2013-02-09 / Front Page

Opposition to water treatment plant surfaces

A public meeting of the Ulysses Township Board of Supervisors on Wednesday is the chosen battleground for some citizens who are poised to peacefully protest the gas drilling wastewater treatment plant planned for Potter County.

A small group of environmental activists labeling themselves the “Triple Divide Caretakers” have taken to the internet and area media to generate opposition. They hope their efforts will culminate with a good turnout for the supervisors’ meeting, which is scheduled for 6:30 pm on Feb. 13 at the Potter County Solid Waste Authority Building along Rt. 49, just north of Gold.

They cite the potential for disturbance of Ludington Run, a small tributary of the Genesee River that has been designated as an exceptional value stream.

Headwaters Reclamation Project is being proposed by a subsidiary of REVH2O, LLC, a company that also distributes an on-site, mobile treatment system, Sionix.

“Triple Divide Caretakers hope that a civil and informed discussion will benefifit the county and those most directly impacted in the Ulysses area,” according to the organization’s website. “The public has learned about this project from reports in the local papers, but until now hasn’t been invited to the discussion.”

In fact, there was broad media coverage announcing a public meeting of the Potter County Planning Commission in November, at which REVH2O representatives would be discussing the plan. Despite the publicity, the only attendees were Planning Commission members and staff.

According to information presented at that meeting, Headwaters Reclamation Project will be built on a 34-acre tract off Rt. 49, just south of Ulysses. Plans call for a 10.5-acre recycling facility to serve companies providing water for gas drilling across a wide area. If business ramps up, the plant could expand.

The facility will run ‘round the clock and treat a maximum of 420,000 gallons per day. Major components include a 1.1 million gallon brine tank and a 1.16 million gallon treated water tank. Contaminated hydraulic fracturing waste water will be trucked to the facility and the recycled water will be resold for additional use in gas wells.

David Kailbourne from RevH2O said the plant will “press” the solids out of the dirty water. They will be kept in a holding tank until they are transferred to a licensed landfifill. About fifive tons of sludge will be trucked from the site every two days.

There will be four bays, each equipped with a canopy and surrounded by a trench for catching any water that spills. Each bay will also contain a catch basin for drips and or spills. Under the concrete, there will be a safety “membrane” for extra protection against spills getting into the ground water. The treatment process is described by RevH2O as “completely mechanical, chemical-free, with zero emissions.”

County planners did express concerns about the volume of tanker truck traffific that will be using Rt. 49 and the connecting road to the plant. Kailbourne said PennDOT has issued a permit and the average truck count will likely not exceed 70 per day, even at peak production.

Because Ulysses Township has adopted its own Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance, the county has no regulatory authority.

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