Water withdrawal plans put on hold in Old Lycoming Township

Plans to withdraw 250,000 gallons a day from a well in Old Lycoming Township to supply the natural gas drilling industry have been put on hold – at least for now.

A conditional-use hearing scheduled by township supervisors Wednesday night at the Old Lycoming Township Volunteer Fire Co. was canceled because the project’s developer took the plans off the table. Supervisors booked the fire company’s social hall expecting a large turnout.

Centura Development Co., 1000 Commerce Park Drive in Loyalsock Township, was authorized by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission on Dec. 14, 2012, to withdraw well water from the Lycoming Creek watershed basin. The site was planned to be behind the former BiLo building at 3231 Lycoming Creek Road.

“The application has been withdrawn,” Bob Whitford, township manager, said about Centura’s paperwork to the township.

Those plans, however, still are valid with the SRBC until Dec. 13, 2016.

The Susquehanna River Basin Commission found that the planned water withdrawal would have “no adverse impacts” and would not negatively affect the “present or future use and development of the water resources of the basin.”

“My guess is that sometime down the line, we’ll see it come back to us,” Whitford said.

Since plans for the water withdrawal surfaced a little more than a year ago, township residents in the area who are served by wells voiced their concerns about the project, worried that the volume of water taken from the ground would disrupt adequate supplies.

Bimbo Bakeries, 3375 Lycoming Creek Road, also had concerns about the project because the company relies on well water in its manufacturing process, Whitford said.

“Everybody’s on a well up here. There’s no city water,” said Patricia Spangler, of 1856 Janet Ave., who collected more than 100 signatures against the project. “That was part of our worry.”

There are at least five other withdrawal sites north of the Old Lycoming Township site in Lewis Township that are extracting water from the Lycoming Creek watershed.

Whitford said Centura Development would “have to start from scratch” if it wanted to resubmit plans to the township for water withdrawal.

He said the township’s planning commission and supervisors had numerous concerns about the project.

“The township won’t be acting on it unless the applicant has a new (submission),” Whitford said.

Whitford said he did not know the exact reason why the application to the township was pulled back, but estimated that a lull in the natural gas drilling industry could have been a factor.

Calls to Centura Development were not returned Wednesday.