Mansfield Regional Valley Group gets preliminary report on region’s water needs

MANSFIELD – The Mansfield Regional Valley Group received a preliminary draft report on water supply planning from Frank Chlebnikow, Senior Community Planning Specialist with Rettew Associates Inc., of Williamsport, during its meeting Thursday.

The report focused on current and future water needs in the target area from Mansfield to Blossburg along Business Route 15, where there has been “lots of development along the corridor, some gas related,” Chlebnikow said.

“Mansfield borough supplies potable water to region, but limitations on the system translate into curtailing the region’s ability to grow,” he added.

Development that has already or is in the process of going in – such as the new Dunkin’ Donuts and a gas industry manufacturing business – are relying on private wells.

At the request of the group, which has been meeting monthly for several months, Chlebinikow said he “came up with a water strategy to allow local officials to proceed with completed plans, (for housing, retail and manufacturing), but for which there has been no approved strategy that we could take to a funding agency to get a water line, or allow an interconnect between the borough and university.”

Ultimately it is the intent for all five municipalities which include Richmond, Putnam, Covington, Blossburg and Mansfield, to adopt this plan at some point in time, he added.

Chlebinikow outlined seven scenarios that could be pursued in the group’s search for water, including an interconnect with Mansfield University; identifying new water sources the municipal authority could drill wells on, since the existing Lamb’s Creek source can’t be used for additional connections; a Blossburg-Mansfield interconnect, as Blossburg has sufficient water and is willing to extend its line into Putnam Township; taking advantage of any water sources drilled or created for Marcellus Shale activity or any other non-traditional water source; developing a regional approach to water supply and protection; having engineers prepare cost estimates for extensions; and updating comprehensive plans to include the effect of the natural gas industry’s impact in the region.

According to Chlebinikow the project to extend the line five miles from Blossburg to Putnam Township will run into millions of dollars and a source or sources of funding still need to be identified.

One of the original members of the group, Ed Trask, of Mansfield, who wants to build a housing development called “Canoe Camp Village” south of the borough near Wal-mart, said the residents of the townships involved need to understand how they could benefit by having public water along the Route 15 corridor.

Trask said such an improvement would increase the tax base, provide jobs and bring more working people to the area, which would serve to prosper the local communities.

What was not discussed was how much it would cost for individuals who have their own wells to hook onto the new line, which would be required once it is in, according to David Flesch, another founding member of the group.

Chlebinikow asked the group to review the plan and send any revisions to it to him by next Friday, Aug. 2.

Chlebinikow said he would be willing to speak at the next Betterment Organization of Mansfield meeting which at 3:30 p.m.. on Aug. 14 in the borough meeting room, and a public meeting tentatively scheduled for Aug. 30 at the fire hall.