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Lobachsville Trout Hatchery
Flowing waters dance
Great blue heron spears fish
Brown tadpoles scatter
Poem and text by Lorah Hopkins
Pike Township was approached for required zoning approval. The township did not allow the proposed business. Wissahickon sought a curative amendment that would have allowed water extraction in 2/3 of Pike Township.
The Pike Oley District Preservation Coalition (POD/PC) was founded and engaged in a grass roots campaign to educate the public and raise funds for legal costs. Pike and Oley Townships, The Pine Creek Valley Watershed Association (PCVWA), Oley Youth League and POD/PC joined forces as the "Oley Coalition."
Over 3 years the Oley Coalition engaged in legal battles opposing Wissahickon and permitting agencies: 1) PA DEP and Wissahickon before the PA Environmental Hearing Board (EHB), 2) DRBC in
Federal court and 3) Curative amendment hearings in Pike Township.
In 2000, aided by a Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) grant, and other fund raising efforts, the Oley Coalition had sufficient funds and was able to acquire a conservation easement to preserve Lobachsville Trout Hatchery lands in perpetuity. In 2003 new owners started the Pine Springs Hatchery.
Pike Township, Pennsylvania
Centuries ago the Lenni Lenapi gathered here. The Lobachsville Trout hatchery operated from the 1950s through 1990. Many local children cast their first lures into these trout laden pools.
Flowing waters feed numerous seeps of high volume which are central to an extensive 65 acre wetland system. The unique geology protects and sustains an extremely productive aquifer. A diversity of flora and fauna, including rare and endangered species, flourishes. Pine Creek, designated an Exceptional Value (EV) stream is part of this system.
Wissahickon Springs Water Company Of Philadelphia identified the 44.49 acre hatchery property as a key source for their commercial drinking water business. In 1995 Wissahickon secured a lease agreement with the landowner, sought and received permits from the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) and in 1996 from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
Wissahickon planned to pump 288,000 galloms of water per day from a new well and transport it in 18 wheeler tank trucks on daily hourly runs to their Kutztown bottling plant.
The EHB decision established the case of Oley Township et al.v.DEP as the precedent that required DEP to rewrite the rules for the issuance of water withdrawal permits. Wissahickon ultimately abandoned its water withdrawal plans, withdrew its permit applications and did not seek to renew the lease of the trout hatchery property.
A storm over the wetland.
In 2004 PCVWA, with a DCNR grant, acquired 30 acres of EV wetlands adjacent to the trout hatchery. This ecologically rich habitat provided crucial scientific justification for protecting the acquifer. Owned in fee by PCVWA, it is protected by a permanent conservation easement held by the Berks Conservancy and Albright College. Albright continues to monitor the wetlands for scientific and educational fieldwork.
Clear water tumbles over rocks.