DEP’s decision to permit Eastern Industries to expand Kutztown Quarry
Dear Editor, I am writing this letter to you in a continued effort to keep our local residents informed regarding the potential expansion at the Kutztown Quarry. The following information is based on my understanding and opinion of the situation at this time.
Please be advised that several staff members from the DEP District Mining Office (Pottsville) held a meeting with representatives of the Borough of Kutztown and Maxatawny Township on June 8, 2017. The municipal representatives were informed that DEP will be issuing a revised permit for mining operations at the Kutztown Quarry. This decision will allow Eastern Industries (New Enterprise Stone & Lime) to increase its permitted pumping discharge of water from the current 5,000 gallons per minute (7,200,000 gallons per day) compared to the revised permitted amount of 8,000 gallons per minute (11,520,000 gallons per day). The revised permit will also allow Eastern Industries to dig another 50 feet in depth at the Kutztown Quarry, with the potential for the mining company to request permission for an additional 50 feet in the future.
I admit that I was very disappointed in this decision by the DEP. However, I was gratified that the efforts and concerns of the local residents were, for the most part, taken seriously by the DEP in the review process. For example, the mining company’s initial request for a revised permit allowing for an increase to 12,000 gallons per minute of water discharge
(17,280,000 gallons per day) was not granted. Further, upon reviewing the DEP handouts from the meeting, i.e., Surface Mining Permit (rev. 5-10-17), Part B , Special Conditions or Requirements, and a Part B Addendum, Self-monitoring Data Requirements, I found several items that require additional data collection, additional consolidation of data, and additional review steps in order to better monitor the impact of mining on our local water supply. I think that these items of additional data and review could provide an improved layer of protection for both the public and private water supply of our area residents.
Specifically, I was pleased to find the following features in the DEP Part B materials:
1. that the mining company will continue to be required to monitor both water quality and water quantity on a monthly basis and to submit quarterly reports for review.
2. that an additional reference, the “NESL Kutztown Quarry, Continuous Monitoring Data Hydrograph”, will be prepared as an ongoing record of precipitation, quarry pumping volume, water levels at the monitoring wells surrounding the quarry, and water levels at the Borough wells.
3. that the “NESL Kutztown Quarry, Continuous Monitoring Data Hydrograph” will be used to assess any negative impact of the quarry’s pumping/dewatering on the Borough’s public water supply.
4. that the mining company will have to apply to DEP for a new authorization to mine for each additional increment of 50 feet in depth at mean sea level. And, that prior to the new authorization being granted, DEP will reassess the groundwater status based on comprehensive data.
5. that all requests by the mining company to dig another 50 feet in depth will be considered by DEP to be a “major permit revision” and will require public notice in a local newspaper.
There was also a discussion of how the local residents with private wells could contact the DEP Mining Office to report problems with their water supply and/ or to ask for assistance. Residents are encouraged to contact the DEP as soon as they notice a problem rather than waiting. DEP will make a “fact sheet” available to our area residents. In the meantime, residents can call the DEP Mining Office at 1-570621-3118.
Further, it was suggested that residents with private wells gather information regarding the status of their water supply prior to further drilling at the quarry. Information as to the following items may be an important reference in the future: when was the well drilled, what was the name of the well driller, what is the depth of the well, what is the yield of the well, type of casement used, etc.
It was also suggested that the Borough of Kutztown notify DEP if it notices any changes in pattern with its water supply. For example, if the Borough has to request that the mining company cease pumping water more often than usual or out of the usual seasonal pattern or if something happens with its water supply that wasn’t predicted.
I am hopeful that with continued communication between local residents and the DEP regarding our local water supply, we will be able to offer more complete information to each other. I believe that protecting the integrity of our local aquifer is a shared responsibility. Thank you for your assistance in this effort to do our part as local residents. — Lisa Ladd-Kidder Resident of Kutztown
With gratitude to the following people/groups, who were instrumental in responding to our call for increased information, discussion, and review regarding a significant increase in the amount of permitted dewatering at the Kutztown Quarry: the Kutztown Borough Council, State Senator Judy Schwank, the Kutztown Water Supply Specialist from SSM, the members of the Kutztown Environmental Advisory Commission, Ms. Karen Feridun of Berks Gas Truth, members of the Kutztown Water/ Wastewater Committee, local residents who supported the request for a DEP Public Hearing, local residents who attended and gave testimony at the DEP Public Hearing, Kutztown University Science professors who provided testimony at the DEP Public Hearing, local residents who provided written testimony, members of the Kutztown Planning Commission, and the Editor of the Kutztown Patriot.
Finally, for future reference, here are the permit numbers on file with the DEP:
New Enterprise Stone & Lime/Kutztown Quarry
Surface Mining permit #7774SM3A1C9, A1C10 & A1C11