Dear Allentown: Lehigh County Authority is Coming for Your Water, LIVE, TONIGHT! What Will City Council Do?

Lehigh County, Pennsylvania

Lehigh County, Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Dougtone)

Yes. The suburbs want the water to continue to fund the unchecked and unbalanced development in western Lehigh County. LCA is already Allentown’s biggest water consumer, but pays fractions of a penny on every dollar Allentown rate payers pay for the same water…OUR water. Look, we’re happy to share, but it has to be fair. LCA and western Lehigh County already put a huge use on the Allentown sewage system as well. Why WOULDN’T LCA want our water? Bottom line: it’s in the best interests of THEIR CURRENT rate payers if LCA controls Allentown’s water. A sad history repeats itself: the suburbs grow at the literal expense of the City: first through government subsidies (moving the ETA, building roads) and now through moves like this. Let those who have eyes see.

If you don’t believe me, look at this prediction from 2010 form the Morning Call archives:

If you can’t read it because of the paywall, here’s the text.  Given the timing, I think this ought to qualify as fair use.  I’ll take it down after tonight’s vote:

Lehigh County Authority runs unchecked

August 18, 2010

Lehigh County Authority has ambitious plans to expand its territory to western Lehigh County in a $200 million dollar project, the largest in its history. Some of that money will also go toward mitigating the sewage overflow from the manholes along the Little Lehigh Creek, which has gone on since 1984 and has been virtually ignored.

During this time, Lower Macungie Township grew into something resembling a New Jersey suburb, pushed by an authority obsession to expand without thought or reason. Its officially stated strategy is to “Establish agreements with [Lehigh Valley] municipalities without public water service designating the authority as the service provider to all new development.”

Before the authority proceeds with its plans for record expansion, it would be wise to look at the consequences of the township’s statutorily enforced water and sewer arrangements from the 1960s that created an unbridled water and sewer growth to the authority’s home base, Lower Macungie. The authority can force any landholder who requests a subdivision to put water lines down both sides of the entire property and hook up water and sewer.

So any farmer who wants to give an acre of land to his children is a target. Then any new houses within 1,000 feet of any of those borders will be forced into public water and any property in the way will be condemned, and houses along the new lines will usually be forced into the public service at great expense. Eventually nearly all houses will be forced into public water and sewer over time.

The authority has recently placed two new wells next to the creek to pump 4 million gallons per day. The location of the wells does the most harm to the creek and gives the best yields to authority, according to hydrologists from the Delaware River Basin Commission and Lehigh County Commissioner Percy Dougherty.

The new wells are needed to supply the bottling plants in Upper Macungie Township — Nestle, Niagara, Coca-Cola and Samuel Adams, which are scheduled to take an extra 3.2 million gallons a day from the 2006 levels, according to authority documents.

After the Lower Macungie planning commission rejected the wells, authority lawyers turned a municipal meeting into a seven-hour, trial-type meeting, complete with a stenographer. Authority director Aurel Arndt was asked, “When you dry up the creek and aquifer, who will have their water restricted, the residents or the water bottlers?” His answer was the residents will be restricted.

In the end, the authority won the wells, but was required to put in a test well to measure water levels in the creek, which it fought. It hates when other governmental bodies have any say in protecting their communities, whether it be planning or aquifer protection.

An authority spokesperson actually said in a public meeting that Lower Macungie should have no say in how much water the agency takes from the aquifer, it can pump as much as it likes and that there would no impact on the creek or private wells.

So the authority’s plan is to pump the Little Lehigh aquifer mercilessly, transfer the water to bottlers, pump the sewage into the Jordan Creek, and turn western Lehigh County into a cluster of 1/4-acre lots in developments served by public water, just like what happened in Lower Macungie.

The authority is holding public meetings, where no public input is accepted, to turn northwestern Lehigh County into a clone of Lower Macungie. This will make any local planning board decisions on growth a mere small impediment to the steamrolling authority, as developers may threaten and sue their way into building; steroidal growth of the worst sort will follow.



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