Aug 28, 2009

Conclusion Of Water Thieves

-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.
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.


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


Anonymous said...

Friday morning.
Today we have an example of what makes America great. One local blog halos a county executive;
another, anything but.

Anonymous said...

What financial incentives are involved in this county/corporate partnership?

michael molovinsky said...

anon 8:13, at the very least, cunningham gave his sermon on the mound* at COCA-COLA PARK.

* used in regard to anon 8:12 halo observation

Anonymous said...

Might someone know population figures for the Macungies?
Would these voters make any political difference for Cunningham's race? The loss of water is a big issue.

Anonymous said...

Considering one's home is usually the greatest financial asset, why would anyone who risks the loss of water support Cunningham?

monkey momma said...

What I don't understand is how the townships figure into this water mess. Are the wells being drilled in Upper Mac or Lower Mac? What kind of authority do the townships have over LCA?

Upper Mac seems beholden to corporate interests, in light of all the taxes these organizations pay into the township. Lower Mac, on the other hand, seems to rely on individual property taxes to support their township's tax base.

By allowing the LCA to restrict water to residents and NOT corporations draining our water supply dry, our local gov't has made it quite clear where the average citizen stands. Clearly, corporations like Coke, Same Adams, etc. are more important to LCA and the townships than citizens or the environment.

monkey momma said...

Anon 8:43:

Upper Mac has 17390 citizens.

Lower Mac has 23000 citizens projected by 2010.

Anonymous said...

Lower Macungie Supervisors, planners and Zoners did everything they could legally to keep the two wells with 3.3 million gallons per day capacity out of LMT. It was only through an oversight by LCA that the LMT supervisors were able to keep the well monitoring system in place, that LCA is trying to wriggle out of. Deana Zosky is very knowledgable on these issues and has devoted a lot of time and effort to protecting Lower Macungie on many levels.
When LCA went to the meetings, they hid behind their lawyer and refused to answer questions like, "How deep are the wells?", "Where are they located?", "How many gallons per day will they pump?", "Who will be using this extra water?" etc.
LCA is what you get when you give unregulated authority to a public entity, and all they want to do is expand the dynasty because that is what bureaucracies do. They no longer serve the public, they simply want to expand, expand, expand. They have plans on the table now for a $150 million expansion into western Lehigh County, where the initial impetus is to serve Coke's sewer needs, because as Mr Arndt said in a public meeting, "We can't lose their business".

michael molovinsky said...

mr. hamill sent an email to an official at LCA, among others, with also a copy to myself. the official has replied starting with a phrase i have heard over and over from bureaucrats; that hamill's concerns contain much misinformation. how convenient for our officials to classify any dissent on policy as based on misinformation. the following statement i found most interesting;

"Finally, if the public is genuinely concerned about bottled water industry, please consider promoting the use of tap water instead. Damning LCA for supplying water to a manufacturer of a product everyone wants is a hollow argument. Until the tides turn and the public begins to turn away from buying these products, manufacturing will continue. That is not an LCA decision, but a societal issue that has not yet run its full course."

I'm sure that coke, nestle and niagara felt out LCA before locating here. government bodies and their authority's routinely discourage and encourage certain enterprises.

LVCI said...

Anonymous said... How many gallons per day will they pump?"

Application No. 3909507, Public Water Supply.
Applicant Lehigh County Authority
Upper Macungie Township
Lehigh County

Responsible Official Aurel M. Arndt
General Manager
Lehigh County Authority
1053 Spruce Street
P. O. Box 3348
Allentown, PA 18106
Type of Facility Community Water System
Consulting Engineer Charles E. Volk, P. E.
ARRO Consulting, Inc.
1150 Glenlivet Drive
Allentown, PA 18106
(484) 664-7310
Application Received Date June 1, 2009
Description of Action: Application for construction of a 2 mgd booster pump station, 24-inch transmission main and interconnection to allow for transfer of water from the City of Allentown's Schantz Spring Reservoir to the LCA distribution system.

WL-12R be limited to 30.240 mg/30 days of water, and that the total withdrawal from all wells in the system remain limited to 256.24 mg/30 days

This will come from the watershed that contributes the Cedar Creek/Little Lehigh River

Anonymous said...

It should be pointed out that Rob Hamill lives along the Little Lehigh. Hamill will get riled up about anything that threatens his own pocket. That's capitalism, I guess, but it's disingenuous to disguise it as conservation.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 6:02, your comment doesn't make any sense to me. i suppose if the stream totally dried up his property would be worth less, but then again there would then be no stream in lehigh parkway, no fish hatchery or much of a park system. i think you will have to find some other way to discredit him.

Anonymous said...


The real reason why this is such an issue is the fight over clean water. Several wells in the LCA system have high nitrate levels from farming activities- Jaindl fields. These contaminated wells are located in Upper Macungie near green Hills and near Kraft. LCa was aordeed to shut down these wells because they exceeded the safe drinking water standards. Their answer to this well shutdown as been to increase the flow from the wells along the Little Lehigh because the nitrate levels are not that high. Shantz Spring is the other answer and that is where Allentown steps in to sell them clean water. So has you see LCA is in a pickle- thus the rationing of water so the bottlers are not supplied with contaiminated water. The whole point of the matter is that in 1960's, the Little Lehigh went dry because of excess pumping from the Portland cement company and we do not want to return to those days again where the trout population simply died in the creek. Right now, the PA fish and Boat commission just inventory the brown trout population in the Little Lehigh and it is the highest it has been in over 50 years. Lets keep that way by encouraging Allentown and LCA to work together with the EAC of Allentown, Emmaus and Lower Macungie to protect the quality and quantity of the Little Lehigh Creek

michael molovinsky said...

dear permission to change topic, i have not published your comment, because that "worry" was not a concern of those opposed to the park plans. however, unfortunately, the administration summoned congregations to the last meeting on that pretext. it was a very divisive tactic on their part.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
It should be pointed out that Rob Hamill lives along the Little Lehigh. Hamill will get riled up about anything that threatens his own pocket. That's capitalism, I guess, but it's disingenuous to disguise it as conservation.

August 28, 2009 6:02 PM

We always thought care of one's property was a sign of responsibility and as such should be admired. If not so, why does the federal govt. spend millions offering first time home buyers
incentive to "fix up" properties.

michael molovinsky said...

hamill's a longtime advocate for the stream, attending many, many meetings. i will not host any more comments concerning his motives, pro or con. comments regarding the message, but not the messenger, are most welcome

michael molovinsky said...

the comment submitted concerning otto slozer, who i know nothing about, is off topic. if you care to re-submit it, using your name, i will print it.