Water Events - a chronology
The following is a listing of significant events, with the most current shown first, concerning Zelienople's water sources. Included is in-depth information which is provided through links to press releases and other documents. The text which appears in red font has been added as of 3/22/04 to describe the Borough's efforts to improve Scholars Run reliability as a drinking water source and the recent negotiations between the Borough and PA DEP relative to improvements required to the Borough's raw water reservoirs.
3/8/04 The Borough authorizes the execution of the Consent Order & Agreement with the PA DEP for the repair/rehabilitation of the raw water reservoirs.
3/4/04 The Borough issued a letter to PA DEP requesting their assistance in funding a study to evaluate the feasibility of an inter-municipal effort to providing water service with Harmony Borough.
2/16/04 The Water Committee met with representatives from Harmony Borough Water Authority to discuss a regionalized approach between the two communities to providing water service.
2/9/04 The revised draft to the Consent Order & Agreement was received by the Borough from PA DEP.
2/5/04 The Borough's recommended revisions to the Consent Order & Agreement were forwarded today to PA DEP.
2/2/04 The Water Committee (three representatives of Zelienople Borough Council) met with representatives from Harmony Borough Water Authority to discuss a regionalized approach between the two communities to providing water service.
1/22/04 Borough representatives attended a meeting with PA DEP officials hosted by Harmony Borough. The discussion centered around the compliance issues Harmony Borough is facing with their treatment plant, the issues Zelienople is facing with regard to the repair/rehabilitation of its raw water reservoirs and the obstacles we may face with regard to a regional system for providing water service.
1/21/04 Borough staff and legal and engineering counsel met to formulate comments to the revised Consent Order & Agreement.
1/16/04 Senator Jane Orie hosted a meeting today to discuss the issues the Borough has been experiencing with their water sources and the possibility of exploring a regionalized approach between the communities of Harmony Borough and Zelienople to providing water service. Representative Dick Stevenson, Butler County Commissioner Jim Kennedy, Harmony Borough Council President Jeff Smith and PA DEP Northwest Region Director Kelly Burch were among those in attendance.
1/9/04 The revised Consent Order & Agreement, negotiated by PA DEP and Borough representatives, was received today.
12/30/03 In response to a letter that was issued to Governor Ed Rendell by the Butler County CDC regarding the difficulty experienced by AK Steel in meeting discharge limits for sulfates and chlorides, the Borough issued a letter to the Butler County CDC requesting that the Borough be included in any meetings which are held with elected officials and representatives of AK Steel to discuss the issue. Governor Rendell, PA DEP Secretary McGinty, Senator Jane Orie, Representative Dick Stevenson and the Butler County Commissioners were provided copies of the Borough's letter.
12/15/03 A file review of PA DEP Division of Dam Safety records indicates that PA DEP classifies reservoir no. 1 as a non-jurisdictional dam and no permits are required to perform maintenance work on an existing dam.
12/8/03 A meeting was held between PA DEP and Borough representatives to negotiate the terms of the Consent Order & Agreement.
11/12/03 A draft Consent Order & Agreement is submitted to the Borough by PA DEP. Borough staff and legal and engineering counsel met on 11/23/03 to review concerns with the draft Agreement and formulate a response.
10/28/03 Despite the fact that the Borough responded in August to DEP's request for additional information on the Water Allocation Permit for the flashboard project at the Scholars Run diversion dam, DEP advises that the application is still being reviewed.
10/14/03 The Borough submits to PA DEP its proposal for repairs to the raw water reservoirs.
9/30/03 Borough representatives met with PA DEP officials to discuss the deficiencies at the Borough's raw water reservoirs. The Borough has been directed to prepare a written report, which is to contain solutions and milestone dates of achievement, to be submitted no later than October 15, 2003. The Borough's written report will be the basis upon which a Consent Order & Agreement is drafted which will provide the Department with the ability to enforce the effectuation of the repairs. The Department was reminded that their inactivity, non-responsiveness and difficulty in working with us through the Water Allocation and Dam Permits for the flashboard project is pushing us to the Connoquenessing Creek as a primary water source.
