Water was a hot topic at a Kutztown borough Zoom meeting last week with the review of a water usage request for a proposed Maxatawny Township warehouse.

The Water and Wastewater Committee recommended a denial of a request by Duke Realty for the Kutztown Municipal Authority to supply 84,000 gallons per day to Duke’s proposed 272-acre warehouse project along Route 222 at Long Lane in Maxatawny.

Committee member Zebulon Hull motioned to deny Duke’s request, seconded by Derek Mace.

At a virtual meeting Tuesday, Oct. 20, council is scheduled to consider the committee’s recommendation. Council has the final decision and it’s unclear how a denial would affect the developer’s plans.

Borough Manager Gabriel Khalife explained that the authority was created to serve water and or wastewater service outside the borough.

Nick Rakowski of Duke Realty gave a presentation addressing concerns regarding Kutztown’s available water capacity.

In looking at data over the past four years, citing a 2017 report, Rakowski said Duke Realty saw that the highest month’s usage showed 642,000 gallons of daily use at the Kutztown water plant while the plant has the capacity to filter 1.8 million gallons a day.

The well capacity is 4 million gallons per day. Water plant manager Troy Smith confirmed those numbers during the meeting.

“That leaves approximately 1.1 million gallons of excess capacity available now,” Rakowski said.

The request was for 84,000 gallons.

Lisa Ladd-Kidder, Kutztown resident, questioned the validity and strength of the 2017 report pointing out different capacity figures in a 2015 report by a local geological expert familiar with the area.

Both reports were conducted by Spotts, Stevens, & McCoy but by different experts.

“To accept the capacity information that Nick was offering as a way to discredit the report that we have submitted to our council in 2015 is not acceptable,” she said. “That’s my opinion. I think it would be a great mistake to accept that without confirming or conducting another evaluation.”

Phila Back, Kutztown resident, urged the denial of the Duke Realty warehouse project’s request for water.

“One, needlessly pumping more water from our wells increases the risk of PCE contamination from New Enterprise’s quarry and the Topton hazardous waste cleanup site,” Back said. “Two, given that the quarry dewatering is projected to result in a 1-million gallon per day deficit in the recharge of the aquifer, we must conserve our water to cushion the potential impact of drought. Three, supplying water for Duke will inevitably trigger demand to supply other properties in the area.”

She also expressed concerns with blasting at the quarry fracturing the limestone and potentially leading to pollution in the wells.

Back concluded her comments saying, “We should not be compounding these problems by pumping more water for Duke, especially in light of the further demand it will trigger which we may not be able to refuse. They can drill a well on their property, which is almost entirely outside the Saucony Creek Watershed and the well protection zone.”

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