VIGILANT CITIZENS URGED TO ATTEND PUBLIC FORUM
TO PROTECT DRINKING WATER SOURCE
OF EIGHT LOCAL MUNICIPALITIES
Ambridge, Pa.—Timely is the word for “Protect Your Drinking Water,” a public forum to be held in Ambridge, Pa. on April 20, 2016. Starting at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria of Ambridge High School at 909 Duss Ave., vigilant citizens from Ambridge, Baden, Bell Acres, Economy, Edgeworth, Harmony, Leet, and Leetsdale will learn how they can help protect the source of their drinking water from potential contaminants.
An Associated Press-GfK Poll conducted online in February, 2016 showed that only about half of Americans are very confident in the safety of what’s flowing from their tap. And the same poll showed more than half of Americans believing that the problems in Flint, Mich., are a sign of widespread problems in the U.S.
Unlike Flint, a closer-to-home crisis in Coudersport, Pa., at 200 miles away, and previous water-quality problems in Beaver Falls, at 16 miles away, have shown that safe drinking water starts way before it gets to the kitchen faucet: it starts at the source. And that source for customers of the Ambridge and Edgeworth Water Authorities is a unique rural watershed, the Service Creek Watershed and Ambridge Reservoir.
At the forum, explaining how local residents can work together to protect this precious water source will be the job of three water-quality experts: Don Muir, Source Water Protection Plan Specialist, Pennsylvania Rural Water Association; Daniel S. Fisher, Hydrogeologist, Wetstone Solutions, LLC; and Dr. John Stolz, Duquesne Center for Environmental Research and Education.
These speakers will also field questions on why the Ambridge Reservoir, as the source of local drinking water, needs protection now more than ever.
As the Coudersport and Beaver Falls crises have shown, preventing the contamination of source water is far less costly—in terms of both tax dollars and public health—than clean-up.
“Everybody takes for granted that they’re going to have water,“ said Beaver Falls Water Authority Plant Engineer Jim Willard in an interview for a 2013 story by Rachel Morgan in the Beaver County Times. But “an unknown source of some kind of a contaminant” is “difficult to deal with because you don’t see it coming.”
According to the DEP website, in the southwest region of Pennsylvania, source water protection is especially important because “if a drinking water source becomes contaminated, few alternatives exist.”
And contamination is hazardous to public health. As DEP Southwest Region SWP Coordinator Tom McCaffrey said, “We’re learning more and more each day about potential human impacts, public health impacts of a wide variety of contaminants that we never knew were contaminants in the past.”
This means, in the words of Mark Stephens, DEP Northcentral Region SWP Coordinator, that “Community water suppliers can’t afford to not know . . . where contamination is and how quickly it can get to their water supply.”
Fortunately, there is hope for keeping the Ambridge Reservoir uncontaminated. That’s because the PA DEP will not only totally fund an SWPP for the reservoir, but also even help to create that SWPP.
Remarkably, there’s only one catch for reaping this benefit, and it’s simple: Local residents and their leaders must act to request the DEP’s help. In other words, no request, no help.
Inspiring that request is the goal of the April 20 forum.
The idea for the forum arose when a group of concerned citizens sought ways to spread word of how the PA DEP can help. That group, Citizens to Protect the Ambridge Reservoir (CPAR), was awarded a grant from Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Community Foundation to sponsor the forum.
“A sacred trust is at work every time we turn on the tap,” said CPAR member and South Heights Council President Bob Schmetzer. “Let’s keep it sacred.”
“Protect Your Drinking Water: A Public Forum” is a timely first step toward keeping that trust sacred for many local residents.
Contact: Terrie Baumgardner
814-270-1142 (mobile) or 724-375-5949 (home)
Videos by Tom McCaffrey and Mark Stephens at PA DEP’s Source Water Protection link, www.sourcewaterpa.org
Morgan, Rachel. “Vindy.com – Waterworld: Behind the Scenes at the Beaver Falls Municipal Authority.” Vindy.com. Beaver County Times, 2016. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.
Caruso, David B., Associated Press, “Pa. allows dumping of tainted waters from gas boom.”
Troutman, Melissa. “Breaking: Oil-gas Drilling Impacts Public Drinking Water Supplies in Potter County.” Invisible Hand. Public Herald. http://publicherald.org/breaking-oil-gas-drilling-impacts-public-drinking-water-supplies-in-potter-county/
Notes to Editors
A colorful poster/flyer announcing the forum is attached.
Event Title: Protect Your Drinking Water: A Public Forum
Date: Wednesday, April 20, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Location: Ambridge High School Cafeteria, 909 Duss Ave., Ambridge, Pa., 15003
Cost: The forum is free and open to the public. Parking is also free.
Speakers: Don Muir, Source Water Protection Plan Specialist, Pennsylvania Rural Water Association; Daniel S. Fisher, Hydrogeologist, Wetstone Solutions, LLC; and Dr. John Stolz, Duquesne Center for Environmental Research and Education
The following eight municipalities receive their water from the Ambridge Reservoir: Ambridge, Baden, Bell Acres, Economy, Edgeworth, Harmony, Leet and Leetsdale.
“Protect Your Drinking Water: A Public Forum,” is sponsored by Citizens to Protect the Ambridge Reservoir (CPAR).