The search for what is damaging the Little Bushkill Creek in Plainfield Township is scheduled to begin next week, township supervisors were told Thursday night.
URS, an engineering firm with offices in Fort Washington, Pa., will start sampling seven or more locations, collecting data to determine the source of high levels of fecal bacteria, unless rainy weather puts the sampling on hold. The bacteria levels are so high in the creek the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has listed the Little Bushkill Creek as “impaired for recreational uses.”
By finding the cause and determining a remedy to the pollution, the township hopes to get the creek removed from the “impaired list.”
Being on the list carries a number of potential detrimental effects, not only for swimmers, but for developers who own property along the creek. As long as the creek is listed as “impaired,” there are additional restrictions placed on developers.
“We’re trying to save money in the long run,” said Robin Dingle, coordinator for the Little Bushkill Creek Restoration Project. “We have to find out where the problems are and repair them.”
The source of the pollution could range from a bad pipe or pipes to an expensive infrastructure problem, she said. The township could get financial help, possible from watershed restoration grant money, if a big-ticket fix is needed.
Work on sewer lines in nearby Wind Gap could possibly help “some of the problems”
If the township doesn’t take the lead and clean up the problem, Dingle said, the DEP will step in and the township will have to comply with the DEP’s corrective plan.
Dingle said URS, which has a contract with the township for about $40,000, expects to have a final report completed in mid-November and available for a public hearing in December, Dingle said.
“We’ll have a pretty good handle on it by the end of the year,” Dingle said.