By Richard L. Gaw
New Garden Township has sent a letter to Delaware-based Artesian Resources, informing the company that the well Artesian is looking to activate on Broad Run Road in Landenberg has no record of land subdivision approval, and is in violation of two township ordinance compliance issues.
The Jan. 24 letter, authored by township solicitor Vincent M. Pompo and sent to John M. Thaeder, Artesian senior vice president, is in response to a Dec. 5, 2013 letter sent by Artesian engineer Kathleen B. Thaeder to New Garden residents who own a well on their property within one half mile of Broad Run Well #1, stating that the company will be conducting a 72-hour aquifer test at the 225-foot-deep well, tentatively scheduled to be done during the first quarter of 2014.
In the letter, Ms. Thaeder wrote that during the testing, the projected rate of water use during that time would not exceed 200 gallons per minute. “Based on previous testing, it is expected that there should be little or no effect on your well as a result of the planned testing,” she wrote. Translated, Artesian would be looking to extract more than 200,000 gallons of water per day from the Broad Run Well.
In his letter to Artesian, Pompo wrote that township R-1 zoning regulations where the well is located permit only one principal use, as stated in township ordinance 200-18.A: “'A building may be erected, altered or used and a lot or premises may be used, by right, for any one of the following purposes and no other…’” wrote Pompo, who added that a facility used for the extraction of water for commercial use would add a new, additional purpose, and thus, the pumping facility is not permitted on the property.
In addition, Pompo wrote that the extraction of water for commercial use is not permitted within the R-1 District, and that such a use would only be permitted by conditional use within a commercial-industrial district.
Further, Pompo wrote, the township does not currently own a record of any subdivision approval of the acquisition of the well property – which Artesian purchased from local developer Charles Wilkinson – nor any record of land development or zoning approval for the proposed use.
The issue of Artesian activating a well in New Garden Township was first heard before the township’s board of supervisors on June 18, 2013, when Artesian representatives told supervisors that they plan to connect the well into its existing water distribution system in nearby Delaware, by way of a water main to be constructed along Broad Run Road and Newark Road. At the meeting, Artesian told the supervisors that their testing would be regulated by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Delaware River Basin and local ordinances, and agreed that it would be subject to New Garden Township Ordinance 143, which regulates the drilling and maintenance of wells, and provides for well water exportation permit and withdrawal fee.
Public discussion of this issue was conducted at the board of supervisors’ meetings on Dec. 16 and Jan. 27, when several township residents voice their objection to the testing, stating that the extraction of water from the Broad Run well may impact the availability of water for hundreds of township residents during a drought.
It was indicated at the meeting that the board opposes the use of the well for testing, and in making reference to the letter sent to Artesian, Pompo said, “There has been no application to the township (by Artesian), no one has asked, but we feel that given the nature of their activity, that it would be best to put them on notice of what our decision was.”
Artesian serves more than 81,200 metered customers and supplies over 7.5 billion gallons of water per year, through 1,150 miles of water mains. Based in Newark, Artesian is the eighth-largest investor-owned water supplier in the United States, and also holds subsidiaries in Pa. and Md.
In an interview with the Chester County Press, Artesian executive vice president Joseph DiNunzio said that during the testing, Artesian will abide by all valid and applicable laws and regulations of the township, Chester County and Pennsylvania, but that State law governs the withdrawal of water, and that no permit is required from a township to conduct tests of this kind.
According to DiNunzio, the water produced during the pump test will be discharged to the nearby Broad Run stream, as permitted by the DEP. The permit, he said, will require that the discharge water will flow through a hose through a plowed field in order to avoid distrurbance with th field, and then over plywood sheeting with a plastic cover. To better ensure proper water discharge, the site will include a series of hay bales with erosion-control fabric.
"After the testing is done, the results will be anayzed and we will make a determination to have that well placed into production," DiNunzio said. "If that's the case, then it will be connected to our system and will serve the Broad Run Community in Chester County immediately across the Delaware line, (a residential community) that we've been serving with water from Delaware for decades now."
The testing formation that Artesian plans to use will not affect 95 percent of the township, DiNunzio said. In a written statement, Artesian wrote that much of New Garden Township is in the Wissahickon Schist formation, an altogether different aquifer than the Broad Run Well, which is located in the Cockeysville Marble. In the statement, Artesian also said that the well is not needed for water service to new developments currently under construction along Limestone Road in Delaware.
Although DiNunzio said that no date for the testing has been determined yet, Artesian will share the results of the pump testing with the New Garden Township community.