8/28/03 A Notice of Violation is issued to the Borough for the seepage at the raw water reservoir. The deficiencies identified are overgrowth of vegetation, seepage and severe slopes of the impoundments. The Department indicated that the deficiencies were a violation of the State's Safe Drinking Water Act which requires the Borough to "provide and effectively operate and maintain public water facilities." The Borough is required to make arrangements for a meeting to be held with the Department no later than 9/17/03.
8/15/03 The Borough responds with the additional information requested to PA DEP's pre-denial letter on the Water Allocation permit.
7/18/03 The Borough receives a pre-denial letter from PA DEP on the Water Allocation permit. Additional information has been requested.
7/8/03 DEP representatives and representatives from the Division of Dam Safety performed an investigation of reservoir no. 1 and determined that the severe slope of the impoundment dam may be contributing to the seepage. The Borough questioned the Department's authority to direct the repairs on this dam as it is "non-regulated" by the State. The Department is to provide the Borough a response.
6/26/03 DEP inspects the raw water reservoirs and identifies a leak on the east side of reservoir no. 1. DEP requires that the seepage be monitored over the weekend.
5/27/03 A request is made of the Division of Dam Safety to forego the requirement that additional inundation easements be obtained from those property owners who are in the 10, 25 and 100-year flood elevations with the flashboards in place. For the 10-year storm event, the engineer has determined that the difference on these elevations with and without the flashboards in place is so minimal that, in all likelihood, the area could not even be defined in a legal description which is required for the easement agreement.
5/13/03 After delineating the topographic elevations for the 10, 25 and 100-year storm data as requested by the Division of Dam Safety for the Dam Permit, additional permanent easements will be required from property owners for those areas which are identified as potential inundation areas with and without the flashboards in place. Legal descriptions will need to be prepared and easement agreements prepared and signed by the property owners.
4/29/03 Borough officials met with PA DEP officials to discuss the Water Allocation permit and how to address the concerns of the PA Fish & Boat Commission. The following is agreed to and summarized in writing to PA DEP in order to proceed with the application process: the Borough will make a written commitment to work toward meeting a 20% passby requirement (20% of the total flow in Scholars Run is made to pass over the dam. For example, if total flow in Scholars Run is 10 gallons per day, the Borough must make 2 gallons per day flow over the Scholars Run diversion dam) to allow for the issuance of an interim water allocation permit for a period of not more than 5 years or until AK Steel meets their final effluent limits in their NPDES permit; the Borough further agrees that the interim permit is neither long-term nor precedent-setting; flow monitoring would be performed over the five-year period to determine average daily flow of Scholars Run to arrive at a flow which would be required to support aquatic life downstream.
4/9/03 The Division of Dam Safety requires that 10, 25 and 100-year flood elevations, with and without the flashboards in place, be plotted on a map to determine if there will be additional properties affected by the project.
4/8/03 Following the request made in January, a conference call is held with the PA Fish & Boat Commission to review their comments on the Water Allocation permit and the need for a conservation release (the requirement that the Borough provide for a flow of water over the Scholars Run Diversion dam at all times water is flowing in Scholars Run in order to support aquatic life downstream). The PFBC advised that they have no regulatory authority in the permitting process and confirmed that their role is strictly advisory with DEP holding all regulatory authority to issue the permit.
4/7/03 This week, PA DOT was provided the data they requested in order to provide an opinion to the Division of Dam Safety that the flashboard project will not have an adverse impact on their bridge which crosses Rt 19 and is upstream of the Scholars Run diversion dam.
3/10/03 Historical flow data for a 13-year period was compiled by the Borough and submitted to PA DEP in order to bolster the argument that aquatic life downstream of the Scholars Run diversion has been supported for over 80 years despite the fact that water does not flow over the dam on a daily basis.
2/25/03 Back up data for the hydrologic and hydraulic calculations was sent to the Division of Dam Safety. In addition, a letter was requested from PA DOT confirming that the flashboard project will not affect their bridge on Rt 19, located upstream of the Scholars Run diversion dam.
