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Smithton objects to water withdrawal

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Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, 1:52 p.m.

Smithton Borough Council voted unanimously Monday to draft a letter objecting to any permitting of water removal from the Youghiogheny River or artesian wells at the former Jones Brewery and send it to the Department of Environmental Protection.

The move was prompted by a notification letter the borough received from Tetra Tech on behalf of Chevron Appalachia, outlining the company's application for a permit to withdraw up to one million gallons of water per day from the former site of the Jones Brewery in Smithton.

Council President Dan Barthels said it takes anywhere from one to four-and-a-half million gallons to frack a gas well, and that translates into 250 to 1,000 trucks per day hauling water.

If the permit is approved, the borough would feel the effects. “It's going to affect everybody in Smithton,” he said. “You can send letters to DEP. It's better than doing nothing. You've got to try,” he said.

Mayor Christine Tutena noted that all the infrastructure under the state roadway is the responsibility of the borough, not the state.

The fact that the brewery property is on a state road that connects to state roads in and out of town is what prevented council from using ordinances to deter interest in the property by entities connected with the Marcellus shale gas industry.

Council urged all concerned residents to send letters to DEP or Rep. Ted Harhai.

In other business, council approved the hiring of Bryan Bobnar as a part-time police officer. During the associated report by police Chief Glenn Kopp, he reminded residents that the police issue parking citations and warnings, not the borough. So complaints should be directed to the police department and not the borough secretary.

Council also approved the purchase of snow tires for the police department's Charger.

The public was also reminded by streets supervisor Bud Seglowich to please remove parked vehicles from the street when snow plowing is taking place.

Barthels read a letter of interest from Mary Ulish for the open seat on the Municipal Authority Board. A subsequent motion to reappoint Charles Lori to the seat failed, 2-4, with Fred Foster and Carl Cathers the only yes votes. Council members dissenting said they wanted clarification from the authority on eligibility requirements for board members before considering Ulish's letter one way or another. Councilman Robert Prah was absent.

Tutena announced that the annual Smithton Cleanup Day will be April 20, Earth Day.

William S. Zirkle is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 724-872-6800.

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