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December 08, 2016
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Lackawaxen crossing nears completion; PCCD concerned about ‘slow restoration’

The same site on October 1. PCCD executive director Susan Beecher has questioned the necessity of clearcutting steep banks like these and wants to see the practice change when TGP’s Northeast Upgrade Project begins next year. Clearing occurs within a 10-foot vegetated buffer along streams; impacts of the practice include loss of wildlife habitat, trees and the riparian buffer, all of which affect bank stabilization. PCCD is asking for a 50-foot vegetated buffer along streams.

Even so, Beecher said, “It went about as well as we could have expected. We had some high turbidity measurements the first day.” Beecher expressed concerns that the backfilling of the trench and removal of the temporary bridge will create substantial sedimentation. PCCD staff will continue to take turbidity readings.

“All in all, it went relatively smoothly considering the magnitude of the project,” she added. “It certainly was not a totally clean project. The first day they were excavating, the river was pretty nasty looking and there was a plume of sediment in the Delaware River as far as we could see.”

Jerry Castillo, manager of the environmental permitting group at TGP’s parent company, El Paso Corporation, said that crews were working round the clock to get the crossing done. “There’s a level of urgency associated with what we’re doing,” he said. The company took samples at specified distances at least every three hours to record turbidity levels. Castillo said the numbers stayed within permit levels.

Beecher said there has been additional discussion about the crossing of Shohola Creek, which TGP has likewise proposed to change from a dry to a wet crossing. “We really raised objections to that and so did DEP and the Army Corps of Engineers. DEP was very supportive of our position that it needed to be done according to what was in the permit.”

Completion of the Shohola Creek crossing will conclude the major stream crossings in Pike County, but PCCD remains concerned about the pace of restoration. “We’re still having pretty frustrating discussions with TGP about getting restoration work done, particularly in some of the Exceptional Value stream corridors,” she said. “Their restoration crews are moving very, very slowly.”

Beecher noted that her staff has seen some improvement with BMP management, but that problems still exist. “The BMPs are overwhelmed because there’s so much area disturbed and they’re not designed to take the kinds of flows that they’ve been getting. It comes down to the fact that they’ve got too much earth disturbed to manage all of the BMP maintenance to prevent pollution.”

With the approach of TGP’s next project, the Northeast Upgrade Project (NUP) in 2012, PCCD is trying to mitigate impacts in advance. “We’ve had a couple of meetings with them and talked about the issues of disturbing less right of way at one time, but also, trying to get the restoration work done in a more timely manner. DEP is also pressing that issue and so are the other conservation districts that havebeen involved.”