01/27/03 The Borough has requested a conference call to review the comments provided by the PA Fish & Boat Commission on the Water Allocation permit. A request is received from the Division of Dam Safety for back up data for the hydrologic and hydraulic calculations for the Dam Permit and additional information on the potential impact on upstream properties with the flashboards in place.
01/24/03 The Borough was advised today by PA DEP that the Water Allocation Permit, per comments received from the PA Fish & Boat Commission, must address how the Borough will protect and provide a safe zone of passage for aquatic life during periods of low flow on Scholars Run. It appears that the Borough will need to ensure water flow over the dam at all times during the year even though, historically, often water does not flow over the dam for several months of the year and, at times, goes completely dry for extended periods.
01/06/03 The hydraulic and hydrology analysis for the Dam Permit has been completed by the Division of Dam Safety and they are currently completing their general engineering review.
12/12/02 The contract was awarded for the installation of the removable flashboard system and meter pit at the Scholars Run diversion dam.
11/25/02 Notice has been received from the Division of Dam Safety that the Dam Permit application is administratively complete and the technical review has begun.
10/21/02 The Division of Dam Safety was contacted this week to discuss the procedure by which to submit the balance of the information required to complete the Dam Permit application, specifically, inundation easements and a proposed construction schedule.
09/18/02 As the Borough draws water from the Connoquenessing Creek, the reverse osmosis system is being operated to remove sulfates and chlorides. This treated water is discharged to the raw water reservoir system and ultimately fed to the water treatment plant.
7/26/02 The Borough of Zelienople has initiated voluntary water conservation restrictions. Customers are requested to eliminate all unnecessary or nonessential uses of water. Levels in the raw water reservoirs are above those which normally initiate conservation measures. However, in accordance with the Borough's drought contingency plan, voluntary conservation measures are required to be initiated whenever the water supply is drawn from the Connoquenessing Creek.
7/11/02 Work began this week on the stream bank stabilization project at the Scholars Run diversion dam. In an effort to increase flow to the raw water reservoirs, silt is being removed at the staging area of the dam and the stream channel is being reconstructed to its original width and tied into the existing dam structure. The Borough has been advised by the Division of Dam Safety that easement agreements will be required from all property owners whose property may be inundated during periods of high flow with the flashboards in place.
7/8/02 With nitrate levels in the Connoquenessing Creek (1-2 ppm) well below the maximum contaminant level of 10 ppm and within permit limits, the Borough began augmenting its raw water supply with water drawn from the Connoquenessing Creek in anticipation of drought conditions over the next several months.
6/28/02 Contract drawings and technical specifications for the installation of the removable flashboard system at the Scholars Run diversion dam were finalized today.
6/26/2002 The Borough of Zelienople mailed the annual Consumer Confidence Report as required by law to all residents. This report covers the period 1/1/2001- 12/31/2001.
6/18/02 A public meeting was held with officials from US EPA and PA DEP to discuss water quality issues in the Connoquenessing Creek and AK Steel's progress in the conversion of their nitric acid pickling lines to a process which uses hydrogen peroxide. AK Steel declined the invitation to attend.
06/17/02 The Water Allocation Permit Amendment application and the Dam Permit application, required for the installation of the removable flashboards at the Scholars Run diversion dam, were forwarded to PA DEP this week.
06/13/02 Bids were received today for the material purchase for the removable flashboards.
5/8/2002 Butler County has been removed from a "Drought Watch" status.
4/30/2002 The Borough of Zelienople received a "Certificate of Recognition" from the PA Department of Environmental Resources recognizing the efforts of the Zelienople Water Department in meeting all MCL (maximum contaminant level) monitoring, reporting and treatment technique performance requirements under the Safe Drinking Water Program for the year 2001.
4/29/2002 Today the PA Department of Environmental Resources announced that a new water quality permit for AK Steel has been issued. In addition to discharge limits for nitrates, the Company was required to ensure sulfate and chloride levels in Zelienople finished water are below the secondary drinking water standard of 250 parts per million.
4/3/02 A meeting was held with the Division of Dam Safety and representatives of the PA DEP Northwest Region to discuss the proposed improvements to the Scholars Run diversion dam. Although approval from the Division of Dam Safety can take as long as 6-months, the Borough was encouraged to learn that they may be able to provide preliminary approval once the application has been determined to be administratively complete.
