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Site work runoff muddies pristine Rapp Creek


Brown-water pollution of an Exceptional Value stream in Nockamixon Township, due to earth disturbance from site work for a new development off Route 611, has alarmed and angered residents.

Township officials, who have no direct jurisdiction in the matter, have assured that corrective action is being diligently pursued by the developer and its contractor.

At the township’s April 18 public board of supervisors meeting, officials noted that the insufficient protection of Rapp Creek, from work related to the Harrow Manor development, for which they granted approval in 2004, had been investigated by the Bucks County Conservation District (BCCD), which is working with the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) toward corrective action.

Streams with excellent water quality may be designated by DEP as Exceptional Value (EV). DEP says that “EV waters are to be protected at their existing quality; water quality shall not be lowered.”

Township Engineer Steve Baluh of C. Robert Wynn Associates noted that standards for the riparian buffer zone had been updated in 2010, six years after the township’s 2004 developer plan approval. The buffer is a vegetated area near a stream, usually forested, which helps shade and partially protect the stream from the impact of adjacent land uses.

Residents had been alarmed at significant tree removal for the development.

Baluh added that corrective action by the developer had been hindered by winter-to-spring weather conditions. Supervisors Chair Bill Sadow said that “the developer and their contractor have been cooperative in making improvements,” and that “there are no more woods to clear.”

He added later that “the developer has long been known to the township; they are not a fly-by-night operation.”

Baluh cautioned against expecting brown water to disappear, while Sadow noted that it had recently been a condition in the Delaware River.

The township is to continue to receive reports from BCCD on the matter. Baluh said that as of the time of the April 18 supervisors’ meeting, no report had been received since the BCCD’s March 27 Earth Disturbance Inspection Report.

That report included an “observed failure to implement erosion and sediment best management practices and provide temporary stabilization of the earth disturbance site, which conditions presented potential for pollution to waters of the Commonwealt,” and added “failure to comply with (NPDES) permit conditions.”

Also at the April 18 meeting, Emergency Management Committee Chair Ed Mocarsi reported that a meeting with new state Rep. Wendy Ullman had shown her to be “very supportive.”

“The floods of 2004 and 2005 had left us pretty much on our own in Upper Bucks, and we have come a long way since then, especially with new emergency management in the county starting seven years ago, and also support from our state rep,” he said. “Things have gone from not so good to very good, and it was good to hear strong support from the new state rep going forward.”