Debate on water withdrawal plan continues

The second of several public conditional use hearings about a company’s plan to withdrawal 250,000 gallons of water a day from the Lycoming Creek watershed was held Wednesday night at the Old Lycoming Township Volunteer Fire Co.

An engineer working on behalf of Centura Development, 1001 Commerce Park Drive, answered questions in front of about 100 residents about the company’s plan to use well water to support the natural gas industry.

The company was issued approval from the Susquehanna River Basin Commission on Dec. 14, 2012 to withdraw the water from a proposed site at 3231 Lycoming Creek Road. In its approval, the commission stated that “the requested withdrawal rate should not cause permanent loss of aquifer storage, render competing supplies unreliable, or cause adverse impacts to the water resources in the basin” subject to conditions that were set forth.

Bimbo Bakeries, 3375 Lycoming Creek Road, – formerly known as Stroehmann’s – and numerous citizens who reside in the area oppose Centura’s plan because they fear it will dry up their well water.

An initial hearing took place on April 30 when Old Lycoming Township’s zoning officer and solicitor laid out the company’s plan. Numerous citizens also spoke out against the proposal during that hearing.

Centura’s attorney Kurt E. Williams said that Centura has agreed to abide by several conditions placed on it in order to operate the water withdrawal facility, which could see about 58 water tankers a day coming in and out.

Some of those conditions include submitting a water metering plan that is able to be certified accurate within 5 percent of actual flow, providing access to the facility for inspections, complying with water conservation requirements and providing data to the SRBC.

“Next time we will be presenting testimony from our hydrologist regarding the water situation, although we strenuously object to any idea that the township has any jurisdiction over water quality and water quantity, because that has been established by the commission,” Willams said.

Additional hearings are scheduled for 7 p.m. May 22 and May 30 at the fire company’s social hall. Township Zoning Officer Forrest K. Lehman said that even more hearings may be needed to accommodate testimony and citizen input.

“Stroehmann’s remains concerned about the impacts of the proposed use on the Stroehmann’s baking process and on the neighborhood as well,” said J. Michael Wiley, an attorney representing the company. “We look forward to be able to question and clarify the proposed application and raise and present our concerns.”

The township’s planning commission is expected to make a recommendation to supervisors on the project after hearings are finished, according to Lehman.