2/11/02 The required permits were submitted this week to the Butler County Conservation District for the stream bank stabilization project at the Scholars Run diversion dam.
1/7/02 The Borough was advised this week that a Dam Permit will be required from the PA DEP Division of Dam Safety in Harrisburg for the installation of the removable flashboard system at the Scholars Run diversion dam as well as the stream bank stabilization project. All information submitted to the Division of Dam Safety will also be reviewed by the Army Corps of Engineers. The Division of Dam Safety requires that a wetland delineation be performed to determine the impact of the area which may be inundated during periods of high flow with the flashboards in place.
11/21/01 The Borough of Zelienople has ceased the operation of the reverse osmosis filtration system as it has discontinued pumping water from the Connoquenessing Creek into its raw water reservoirs. Water flow, at this time, is from our primary water source, Scholar's Run.
11/9/01 A pre-application conference was held today with Water Supply Management, PA DEP Northwest Region, to discuss the Dam Improvement Project.
10/25/01 The Borough of Zelienople continues to pump water from the Connoquenessing Creek through the reverse osmosis system into its raw water reservoirs. With the recent rains, we are starting to pick up flow from Scholars Run, our primary water source. At the present time, however, voluntary water conservation restrictions are still in place.
09/17/01 A narrative describing the improvements proposed to the Scholars Run diversion dam was submitted to PA DEP Division of Dam Safety and Butler County Conservation District to determine permitting requirements. DEP visited the site on 9/27/01.
8/27/01 Borough Council approves the rehabilitation of the Scholars Run raw water intake as the "Drinking Water Improvement Project" to be funded by AK Steel per their Consent Agreement with the US EPA. The project will include dredging the impoundment/staging area and stabilizing the stream bank, raising the height of the dam (via flashboards), and adding a second pipe to carry water to the reservoirs. At the present time, during heavy rain we are able to capture a relatively small amount of water. This project will enable us to capture a substantial part of "rainy day" runoff. Click here for pictures of the Scholar's Run impoundment dam.
8/24/01 DEP Secretary David E. Hess expanded Pennsylvania's drought watch to include 22 additional counties. Butler County was one of the counties added to the statewide drought watch as of this date.
8/10/01 The Borough of Zelienople has initiated voluntary water conservation restrictions and customers are requested to eliminate all unnecessary or nonessential uses of water due to the lack of rainfall and decreasing levels in our raw water reservoirs.
8/6/01 On Friday, August 3, 2001, the reverse osmosis system was put into service in the Borough of Zelienople. The system was paid for by AK Steel under a Consent Agreement with the US EPA. The reverse osmosis system is an ultra-filtration system similar to those used by manufacturers in the processing of bottled water. Water drawn from the Connoquenessing Creek is put through a two-pass, ultra-filtration process and the clean water is returned to the Borough's raw water reservoirs after 99% of the nitrates and other impurities have been removed. The water returned to the reservoirs is tested on a daily basis to ensure quality. To date, the filtered water being returned to the reservoirs contains a nitrate level of less than 1 part per million - the maximum contaminant level is 10 parts per million. Residents can now be assured that water drawn from their tap meets Safe Drinking Water standards whether the source of the water is Scholars Run or the Connoquenessing Creek. Click here for picture of reverse osmosis treatment system.
8/2/01 Today the EPA issued a press release regarding the start of the Borough of Zelienople's reverse osmosis drinking water filter system. Click here for the EPA press release.
7/10/01 A meeting was hosted by Clean Water Action at the Zelienople Municipal Building to encourage additional participation during the public comment period on the AK Steel NPDES permit.
6/30/01 A copy of the revised draft permit to AK Steel for water discharges into the Connoquenessing Creek from its facility in Butler was published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, thus initiating a 30 day public comment period. The DEP address for comments is: DEP - Northwest Regional Office; Regional Manager, Water Management; 230 Chestnut St.; Meadville, PA 16335 and also to David Hess, Secretary, DEP; Rachel Carson State Office Bldg.; PO Box 2063; Harrisburg, PA 17105-2063. Click here for a copy of revised draft permit.
