Lackawaxen crossing nears completion; PCCD concerned about ‘slow restoration’
October 19, 2011 —
PIKE COUNTY, PA — The controversial “wet crossing” of the Lackawaxen River began last week following ongoing delays due to unusual amounts of rainfall and hurricane impacts in the region. The crossing is nearing completion as crews from Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP) and its contractor, Henkels and McCoy, work to fill the 15-foot-deep trench excavated during the ongoing expansion of TGP’s 300 Line Project.
Wet crossings are conducted in flowing water resulting in increased sedimentation below the excavation site. The practice has the potential to adversely affect aquatic life forms from macroinvertebrates to fish, and requires careful monitoring of turbidity levels.
Earlier this year, the Pike County Conservation District (PCCD) noted in its spring newsletter, “The District repeatedly voiced concerns during review of the Pike County portion of the project about a ‘wet crossing’ of the Lackawaxen River proposed at the project’s 11th hour by Tennessee Gas Pipeline. TGP’s construction plans and permit applications originally called for best management practices (BMPs) designed to divert flow around the trench excavation, which is the norm for in-stream work in Special Protection Waters such as the Lackawaxen. After much discussion and in spite of local concerns about the environmental impacts and impacts to recreational use of the River, the ‘wet crossing’ method was approved by DEP. [Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection].”
Pike County commissioners and Lackawaxen Township supervisors considered an appeal of the permit, but opted instead for a TGP-proposed settlement whereby TGP would conduct the wet crossing during anticipated lower flows in August to fulfill the company’s time commitments and contractual obligations.
“The District remains concerned with the ‘wet crossing’ procedure, and believes that TGP should have been required to utilize an alternative crossing method which is less environmentally harmful and more compliant with the state’s antidegradation requirements,” concluded PCCD.
While the crossing was being finalized this week, Beecher updated the PCCD board at its October 17 meeting. “One of the things we’ve learned with this project is that everything takes longer than they tell us it’s going to. Things went pretty quickly to get the trench dug, but the trench kept filling in with material from the flows in the river, so it took them longer to get the depth they needed and to get the pipe into the trench.”