(Photo credit Dr. Joseph Simons) As I gathered my notepad and cell phone from the car outside of a rustic home along East Valley Road east of Loganton, it felt as though I was about to walk into a scene from a John Grisham book.
Thanks In this small country home, I was soon to get details of a potentially large threat to the environment from a small group of concerned citizens who had grown weary of the corporate stonewalls and legal minefield they continued to run into while trying to protect their communities – a scene that deserved some heroic Matt Damon-like resolve straight from the “Rainmaker” movie.
Instead, they got me, just a week after I started my new job as the Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper in mid-February. My goal was to gather information in an effort to carry on the torch of my predecessor, Carol Parenzan, who first raised red flags about Nicholas Meats and the impact the rapidly expanding business could have on the Sugar Valley Watershed and the nearby Fishing Creek.
Fishing Creek is a nearly 43-mile tributary to the Bald Eagle Creek – and eventually the West Branch of the Susquehanna. It features prized Class A fishing waters featuring populations of wild brown and brook trout. The creek flows through the Tylersville Hatchery and near the Lamar National Fish Hatchery.
The meeting at the Loganton-area home provided numerous facts, figures and updates about the Nicholas Meats expansions and requested permits to draw additional water from the region’s underground aquifer – the same groundwater pool that feeds Fishing Creek and provides freshwater to many throughout the region.
Current proposals would allow the company to draw upwards of 120 gallons of water per minute (or nearly 173,000 gallons a day) from the aquifer – water that would be used for the cooling, cleaning and processing of raw meat from Nicholas Meats’ slaughterhouse. Additional plans for expansion within the next 15 years could increase that need for water to close to 700,000 gallons of water per day.
The permits need to be approved by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC), which is looking for public comment as part of their efforts to fully investigate the request before making a decision.
In a Zoom meeting with Andrew Dehoff, Todd Eaby and Gene Veno, of SRBC, along with three concerned Sugar Valley residents, it was learned that the SRBC and Fish and Boat Commission recently visited the site and is requesting more studies and information. The SRBC has hit a few dead ends with certain landowners that have wells and springs which would provide valuable information via testing before any concrete decision is made.
The SRBC did relay that Nicholas Meats is looking to hopefully add a wastewater digester in the future that would allow them to re-use upwards of 90 percent of the water, but that could take several years to come to fruition.
Ultimately, the SRBC carries the heavy burden of making a decision that factors in what is best for the communities in that region both financially (Nicholas Meats offers an economic boost) and environmentally (both immediate and long-range impacts).
The Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association is committed to protecting our valuable network of freshwater tributaries along the Susquehanna River, knowing that issues such as these can have quite a large ripple effect throughout the greater watershed.
We will continue to stay involved with this situation and look forward to the potential of in-person meetings between the SRBC and the residents of the Sugar Valley Watershed.
We urge people in that region to provide whatever information they can about their wells and any concerns they may have directly with the SRBC.
We also encourage everyone throughout the Middle Susquehanna watershed, especially those who have a vested interest in our trout fisheries, to look closer at the situation, share information with other anglers and provide public feedback to the SRBC while there is still time.
Check out more details of Nicholas Meats’ request by clicking here.
Voice your opinions directly to the SRBC in this matter by clicking here.
If you’d like to reach out to the Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association on this matter, you can email me (John Zaktansky) directly at email@example.com
6/19/2020 06:10:27 pm
Would like to receive more information. Thank you. Dave Lyle
6/20/2020 07:00:05 am
Would definitely be interested in more information. Feel free to send comments/feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
6/24/2020 09:18:22 am
Please do not approve.
6/24/2020 10:10:55 am
Meat processing and packing plants have become a significant problem. There is not only the demand on the aquifer of concern, but the waste water burden that will be generated as well. At a minimum, the permit should not be granted unless the waste water treatment, including provision for major water reuse, and properly monitored and documented management of waste from the plant itself and from the waste water treatment system. Water consumption is not the only way these plants threaten local water resources. If waste driers are to be used, then those should be scrutinized as well as they can contribute to both air and water degradation.
6/24/2020 11:15:42 am
This should be automatically rejected. Drought, among the MANY reasons. Do not grant any access.
6/27/2020 11:47:23 am
It is class A wild trout lets see if "SO CALLED" protection, is anything but political bullshit and "NO" these guys have been cited for animal cruelty and the sure as hell mistreat their employees according to their ratings.
6/30/2020 05:06:44 am
That is a tremendous amount of water and it can only have a tremendous amount of impact on the water system. None of it positive. Too often decisions of this magnitude are made with economic considerations for the present, but neglect to think about the economic impact this will have on the future when the environment is impacted and many more towns suffer the consequences. This cannot be looked at in a vacuum. There are so many other stresses on the system and the outcome of how they will affect the waterways has yet to be determined.
8/7/2020 09:39:56 am
I'm all for success in private industry but not at the expense of the environment or the surrounding areas quality of life. I would highly encourage those who would approve this permit to do extensive research on Nicolas Meats and to personally visit the plant to view the negative impact that it has already had on our beautiful county . Come meet with the locals in Loganton. Meet with neighboring well owners and hear their horror stories of dealing with this company and listen to the empty promises made for years now. It is my belief that a through investigation needs to occur to show the past practices of this company in order to predict the companies future promises before a responsible decision can be made.
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John Zaktansky is an award-winning journalist and avid promoter of the outdoors who loves camping, kayaking, fishing and hunting with the family.