6/27/01 Today the Department of Environmental Protection issued a WQM Part II Permit to the Borough of Zelienople for a reverse osmosis treatment system which will provide for the removal of nitrates from the Borough's drinking water. This permit provides for the construction and operation of the reverse osmosis system. Also on this day, Borough officials met with representatives of Pennsylvania American Water Company to discuss a proposed interconnection between the two water systems in the event that Scholars Run goes dry and the reverse osmosis system is not operational.
6/20/01 Today, representatives from Clean Water Action and residents of Zelienople Borough traveled to Harrisburg to lobby for an earlier date for AK Steel to meet final effluent permit limits for nitrates. A press conference was held at the State Capitol Building and leaflets were distributed in front of the Rachel Carson State Office Building where DEP is headquartered. Click here for the Borough's press release.
6/14/2001 Today the DEP issued a revised draft permit to AK Steel for water discharges into the Connoquenessing Creek from its facility in Butler. The revised permit includes additional pollutant discharge limits, and revises other pollutant limits set in the original draft. Unfortunately, final permit effluent limits for nitrate do not need to be met until October 31, 2002. AK Steel has been aware of the need to reduce their discharges to the 999 lb./day limit since 1997. This permit does not offer the Borough immediate protection of its drinking water supply.
6/5/2001 The Borough of Zelienople was notified by DEP that it has been selected to receive a "Growing Greener New or Innovative Technology Grant" in the amount of $100,000.00. The project which was submitted by the Borough is for the installation of a Dissolved Air Flotation System (DAF) to improve clarification and remove algae, eliminating taste and odor problems. Click here for DEP press releases.
6/1/2001 The Borough of Zelienople mailed the annual Consumer Confidence Report as required by law to all residents. This report covers the period 1/1/2000 - 12/31/2000.
05/23/01 Clean Water Action hosted a meeting at the Borough Municipal Building to update members on the most recent efforts to secure an immediate and protective limit on nitrate discharges in the forthcoming NPDES permit to be issued by DEP's Northwest Region. Efforts are currently being directed to the coordination of a press conference in Harrisburg at the DEP offices on June 20, 2001. EVERYONE IS ENCOURAGED TO ATTEND. WE NEED YOU TO COME OUT AND DEMONSTRATE YOUR SUPPORT!! We are currently in the process of making transportation arrangements so we need to hear from you now. If you would like more information, please contact Suzanne Forrester of Clean Water Action at 412-765-3053 x 202 or the Borough office.
05/14/01 The Industrial Sewer Use Service Agreement between the Borough and Western Butler County Authority was executed by the Borough. This Agreement provides for the discharge of the filter backwash from the reverse osmosis system to the sewer authority. The $21,600 tap fee was paid by AK Steel. Also on this day, the Part II Water Quality Management Permit application was submitted to DEP's Northwest Region for review and approval. This permit allows for the operation of the reverse osmosis system.
05/13/01 A meeting was held with Marion Township Supervisors to discuss an interconnection between the two water systems in order that the Borough may be provided water during times when Scholars Run is not flowing and in the event the reverse osmosis system is not operational.
05/11/01 Site preparation for the reverse osmosis was completed today. The filtration system will be mobilized when the Borough advises AK Steel of its need to begin drawing water from the Connoquenessing Creek.
04/24/01 Through the efforts of Clean Water Action, Pittsburgh, a meeting was secured in Harrisburg with Deputy Secretary of Field Operations for DEP, Terry Fabian. Also in attendance were representatives from the DEP Northwest Region, including its Director, Steven Beckman. Again, the Borough stressed that AK Steel has been given enough time. Through their own engineering report, they have known since 1997 that nitrate discharges would need to be reduced to approximately 850 lbs. per day in order to ensure a safe nitrate level at the Borough's intake on the Connoquenessing. In addition, and to the best of our knowledge, AK Steel has not been required to provide documentation to DEP justifying the need for additional time to convert the pickling lines from nitric acid pickling to hydrogen peroxide. Furthermore, the engineering for these conversion processes is being performed in-house - "justifying" the need for further delays. It was suggested that AK Steel be required to hire outside consultants to complete the engineering process more expeditiously.
