Our very drinking water is a precious resource often taken for granted. It is especially precious for many of those in our community that rely on a private well to produce this water.
With the impending Duke Realty warehouse project, Valley Logistics Park (VLP) poised to be a possibility for our community, we now have to consider what the status of the 20 mile aquifer is. This local aquifer supplies the majority of water to both our private wells and our public water systems (Maxatawny Township, Kutztown Borough, East Penn Manufacturing, Lyons Borough, and Kutztown University).
We are waiting for a report to be done to determine for certain if the VLP project water source will be from the Saucony Creek Watershed area or not, i.e., will VLP and the adjacent Rutters facility use water from our same local aquifer or from a different source of water. This information is critical for both the Borough and the Township. We all need to know how much is and could be used from our water supply source so that we can make appropriate and responsible decisions for both the present use and the future use of our “precious” resource.
What you may not know is that the nearby New Enterprise Quarry is now permitted to pump 8,000 gallons per minute (Yes, per minute) out of the aquifer and dump it into the Saucony Creek. One of the many problems is that on top of this, the Duke Realty proposed VLP development is planning on needing 43,000 (or 56,000 gpd) gallons per day. Duke Realty also plans to supply already established commercial businesses in the area with water, along with any new businesses and new residential projects, which could increase the total water use up to 99,000 gpd.
The New Enterprise Quarry was given permission by DEP to increase its water pumping from 5,000 gallons per minute to 8,000 gallons per minute in 2017. Some Maxatawny citizens fought the higher amount of pumping by the quarry, claiming that it could adversely impact their private wells which are not as deep as the quarry’s mining pit depth (about 450 feet). When our area went through the recent drought, some of the residents’ wells went dry. Because of the drought, it was determined that the quarry’s higher dewatering rate was not responsible. Instead, the residents were told that their wells went dry because of the drought. Many of our fellow residents were left to pay to have deeper wells drilled as the only solution.
The on-site wells for these VLP warehouses are 750 feet deep. The on-site well for the new Rutters is also 750 feet deep. The point is that most of our exisiting private wells are not nearly that deep. If the amount of water pumped from our local aquifer continues to increase, the water that supplies our more traditionally shallow private wells could disappear as the groundwater table falls to a lower level.
Duke Realty’s plan is for other businesses and homes to be able to hook into this new system throughout Maxatawny as marked in the Duke Realty Sewer Plan. This will allow for more development and thus will increase demand upon our water supply.
Estes Trucking had proposed another development on the Old Kutztown Airport property. Whether or not Estes continues with their plan, or if another company approaches the township with a development plan for a large facility plan and requests sewer hook up from the Maxatawny Township Municipal Authority it is unimaginable what the water request for that project would be.
Additionally, there is news of a development proposal for another huge warehouse development of 1 million square feet along Hill Top Rd just north of Rt 222. As of Spring 2022, those plans are now at the Township building.
With the 1,600 employees coming into the area to supply the workforce needed for the Duke Realty VLP warehouses, there will be more housing needed which will put an even bigger demand on the aquifer to supply the growing population with water. A new Virginia Tech study offers fresh evidence that warehouses and parking lots add more impervious surfaces,. These impervious surfaces prevent rainwater from penetrating into the ground and cause pollutants to wash off and collect more easily as part of stormwater. Yes, Duke Realty’s warehouse complex will have retaining ponds to collect the stormwater runoff and treat it before it is released into the stream; but, the bigger problem of covering the land with impervious surfaces remains. Rainwater falling on these acres of land is no longer naturally being filtered down through the soil to replenish/recharge the aquifer. This loss of rainwater creates yet another strain on our water supply.
Currently available material suggests that the Duke well may either be on the outskirts of our local aquifer, or their proposed well would be located within the bounds of our aquifer. There is supposed to be a study done to make a final determination where their propsed well would actually sit. Even if their well is next to our aquifer, one aquifer can be drained by another due to naturally occuring cracks in the bedrock.
If Duke Realty builds this VLP complex, they will come! More developers will show up with their plans in hand for possibly more residential, commercial and warehouse development, putting an even greater demand on our water supply. We do not have the ordinances in place to properly regulate these developments or their quanity. And our Township’s "Comprehensive Plan" is woefully out of date, with no urgency to update it.
Now is the time to take a stand. There is much more at stake than whether or not wayward trucks and increased car traffic will make our roads more unsafe, as if that weren’t enough. Our Water!
We don't want to have a water crisis like Jackson, Mississippi, do we?
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