Friday, February 24, 2017

LEHIGH COUNTY AUTHORITY- TIME TO TAKE ACTION NOW

Since last spring I have been the lonely boy crying wolf when it comes to the drought drying up the main stem of the Little Lehigh Creek. This past November, the Little Lehigh Creek did indeed dry up in its main stem through Lower Macungie Township. Lets take a step back on why this happened:

1. In 2008 when I served on the LMT Planning Commision board, I fought hard to warn the Commissioners and residents about how not placing monitoring wells along the Little Lehigh Creek when LCA was  requesting conditional use approval to take more water out of  Wells 8 and 12 would someday cause the Little Lehigh Creek to dry up the stream. I had Aurel Ardnt and LCA engineers say this would not definitely not happen. Guess what--it happened. Who has the degree in hydrology and physical geography and who does not?

2. In 2016, I warned LCA again that this was going to happen along with the Delaware River Basin Commission and PADEP in writing. Again, I was ignored until the stream went dry in November.

3. Lastly, in January I told LCA that unless we miraculously  receive 6-8 inches of rain over a three week period or a 20+ inch snow storm with a three inch rain to follow, we are in deep sh*&. I went to their public meeting and presented the facts. They told me they would have another engineer study conducted to look into the situation. How many engineers does it take to screw in a light bulb or in this case watch the Little Lehigh go dry in April?

4. I am writing this post on the warmest day ever recorded in February  77+ degrees.  in the Lehigh Valley. We have had two days of 70 degree weather with no rain. The forest litter is dry as hell. I am kicking up dust instead of topsoil. The monitoring well in Breinigsville is falling like a two ton boulder. It is at the same level as it was in September 2016. The Little Lehigh Creek in my backyard is shrinking in width by the day.  And what does LCA doing? Reporting on plastics in our waterways. Give me a break. This is a huge deal. Never in the history of  LCA have we had as low as watertable in February as we do now.

5. I come to the conclusion that LCA is not going to be proactive in this drought and start warning industrial users to cut back in a public press release. Nor do I see LCA turning off wellhead 8 to retain the low base flow in the Little Lehigh Creek.  In November thousands of fish died or were forced further downstream into Allentown.. The Little Lehigh Creek is ruined in sections of the Township for fishing and the Township Commissioners are not publicly stating their concern to LCA. No where to I see a public outcry? This saddens me deeply. If this been a pollution discharge into the stream, the public outcry would be tremendous. Who defends the fish and aquatic life? Sure the hell not LCA.

I hope you can pass this post onto others because in the next few months, its going to get a lot worse. When the stream disappears again, at least you were warned.  I am  tired of fighting this battle alone and hitting brick walls at LCA public meetings. It would be nice to see the LCA board meeting filled up and overflowing with LMT residents and trout fishermen telling them to stop pumping wellhead 8 until we get normal precip again. One person is just not enough to convince them. I wish as many residents in Sheppard Hills would come and support the Little Lehigh Creek as much as they support a golf course. This stream helps keep your property values high too.




Wednesday, February 15, 2017

" THE DROUGHT WARNING SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN LIFTED BY PADEP"

I must criticize PADEP and their PA Drought Commission. Its time they wake up to reality. I hope my readers complain to them.  Here is my brief synopsis on why you should complain with factual data provided below:

1. Last April. I observed the weather patterns going into a stubborn La Nina pattern. As in 2002 and as in the late 1960's, this pattern can present drought conditions for eastern PA. I warned my blog readers and even sent letters to PADEP indicating my concern on why we should be in in a drought emergency back in early July. They were basically ignored. I presented my credentials but that still was not good enough for them.

2. In August PADEP was hoping for Hurricane Matthew to dump significant rains- to no avail. Again they waited several months before issuing a drought warning which in hindsight should have been a drought emergency. Again, I warned both the LCA and PADEP  the Little Lehigh Creek will be going dry in the upper reaches. Both PADEP and LCA ignored these warnings.

3. The Little Lehigh Creek did go dry in several reachers of the creek. in November. LCA finally got the message but PADEP did not. Still no drought emergency was issued while hundreds if not thousands of fish and other aquatic species died and were seen in the dry creek bed. LCA Wellhead 8 continues to withdraw water and create a significant draw down as was observed in the frozen creek bed of the Little Lehigh Creek, the first time observed completely frozen over in December from the low base flows of the creek.