04/17/01 A meeting was held with U.S. Congresswoman Melissa Hart to gain her support for an immediate, protective limit on nitrate discharges from AK Steel and to receive her assistance in getting this message to the DEP office in Harrisburg.
03/29/01 Borough representatives met with PA DEP officials to discuss the possibility of obtaining a Water Allocation Permit from the Little Connoquenessing Creek. Permitting requirements for construction of a parallel intake line from Scholars Run to the raw water reservoirs was also discussed and is being reviewed by PA DEP's legal counsel and preliminary engineering investigation was begun by the Borough. Monies provided by AK Steel for the "Drinking Water Improvement Project", as directed by US EPA in their Consent Agreement with AK Steel, will assist in funding the project.
03/23/01 The Borough Manager, representatives from Clean Water Action and Borough residents traveled to Franklin PA to speak with Senator Mary Jo White. Senator White chairs the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. The purpose of the meeting was to impress upon the Senator that AK Steel has been given more than sufficient time to reduce their nitrate discharges to a level that will ensure the protection of the Borough's drinking water source. Senator White's assistance was requested in arranging a meeting with Acting Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, David Hess.
03/23/01 Today the Department of Environmental Protection issued a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit (NPDES) to the Borough of Zelienople which established discharge limitations and monitoring requirements for the proposed reverse osmosis system which will provide for the removal of nitrates from the Borough's drinking water. Click here for details. The Borough is in the process of applying for a Part II permit which will provide for the construction and operation of the system.
03/02/01 Today, EPA announced that a Consent Agreement with AK Steel was signed. Click here for the detailed Consent Agreement. The Agreement requires that AK Steel provide $60,000 to the Borough for a "Drinking Water Improvement Project" which will reduce the Borough's reliance on the Connoquenessing Creek as a water source.
02/15/01 Borough officials met with DEP to discuss the required permit to operate the reverse osmosis system and inquired about the possibility of the Department issuing another water allocation to the Borough to use the Little Connoquenessing Creek as a water source. An official request for consideration was submitted to the Department on 2/27/01.
01/27/01 Today, the draft NPDES permit for the Borough of Zelienople to operate a reverse osmosis system was released for public comment. (Click here for actual copy) The DEP has set limits in the permit which will be difficult if not impossible to meet without the complete cooperation of AK Steel. Under the draft permit, the Borough will not be able to draw from the Connoquenessing Creek unless the nitrate level of water drawn from the creek and discharged to the reservoirs is at or below 20 mg/l. With nitrate levels in the creek nearly constantly above 20 mg/l and sometimes as high as 130 mg/l, the Borough cannot draw from the creek without the immediate and drastic reduction of nitrate discharges from AK Steel or the installation of the reverse osmosis system. You can help by submitting your written comment to DEP. Within the next week, a sample comment letter will be provided on this site.
01/26/01 Due to objections raised by AK Steel relating to their draft NPDES permit, the Department of Environmental Protection is considering revoking the current draft permit and issuing a new draft permit. DEP attributes the potential need for the issuance of a new draft permit to "significant numerical changes" to numbers provided by AK Steel in the original permit application. Consequently, a final permit may not be issued for months. Borough officials, representatives and members of Clean Water Action met last week to discuss how to address this latest "move" of the DEP. The consensus was to continue to apply pressure on how State legislators, increase pressure on AK Steel and solicit the assistance of the USEPA in setting a deadline for DEP to issue a final permit
12/12/00 A public hearing was held by DEP at the Seneca Valley High School Auditorium to receive public comments on the issuance of a discharge permit for AK Steel.
12/1/00 Letters have been received by DEP and there has been media reaction. The following three letters all request immediate action.
10/28/00 Borough residents distribute a fact sheet, prepared by Clean Water Action, to parade spectators at the Annual Halloween Parade in Zelienople. The fact sheet will be distributed to all residents of the Borough by way of direct mail next week (Click here for copy). Residents are urged to write letters to DEP, EPA and your legislators that you want AK Steel's discharges to the Connoquenessing Creek to STOP NOW - not two years from now. This fact sheet also announced a public meeting to be held on Dec. 12, 7:00 PM, at SV High School by DEP.
