Protect the watershed to save Beltzville
To the Editor:
There has been a great deal of discussion lately about the deteriorating conditions at Beltzville Lake, with some blaming the bad behavior of park visitors for the high bacterial counts and water pollution at the lake.
While overcrowding and unsanitary trash are certainly contributing factors, they are not the whole story when it comes to the impairment of water quality at the lake.
Beltzville Lake is fed by creeks and streams that originate in the forested watershed in the uplands surrounding the lake. For several years now, this protected watershed has been open to timber harvesting which, even when done with the utmost care, causes soil erosion and sedimentation in the creeks and streams that empty into Beltzville Lake. Sedimentation is the most damaging and widespread water pollutant from forested watersheds.
In addition to timber harvesting, the watershed could soon be open to industrial energy development in the form of the massive PennEast NG pipeline, which will cut a 4-mile swath of compacted soil through the watershed, and the proposed construction of up to 37 industrial wind generators on watershed property.
These two projects combined will deforest more than 300 acres of watershed land, causing even more erosion and sedimentation in the creeks and streams that empty into Beltzville Lake.
Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources announced a plan to study the issues related to the conditions at Beltzville Lake. Unless it addresses the impacts to the lake of deforestation and industrial development in the watershed, any such study will be ineffective. To protect the water quality in Beltzville Lake, protect the watershed.