|Public Meetings: Chester, Bucks & Montgomery Counties
Berks, Lebanon and Lehigh Counties
The Northern Schuylkill/Maiden Creek Group session was facilitated by Ann Orth of the Berks County Conservancy. Group members included: Mort and Jean Weiser, Mena Hautau, Charles Boyer, Victor and Nancy Yarnell, Dale Schwoyer, Scott Wails, Irene Reed, Mark Dreibelbis, Mark Hoover, and Donald Haldeman. The major site specific issue was concern about a proposed power plant to be constructed on the Maiden Creek below Ontelaunee Dam. Top-ranking general issues were: poor land use planning and a lack of coordinated efforts between agencies and issues. Many of the participants were from Bern Township where a Citizens group has formed to deal with environmental and planning issues.
The Southern Schuylkill/Manatawny Group discussion was facilitated by Lorah Hopkins of the Schuylkill River Greenway Association. Participating were: John and Greta Scully, Jim Crater, Leslie Rebmann, Kim Fies, Charles Rasmuler and Jay Drasher. Their top priority was the encouragement of watershed management on a regional basis among all parties concerned. Two other top issues identified were stormwater management and the preservation of cultural and historic resources. Concerned citizens groups in this area oppose proposals for a large quarry and other industrial sites in the Hay Creek watershed.
The Tulpehocken Watershed Group discussion was facilitated by Phoebe Hopkins. Group members were: Clyde Myers, Chip Henderson, Lenore Dusold, Fritz Dusold, John Blatt, and Cyndie Fuhrer. The group identified inconsistent and ineffective land use planning and zoning as the most important issue in the region. They felt that funding concerns were paramount, with questions about the sources, distribution and the politics of funding for watershed improvement projects. Another major concern was the lack of consistent monitoring of water resources and coordinated use of monitoring data. This area is a strong farming region and has had federal funding awarded through the Tulpehocken Watershed Improvement Plan.
After the break-out session, the group had the opportunity to ask questions of the presenters, clarifying the procedure followed in the planning process, technical information about the GIS system and the ultimate value of the plan for local communities.
At the conclusion of the program, the attendees circulated around the room to view the lists of issues and priorities which were produced by the other groups.
LIST OF ISSUES IDENTIFIED AT BREAK-OUT SESSION
Northern Schuylkill Watershed
Lack of public education: need for public awareness
Water quantity: wasteful use, lawn watering, encroaching development
Non protected stream buffer areas; possibility for streambank easements
Lack of coordinated efforts between Agencies and Issues
Historic Preservation and Archeology: Involve Delaware Tribe
Water quality: waste dumps along creek, pollution, trash, industrial waste
Impact of proposed Ontelaunee generating plant to be constructed on the Maiden Creek near the Schuylkill River by a private electric company using power and cooling water from Lake Ontelaunee. Among the concerns is the rise in water temperature.
Flooding and storm water management
Pressures on farming: need incentives for farmers, technical assistance to solve ag problems.
Increased residential development
Lack of modern septic systems: need to enforce Clean Streams Law, Act 208
Recreational opportunities: rails to trails along Maiden Creek
Schuylkill Rriver South/East of Reading
Need for stronger regulations, better enforcement, public knowledge of regulations and whom to call if there is a problem
Poor stormwater management; poor design of bridges and culverts that impede stormwater flow; excessive paving of parking lots and road shoulders
Loss of prime farmland
Need for best management practices
Erosion of stream banks, sedimentation
Low flows in river and tributaries
Loss of wetland
Water quality and quantity issues
Need for native plants and local nurseries that provide them
Sprawl: need for balanced growth
Sewage treatment: reducing volume of water in systems
Sewer regulations which make it difficult to install alternative systems
Need for education and approval mechanism for alternative systems which require less water
Need for water preservation efforts by homeowners: concern with individuals wasting water during drought conditions: i.e., hosing driveways
Concerns about applications of sewage sludge on fields
Quarrying: local issues in Hay Creek watershed and Douglass Township
Opportunities for improvements: greenways, forested buffers, wetlands, preservation of natural areas, new stormwater techniques, regional approaches, better laws and enforcement supported by scientific knowledge
Need to inventory and preserve historic and archeological resources; special concern about protection of prehistoric (Indian) sites in this region
Negative impact of heavy industries such as quarries: specifically named were the Haines and Kibblehouse operation in the Hay Creek watershed and a quarry in Douglass Township
Tulpehocken Creek Watershed
Identification of sources of pollution needs to be more specific
Monitoring needs to be more consistent: Need for more USGS monitoring stations
Funding needed for broad range of watershed management issues. Sources of funds need to be better understood by those who can benefit from them.
Distribution of funds needs to be explained: should be clearly understood criteria
Apathy and lack of awareness about watershed: need more educational efforts
Impact of home septic systems on water quality: improper maintenance of systems
Sewage plant deficiencies in towns: specifically, Bernville has sewage volume, infiltration and illegal hook-ups that overburden plant capacity and discharges directly into head of Blue Marsh Lake. Adequate funding is a political issue.
State funding and legislative initiatives are often politically motivated, rather than based upon local needs
Historic dams are repositories for silt and pollutants: removal or repair are expensive options and therefore ignored. There are many low head dams along Tulpehocken which are remnants of historic gristmills, sawmills and forges. These dams are safety hazards and impede water flow.
Specific problem is Charming Forge Dam which is owned by PA Fish & Boat Commission. Adjacent landowners had agreed to purchase and remove, then arsenic was found in sediment, and agreement was nullified. What to do?
Need for study of dams and evaluation of their impacts on water quality. Need for federal funds to address problems at dams as well as nutrient management.
Farming economics: farmers need to make profits. Problem is widespread and solutions are difficult. Need awareness, education about values of farming to communities, estate planning for farmers, possible tax credits, more clout politically.
More research needed on stream buffers: which are most effective, how can they be encouraged, both for farmers and homeowners.
Historic resources need to be appreciated and preserved
Union Canal should be preserved, interpreted: Could become an extension of County Park system as a trail or historic interpretive site.
Land use planning and zoning are inconsistent and need upgrading on a regional or watershed basis.
Siltation and water quality are problems at Blue Marsh Lake, the major recreational attraction in the Tulpehocken watershed.
Water level fluctuation in the lake have negative effect on bank stabilization and fish habitat. Not all recreational uses are compatible with one another.
Population growth and sprawl are problems in this region as in other areas of the county.
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