10/16/00 Public meeting is held. On October 16, 2000, a public meeting was hosted by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe and attended by Sen. Mary Jo White, Steven Beckman, DEP Region Director and a standing room only crowd of 60 residents. Residents expressed their frustration over the failure of the DEP to set limits on AK Steel's nitrate discharge under the prior permit issued in 1995 and the lack of an enforceable limit in the new permit that will ensure safe drinking water for the residents of Zelienople until October 2002. No resolution was reached. Residents are urged to provide written comment to the DEP prior to November 13, 2000. Let DEP know that you want a limit set on AK Steel's nitrate discharge that will ensure water drawn from the Connoquenessing Creek is below the maximum contaminant level for nitrates now, not later. See "Community Calendar" for 11/2/2000 for a meeting hosted by Clean Water Action group to provide information for DEP comments. The DEP address for comments is: DEP - Northwest Regional Office; Regional Manager, Water Management; Attention: PA0006343; 230 Chestnut St.; Meadville, PA 16335.
10/12/00 DEP releases draft permit. The draft Non-Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for AK Steel was published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on October 14, 2000 (click here for a copy) The draft permit does not provide for limits on nitrate discharge that will ensure that water being drawn from the Connoquenessing Creek by the Borough will contain nitrate levels below the maximum contaminant level UNTIL OCTOBER 2002. For two more years, the Borough must continue to put their hope in a rainy spring, summer and fall and that AK Steel will be true to their word to provide an alternative drinking water source to the Borough. The PA Department of Environmental Protection will be accepting public comment of the draft permit until November 13, 2000. DEP has agreed to hold a public hearing on this matter prior to November 13. Please keep checking this site for the date, time and location of this hearing and please attend.
9/22/2000 Nitrate removal process stalled. The PA DEP has denied the Borough's request to return the nitrates removed from the creek, through the nitrate removal system, back to the creek. They cite approval to do so is against the law and their policy. AK Steel continues to dump an average of 33,000 pounds of nitrate compounds into the creek daily --- unregulated by DEP!
Ak Steel seeks the Borough's signature on an agreement for the operation and maintenance of the reverse osmosis system which contains conditions that are unacceptable to our lawyers.
The Borough could use your help in encouraging our legislators to request PA DEP reconsider their denial of the Borough's request for a temporary discharge permit. The nitrate removal system is the only way we can guarantee our residents clean water at the tap if we have to begin pumping from the Connoquenessing Creek.
8/24/2000 Clean Water Action group has a press conference and, with Zelienople area residents, speak out against AK Steel's pollution of the Connoquenessing and DEP's failure to issue a new permit upon the expiration of the prior permit. Click here for their press releases.
8/17/2000 AK Steel's permit for discharging unlimited amounts of nitrates into the Connoquenessing Creek (about 30,000 pounds per day) expires. The State DEP allows the discharge to continue without limitation as a new permit has not yet been issued.
6/26/2000 The Borough of Zelienople mailed the annual Consumer Confidence Report as required by law to all residents. This report covers the period 1/1/1999 - 12/31/1999.
6-8/2000 AK Steel's consultants and engineers meet with Zelienople Borough officials on an interim solution to the pollution problem. They tentatively decide on a "reverse osmosis" process (similar to the process that converts ocean water to fresh water) which will permit creek water to be cleansed of nitrates and pumped into the raw water reservoirs (with the nitrates returned to the creek).
6/9/2000 AK Steel files a petition for review and an emergency motion for a stay in the U.S. Court of Appeals regarding the EPA order. This petition has since been denied by the Court. AK Steel continues to appeal the EPA order.
6/7/2000 At the same press conference that EPA issued its order to AK Steel, the Clean Water Action group provided more information about the Connoquenessing Creek being the "second most polluted body of water in the United States".
6/7/2000 The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issues an emergency order to AK Steel Corp. to provide an alternative water source to Zelienople Borough, PA until they reduce the dangerous levels of nitrates they discharge daily into the Connoquenessing Creek.
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