Federal, State Officials To Meet Local Group In Roulette

From Potter County Today

sourcewaterFederal and state environmental officials will be in Potter County on Wednesday (Jan. 11) to learn more about county’s Triple Divide Watershed Coalition. That organization will meet at 9 am in the Roulette Firehall. During a meeting of the commissioners’ Water Quality Action Team this week, Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) water specialist Mark Stephens praised the work of local officials and volunteers who have banded together for water protection.

“Potter County’s Triple Divide organization is not only the first of its kind in Pennsylvania, but also a leader in the nation,” Stephens said. He’ll be joined at Wednesday’s meeting by another DEP water specialist, JohnVan Zant, as well as K. R. Young, a sourcewater protection specialist with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Young is looking to use the Potter County organization as a national model, demonstrating the successful implementation of federal watershed protection initiatives.

Representatives from all 10 public water suppliers in Potter County have joined Triple Divide. Its goal is to protect public water sources from potential degradation caused by natural gas well drilling or other disturbances, through a combination of public education, communication with industry, and/or regulations. The group draws its names from the county’s unique geographic distinction as the headwaters for three major Northeastern U.S. watersheds. Water from Potter County flows north to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence, south to the Ohio and Mississippi, and east to the Atlantic Ocean. By forming the coalition, public water system managers in Potter County will be able to share best practices and speak with a unified voice on proposed legislation and regulations/enforcement issues. Coalition members will also investigate options for the county or municipal governments to control industrial activities such as natural gas drilling in close proximity to public water sources and recharge areas. Another benefit is bulk purchasing of supplies, equipment, laboratory services, etc.

All of the public water supplies in Potter County have been tested to establish a baseline. Coalition members are looking into acquiring automated equipment that monitors water quality on a constant basis. Results would be more reliable than sporadic testing. Members may also recommend to their municipal officials or the County Planning Commission land use controls to protect sensitive sourcewater areas. The Coalition is also working to build public awareness and reduce risks. Local organizations — including municipal authorities, the Potter County Conservation District, Penn State Extension, Potter County Planning Commission and others — have signed on to support the program.

Potter County Today is a timely information site courtesy of the Potter County Commissioners. Reprinted with Permission.

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