The Jefferson/Codorus Sewer System
A new public sewer system serving Jefferson Borough and parts of Codorus Township was recently completed, and the sewage treatment plant discharges into a tiny tributary in the upper Codorus watershed.
With this plant in operation, it is up to each of us to keep an eye on the area and to document and report any potential problems promptly. If you see any potential pollution issues, your course of action should be to: 1) take photographs – as many as needed to fully illustrate the problem and; 2) call 911 or the DEP’s emergency number, 877-333-1904. It would also be helpful to e-mail us, in case we can assist with the situation in any way. Please carry a camera or camera phone and the aforementioned phone number with you on each trip to the stream. The project site can easily be seen from Kraft Mill Road. Downstream, the tiny unnamed tributary carrying the runoff, and eventually the plant’s discharge, meets the west branch along Park Road. The west branch meets the mainstem at the coldwater discharge from Lake Marburg, where the trout fishery begins. That junction is currently on private property. Please become familiar with these vantage points, and drive by on each trip to the stream.
The plant is permiited by DEP to discharge 272,000 gallons per day. The discharge is not a constant flow – that is, it is be released in batches due to the design and operation of the plant. Because of the trout fishery additional stages of treatment, such as ultraviolet disinfection, have been built into the plant to improve the quality of the discharge. The discharge should actually be very clean, and has been described as ‘one step away from drinking water’. Furthermore, the operator is required to submit a monthly report documenting the plant’s operation, and that report is available to the public.
One huge downside to the plant’s design is that it does not include adequate backup or redundancy in the event of a mechanical failure. The plant has two identical modules, and one treats a batch of sewage while the other collects the next batch. They alternate back and forth so one is always collecting while the other is treating. If one module fails, the other fills up and must discharge to the stream before fully treating the effluent. In 2009, such an incident occurred at the plant in neighboring North Codorus Township. A motor on an air valve failed and the plant went into single batch mode. The result was a discolored and foul smelling discharge into the receiving stream. Ideally, the plant would contain three modules so two functional ones were always available.
Over the long term, another very significant threat looms. Several hundred homes, adjacent to the plant and elsewhere in the borough and township, are planned in the future. Runoff from this development, if not controlled properly, will create an even larger threat of runoff and erosion. That runoff could contain road salt, automotive fluids, lawn care products and other pollutants. Also, hot runoff from roofs, streets, driveways and other impervious surfaces could harm the stream.
Right from the beginning, we have always considered these development plans to be ill-conceived. We began our involvement several years ago when the township’s Act 537 sewer plan was updated. We expressed our concerns during a public comment period, but received no response. Perhaps the most frustrating point is that a very viable alternative exists but was never given any serious consideration - discharging the plant into the nearby South Branch Codorus watershed, a stream that is already highly impaired and where very little aquatic life exists, and certainly no wild trout population. Ironically, a new, functioning sewer plant already existed in the south branch watershed, and it could’ve certainly been expanded to meet the future needs of the area. Instead the west branch was chosen due concerns of development pressure that could result from bringing sewer capacity to the south branch. While understandable, it seems like the regulations of a state agency (DEP) to protect high quality streams would’ve trumped the preferences of a small group of local residents. Overall, we were less than impressed by DEP's lackluster efforts throughout this process.
While the effects of all of this development will probably not be immediately evident, the long term effects at the bottom of the food chain, and eventually the trout population is impossible to forecast and to prove. It’s worth noting that there are sewage treatment plants around trout streams all over Pennsylvania, and in some cases they’ve even improved streams by adding helpful nutrients.
While we weren’t able to influence the choice to build the plant, we can still keep an eye on its operation. This will require the diligence of each and every one of us. Please do your part and while you’re at it, keep your fingers crossed…
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Poor Behavior Resulting In Loss Of Stream Access
All too often the moronic actions of 1% of a group results in everyone suffering the consequences. In 2009, we lost a considerable section of stream in the Trophy Trout section to posting. In our opinion the landowner was fully justified in taking the action he did. He had several run-ins with some idiots who confronted him with no respect or courtesy whatsoever. They completely disregarded the fact they were on private property and felt they could do whatever they felt like doing. Such behavior has resulted in the loss of access in the past as well.
This is not an easy situation to correct. If you are a TU member, or took the time to visit a TU chapter web site, it's highly unlikely that you fall into this category. What we can do, however is to help demonstrate that there are far more good sportsmen than brainless losers. If you see litter, pick it up. If you meet a landowner, thank them for allowing access and let them know how important the stream is to you. If they mention a problem they're having, tell them you'll inform our TU chapter, and then do so. And of course there's the obvious choices to park wisely (i.e don't block access to fields), stay out of crops, etc. Finally, if you see an offense that justifies it, don't hesitate to use you cell phone to contact the authorities. It will probably help if you can get the offender's license plate and make/model of their car - just be sure to not take risks and put yourself in harm’s way while doing so.
Some of these measures may seem like minor ones but collectively, they all add up to earn us the RIGHT and the PRIVILEGE of fishing the Codorus. Thanks.
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