Overflow Crowd Questions Chevron about Proposed Water Withdrawal

Approximately 50 people filled the West Newton VFW last night after the regular venue for West Newton Borough Council meeting exceeded capacity, unable to accommodate the overflow crowd. Chevron representatives in attendance discussed specifics regarding the right-of-way proposal presented to the borough council including the following:

  • A 416-foot right-of-way is proposed on borough property
  • The entire pipeline would span approximately 3 miles and would support Chevron’s future development area in Sewickley Township
  • Chevron must apply for a Water Management Plan with PADEP with the department then regulating the specifics of the withdrawal
  • Chevron would reference USGS gauges to ensure they do not exceed maximum withdrawal
  • Construction is planned to start in mid-2018
  • Chevron has a permitted withdrawal – Sutersville #5 – authorized to extract 1.5 million gallons of water per day from the Yough upstream of West Newton.
  • Chevron pledged to withdraw their Sutersville permit if they are allowed to pursue this proposal.

Public comment was restricted to borough residents only, but those that did speak were sharply opposed to an additional water withdrawal from the Yough. Citizens raised concerns regarding low flow levels during summer months, noise pollution resulting from water pumps that could affect both the youth and elderly populations, and the lack of incentive for the borough to enter into an agree with Chevron.
According to Chevron’s original proposal, West Newton would receive a $500 up-front signing fee, as well as $20 per linear foot of pipeline constructed, equaling $8,320. Many residents felt this was a slap in the face, and several referenced the high cost private citizens pay for water as opposed to Chevron accessing millions of gallons of water for free under this proposal.

West Newton’s solicitor stated that the next step is for him, on behalf of the borough, to enter into negotiations with Chevron regarding the terms of the agreement. No timeline was set for this process. Council also stated that no additional meetings regarding the proposed withdrawal are scheduled at this time.

We will be posting updates here as more details become available. Stay tuned.