Creation of regional authority discussed

MANSFIELD – About three dozen people came to the fire hall here to hear about water concerns in the Route 15 corridor and what can be done to alleviate the need, both current and future.

Frank Chlebnlikow, a planner with Rettew Associates, addressed the group of mostly municipal and development organization officials, along with a few interested residents.

Chlebnlikow was hired by the Mansfield Regional Valley Group, a local committee working tofind alternate water sources with contributions from its members, including Blossburg, Covington Township, Mansfield, Putnam Township, Richmond Township, Mansfield University and the Betterment Organization Of Mansfield

Chlebnlikow stressed that the report strictly was a “planning” report, not an engineering report with a goal in mind “to increase accessibility to public water for continuing economic prosperity.”

According to Chlebnlikow, there is an immediate need in Mansfield and Richmond Township for more water from another source besides the Lambs Creek Watershed, overseen by the Mansfield Municipal Authority.

That system is “tapped out” he said, but there is a plan underway to create an interconnect with the university’s water system that could inject up to 100,000 gallons per day into the borough’s system, thereby resolving the immediate need for some additional tap ins.

“But we are still looking at a 62,000 gallon per day deficit for Mansfield by 2030, with projected population growth for the region of about 20 to 23 percent,” he said.

Chlebnikow said he and the committee translated future population projections into future housing needs, looked at vacant land, and through some “planning assumptions we came up with a comfortable number for water needs for the region.”

“We are looking at eventual expansion of Mansfield’s system into Richmond and Covington, and expansion of Blossburg up through and including Putnam,” he said.

With that in mind, by 2030, Blossburg would need 327,000 gallons per day, Mansfield 266,500 per day, and the university 189,000 gallons per day, he added.

Ed Trask, who is drilling his own wells for his planned Canoe Camp Creek Village just south of the borough in Richmond Township, noted there is “another issue” that needs to be discussed – sewage capacity.

“My family is asking for 85,000 gallons of sewage, and has for more than a year with no response, because at the present time there is no agreement between the borough of Mansfield and Richmond Township to provide that kind of sewage,” he said.

Trask went on to announce he is meeting with state Department of Environmental Protection representatives next week to discuss building a separate sewage system for the planned housing development.

After all comments had been made, Tioga County Commissioner Mark Hamilton suggested the time might be right for the formation of a “regional municipal authority” to preside over the development of future water sources.

Bob Blair, of Tioga County Development Corporation, said such an entity would need to be under the auspices of a municipality or the county in order to function with authority from the state, and that it

would require public funding.

“By creating a regional authority you would have a lot stronger case for getting funding. I think the momentum is here,” he said.

The final plan from Rettrew will be approved by the committee in September and presented as an official document to member municipalities and the public for review.