stream health point of view. He calls the stream monitors “unnecessary as the location of the new wells are designed to specifically drain the creek, so there wouldn’t be any creek to monitor”. LCA finds it cheaper to drill two huge wells next to the creek, than to drill less productive wells that won’t drain the creek. He is a big proponent of using as much of the plentiful Allentown water as possible and as little Lower Macungie well water as possible. My favorite quote of his is, “There is not a water shortage, only a distribution problem”. At this time, he doesn’t think he has enough votes on the board to rescind the LCA charter and roll the responsibilities int o a Lehigh County controlled public entity. This would allow the county to plan for smarter growth, and actually allow our planning and zoning boards to have a say in how each township is actually planned and developed as opposed to having developers write the rules on the hunched backs of their attorneys while waving lawsuit pink slips in the face of barely paid public servants. Lehigh County could also use the $26 million in unencumbered cash that LCA is holding in its coffers for projects that might actually benefit our community.
-Delaware River Basin Commission(DRBC) is the only overseer of LCA. Their hydrologist for this area confirmed to me that in the Little Lehigh Aquifer, “groundwater and surface water are closely related, there is not a big separation of the two due to the permeable nature of this Karst aquifer”. This statement confirms that all this bottled water is directly draining our creek. Since the DRBC is located in Trenton, the patronage job board could seemingly care less where the water comes from, even if the wells are directly under and draining the stream. They seemed to ignore legal precedence that the wells should do no environmental harm. During the Dec 10th well hearing and approval, they only cared about the quantity produced, probably because their main preoccupation is with the location of the salt water line on the lower Delaware River. Anyway, with the head l egal counsel for the DRBC recusing himself from any LCA business at the hearing due to a conflict of interest; the doorway for LCA to be a friend to the bottlers and an enemy of the residents became easier.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
There are ways of putting pressure on LCA to serve the citizens over the special interests. The most direct would be to put a referendum up for vote in Lehigh County to end the LCA entity and roll the responsibilities to the County, who would have some political responsibility. This would involve a signature campaign to get it on the ballot which would be an effort, but doable.
Contacts could be made to the Lehigh County Commissioners to take control of LCA. Percy Dougherty is the Chair, while Andy Roman could put this on committee discussion. The County has a multi-million dollar shortfall this year, so the $26 million in LCA coffers is a great incentive.
Don Cunningham could appoint some LCA board members that are not there to just get along but to guard against the type of leadership that got us into this mess in the first place. He should take some heat here, as he was directly involved in bringing in the bottlers with no way of supplying the water needed. Why he didn’t lean on LCA to buy Allentown water in the first place is beyond me.
The Delaware River Basin Commission board members should hear from citizens concerned about the water abuse taking place in Lehigh County. Congress oversees the DRBC, so contact could be made with Charlie Dent to find out how to put real teeth in actual laws that are not enforced by the DRBC.
Governor Rendell recently attended a Renew Lehigh Valley meeting with one of our Lower Macungie supervisors, Deana Zosky and expressed interest in the plight of our water issues. He could direct the Dept of Environmental Protection at the state level to actually enforce current law without the need for expensive citizen lawsuits against the always big pocketed special interests.
Finally, The LCA holds bi-monthly meetings that are open to citizen input. Tell your concerns, an d stand your ground. Encourage Mr Arndt to retire and be replaced with someone with common sense and a respect for our residents. This is our community. The power of a right idea, well presented, with determined follow through, can change our little slice of the world. LCA needs to come to grasp with this decade and century.
GUEST POST BY ROB HAMILL
NOTE BY ADMINISTRATOR: Rob Hamill has been waging practically a one man defense of the Little Lehigh. It's not easy to go against Cunningham, the County and Coca-Cola; we owe him our gratitude, michael molovinsky
ADDENDUM: This article was reprinted courtesy of THE LEHIGH VALLEY COMMENTATOR, a subscription based alternative paper covering national and local issues. inquiries to P.O. Box 596, Emmaus, Pa. 18049