County water authority finds leaks in Artesian well application
● By Richard Gaw
The Chester County Water Resources Authority has raised several conflicting points in its review of Artesian Water Pennsylvania, Inc.'s application to expand its water system to include the Broad Run Well in Landenberg.
In a letter dated Jan. 23 and addressed to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection [DEP] and the Delaware River Basin Commission [DRBC], Janet Bowers, executive director of the Chester County Water Resources Authority [CWA], made reference to Artesian's application – currently under consideration with the Public Utilities Commission – which stated there is no evidence to support Artesian's claim that an additional 200 customers are expected to move into the area in the future and thus require water service that would come from the Broad Run well. Bowers' letter was sent to Bob Damiani of the DRBC and Ben Greeley of the DEP.
"Without such analysis, it is difficult under current zoning to estimate a future customer base," Bowers wrote. "Thus, no basis has yet been provided to support the need for expansion of the public water service territory in the requested area at this time."
Bowers further wrote that Artesian's application, which includes proposed expansion of its water supply system to include inter-connection from the Broad Run well, is not needed. Rather, she wrote that the existing inter-connection between Artesian and the nearby Chester Water Authority water line already provides an adequate and active water source.
"The [Artesian] application included no explanation or results of any comparative assessment that documents why the well is the most effective option for achieving the desires reliability for this portion of their system," Bowers wrote, suggesting that the CWA alternative be evaluated, in order to determine if there is a need to activate the Broad Run well.
Bowers also said that Artesian needs to come up with a more concrete explanation for why the company is requesting approval to withdraw and distribute water from the well at a rate of 288,000 gallons per day. Bowers made reference to the "significant technical questions" raised by legislators and citizen groups who question Artesian's claim that the activation of the well will have no impact on wells in the vicinity of an active Broad Run well.
Specifically, Bowers mentioned a report conducted by Environmental on the Broad Run well, which claims that the Artesian hydrogeologic report prepared in August that supports the belief that the 288,000 gallons of water the company said can be drawn from the well per day without impact to neighboring wells or wetlands was conducted at a time when high point of water levels taken of the Broad Run stream were at above normal levels.
"The proposed rate of withdrawal should be closely reviewed to ensure it is documented by a demonstrated need, and to ensure it will not cause any reduced productivity or decreased reliability to any existing nearby wells," Bowers wrote, nor cause any harm to the Broad Run stream.
Bowers' letter to the DEP and DRBC has been sent on the heels of an official protest the CWA recently filed, requesting that Artesian's application to activate the Broad Run well be denied.
The protest, submitted to the PUC on Dec. 22, 2014, concluded that Artesian Water Pennsylvania, Inc. "does not possess the necessary financial, technical or legal ability to provide the proposed services, [that} there is no public need for the services proposed, and that there has been no showing that the existing facilities of [the CWA] are inadequate to provide service to the areas identified in the application."
In its protest, CWA wrote that it is "the better regional operator" in providing water service to the 200 new customers in New Garden Township that Artesian mentioned in its application to the PUC, and that it already serves about 98 percent of the public water to customers in the township.
"Given the significant number of customers already served by the CWA, the addition of 200 customers onto its existing water system would be cost effective," the protest stated, citing five existing water distribution facilities it currently has within the township.
"Given CWA's presence and already existing significant service in this area, granting [the application to Artesian] could result in stranded investment, duplication of facilities, as well as frustrate system planning and the [PUC's] goal of regionalization."
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.