4. Information was presented to the LCA Board in January of the continual low groundwater tables from the USGS monitoring well in Fogelsville, even after a two inch rain in late December which brought back the base flow in the creek.

5. The LMT EAC board has been aware of this situation since last April when I brought to their attention my concern for a significant drought in our area.

6. It is now one year later, and my concerns are even more worrisome. I have presented below a graph from the USGS data from the Fogelsville monitoring well. Please review the yearly data. Currently the groundwater table is as low as it was back in August of last year. There is literally no snow on the ground with no significant rains predicted in the next two weeks. The temps will be in the 60's by this weekend which will start to dry out what remaining moisture is the forest leaf litter and topsoil in the ground.. Early budding and leaf out of the trees is expected which will pull more moisture out of the ground. What does this mean?

7. What this means is the fire watches, red flag warnings will start to be issued, maybe even starting this weekend.  The Palmer Index will start to indicate extremely dry soil conditions which will exacerbate planting schedules for the farmers. The groundwater table will start to fall rapidly and we will be in a drought emergency condition

8. My only hope is that we get significant rains in March and when I say significant rains- I mean two 4-6 inch rainfall events back to back or a 20 inch snowfall, both which are rare in March. If you look at the graph below we are tens of feet below normal in the groundwater elevation. It will take a lot of rain over a long period of time to recover. One month of normal rainfall will not do the trick. PADEP fails to recognize this situation. January rainfall was not uniform where certain areas of the Lehigh Valley received much more rainfall then others. It seems the airport gets most of the rain lately when does fall.




Sunday, February 12, 2017

THIS STUBBORN WEATHER PATTERN WILL NOT BREAK- WE ARE IN TROUBLE.

The wishful thinking of another major snowstorm this week is gone. We are running out of time for winter. In my humble opinion, winter is over. Snow lovers, we need to really pray hard if you want to see a major snowstorm in our area in the next few weeks.

The worst of this nasty weather pattern is the continued drought situation. Sure the six inch snow helped but realistically it was just a band-aid on a bleeding arterial wound. The municipalities and LCA better hope for a weather pattern change or we will be going into spring with another major deficit in rainfall and groundwater recharge for our wells. Personally, if I was the PA Fish Commission, I would not stock the Little Lehigh Creek this year until we receive decent rains in March.

The rains we have received including today have been pitiful. Whats even worse is that we were only 200 miles away from 70 degree weather. The evapotranspiration rates will go through the roof in March and April in this current dry weather pattern which will help dry up the Little Lehigh Creek again. The trees will start to leaf out early in March instead of late April and will help suck out more water from the ground. We have basically no ground water recharge for our aquifers for the Spring, the second year in a row. This is not good.

I hope the weather pattern changes soon but as long as the Gulf of Mexico is shut down for storm origination and the storms race across the country from California, the Mid Atlantic region will suffer. Keep an eye on California Oroville Dam situation- it could fail in the next few days- their drought is over.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

AS LITTLE BIT OF DROUGHT RELIEF COMING OUR WAY

If you look at the west coast radar tonight, they are getting slammed with another Pacific pineapple storm. This storm unlike many of the others so far this season will actually be a rainmaker for us come Sun- Tues. We have a 50 percent chance of seeing portions of Spring Creek Rd under water on Tuesday.  One to three inches of rain is a good bet for Eastern PA and flood watches should be issued on Sunday. Do not be surprised to see a thunderstorm as well- a rarity in January

I have not said much about winter weather because in the last week or so it has virtually been non-existent. We have had only couple of inches of snow this year but that is about to change around Ground Hog Day. Finally some of the ocean moisture will meet with the cold air to form some coastal storms chances for our area. I am crossing my fingers this time.

Even though we may have two or more inches of rain next week, this is not an end to the current drought. We need 5-8 inches of rain over a long period of time or 20 inches of snowpack on the ground for 3 weeks. I see neither happening this winter.  Its hard to believe but even if we get two inches of rain, we will still only be normal for January precipitation. The quarter inch or less slop for each storm event that we have had since mid December has done little to recharge the base flow of the Little Lehigh Creek and groundwater conditions in our watershed. We need a significant weather pattern change and that will not happen until early to mid February at the earliest.

Protect your bulbs as they will start to pop in the next week or so with the 50 degree weather. It will get cold again and I hope it does not damage them.