Dinniman expresses concern over OK of aquifer water sales

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State Sen. Andy Dinniman (D-19)

WEST CHESTER — The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) approved Artesian Water Company’s proposal to withdraw water from the Broad Run Aquifer for commercial sale, Wedneday. The approval included an expanded water monitoring program and other protections advocated by local residents concerned that the project will deplete their wells.

State Senator Andy Dinniman, who led the effort to oppose the commercial well, said that while he appreciated the DRBC’s willingness to address the concerns of local citizens and businesses related to monitoring stream flow and water levels, he remains concerned about the sheer size of the project and its potential impact on the region.

“Artesian started this process with a blank check to go in to take as much water as it wanted, over time we made some real progress in ensuring that the withdrawal is closely watched and phased in over a period of time,” Dinniman said. “However, I still do not believe that Artesian has demonstrated the need to take hundreds of thousands of gallons of water per day from the aquifer. And I am disappointed that the DRBC did not move to scale down the size of the withdrawal.”

Most recently, Dinniman had asked the DRBC to entrust the project’s monitoring to an outside, independently-verified organization to help ensure that its accuracy is not questioned.

Dinniman said that his office will continue to work with impacted residents, township officials and members of Save Our Water, a group of residents concerned about the impact of a high-volume, commercial well on homes and businesses in New Garden, London Grove, Franklin, London Britain Townships and the surrounding area to carefully watch the project and monitor its impact on local streams wells.

Marion Waggoner, a Director of Save Our Water, said, “Save Our Water is pleased with the protections for the local environment, the Broad Run stream, and private citizens’ wells, which is provided in the long term monitoring program required by the commission. We wish that our independent-of-Artesian monitoring would have been appointed and that a 24-hour hotline would have been incorporated to protect our supporters. Save Our Water will be monitoring and is committed in the long-term to a ‘trust but verify’ position opposite Artesian.”

Dinniman added that his office will be working side-by-side with Save Our Water to support them in monitoring the withdrawal. He also added that he appreciated the support of township supervisors in the areas affected, the Chester County Water Resources Authority, and Stroud Water Research Center to ensure that project is closely monitored.

Artesian Water, a Delaware-based company, received approval to eventually withdraw as much as 288,000 gallons of water per day, at a rate of 200 gallons per minute, and over 100 million gallons projected over the course of one year from the aquifer.

Since September, the DRBC, a regional body governed by five commissioners, each representing Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, New York and the federal government, delayed its decision on the withdrawal application on three separate occasions based on the concerns of Dinniman and dozens of local residents.

To move forward, Artesian must now receive franchise approval from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) to expand its service area.

The PUC is continuing to resolve preliminary objections and has yet to rule on the matter. However, commissioners have assured Dinniman that they plan to hold a public input hearing in the New Garden area before doing so.

This week, Dinniman vowed to continue to fight the issue at the PUC level, while expressing concern about the DRBC’s grasp of the seriousness of the situation from a Chester County perspective. 

 “I think the DRBC heard some of what we said, but I’m very concerned that it missed the big picture,” he said. “The sheer amount of water Artesian wants to take from the Broad Run puts the question of water rights and the commercial use of the Commonwealth’s natural resources front and center.

“Residents and environmental experts have clearly demonstrated what a widespread detrimental impact the withdrawal could potentially have on their wells and the local environment. Meanwhile, it appears that a significant majority of this water won’t even be serving Pennsylvania customers. If the past is any indication, I wouldn’t be surprised if Artesian continued to try to use its lawyers to push this application through the PUC. Fortunately, Chester County residents are informed, involved, and committed to exercising our rights and defending our natural resources.”

For more information, call Senator Dinniman’s office at 610-692-2112 or e-mail acirucci@pasenate.com.

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