First, I would like to thank Milford Township and Milford Water Authority (MWA) for allowing LVL developers to present their mega-warehouse distribution center to the public.
First, I would like to thank Milford Township and Milford Water Authority (MWA) for allowing LVL developers to present their mega-warehouse distribution center to the public. I heard LVL’s presentations four times. Plans appeared to be flawed and incomplete from the first presentation to the MWA on 6/13/22. I believe this made the Milford Township planning board’s decision not to recommend this project to the Milford Township supervisors an easy one, as LVL was not willing to do the needed studies to protect the aquifer and springs.
LVL’s lawyer stated during the first presentation that there were “not-so-good wetlands” on the subject property. “The wetlands were to be used to infiltrate storm water and sewage into the groundwater.” I engaged the lawyer, as the public was allowed to ask questions about the project. I informed him that the Sawkill Creek is EV [exceptional value; an environmental protection under state law], which would make the wetlands EV as well. He argued they are isolated and not connected to the Exceptional Value Sawkill Creek. That began the quest that led to the discovery of the upper springs of the Milford Aquifer.
On July 24, we performed our first “windshield” survey, using the applicant’s plans and exhibits of the subject and surrounding properties. We turned on Steele Lane, located off Route 6 on the southwest corner of the subject property. We parked and got out of the car.
As there was a pause in traffic noise, we heard the sound of flowing water. In the ditch between Route 6 and Steele Lane was clean water flowing under the road onto the subject property. Note that we are in an extended dry period with less than an inch of rain since our observations began.
Further investigation, following the small stream, led us upslope. I pursued it, walking along the highway, and Gail followed the well-worn deer trails to a series of active springs in the middle of the hillside. Much to our surprise, there was a cement springhouse discharging out from a plastic pipe. We estimated the flow at more than a gallon per minute, and the water had a temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit, indicating ground water coming to the surface. Gail and I actually poured ourselves a glass of water from the spring and drank it!
We had discovered the Upper Springs of the Milford Aquifer. This is the genesis of the stream flowing onto the subject property. We then wandered through the sheds that are for sale on the property. Along the bottom of the hillside the area remained wet just off the grassy area where the sheds were located. The wetland with spring areas continued north towards a “possible isolated wetland,” as the LVL documents put it, and pond location.
Our windshield survey continued up to the top of Buist Road. The extensive wetland complex continues north toward Route 6, where it discharges onto the subject property into the “marshy wetland,” according to the site plans. There is a large culvert pipe, installed during Route 6 construction, that connects the wetlands along both sides of the highway.
During the planning board meeting, the presenter admitted the downslope wetlands were in fact EV. The applicant’s plan is to use the wetlands on the subject property to filter stormwater and sewage discharge before it reaches the groundwater. The marshy wetland discharges into a “watercourse” identified on the applicant’s plans. This watercourse was cut off and obstructed during construction of Victory Drive. The wetland that remains on the east side of Victory Drive drains directly into the EV Sawkill Creek. Victory Drive had obstructed the flow of the watercourse, or otherwise it would still flow directly into the EV Sawkill Creek.
At the bottom of the hill we observed a flowing stream that flowed under Victory Drive toward the Sawkill Creek connecting with the wetlands on the east side of Victory Drive. The small tributary originates at the bottom of the hillside on the east end of the subject property through a series of springs. Random sampling over the past month resulted in temperature readings between 57-59 degrees Fahrenheit, a sign that groundwater flowing off the subject property is contributing to the base flow of the Sawkill Creek. Pressures deep underground force water up through the sand and gravel subsurface into the unconfined aquifer. The proposed mega-warehouse, with 850,000 square feet of impervious surfaces, would sit right in the middle of the upper springs of the Milford Aquifer, where groundwater is very shallow, and often comes to the surface.
I hope our community leaders and stakeholders can use this opportunity to finally work together to permanently protect this extremely sensitive property containing the upper springs of the Milford Aquifer.
Joe Zenes and Gail Lamb-Doto live in Pike County, PA.
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