Enviros threaten to sue over sewage spills in Valley Forge trout stream

     Valley Creek is a prized trout stream that feeds into the Schuylkill River and runs through Valley Force National Historical Park. (Katie Colaneri/for NewsWorks)

    Valley Creek is a prized trout stream that feeds into the Schuylkill River and runs through Valley Force National Historical Park. (Katie Colaneri/for NewsWorks)

    Two environmental groups are threatening to sue a Chester County township over multiple sewer line breaks near Valley Forge National Historical Park that polluted a prized trout stream.

    A major rupture in March shut down the park for nearly two days. Between four and five million gallons of raw sewage flowed into Valley Creek when Tredyffrin Township officials shut down a nearby pump station to make repairs. The same sewer line has broken two other times since 2012.

    PennFuture and Trout Unlimited say the township and its municipal authority violated the federal Clean Water Act during these three incidents. An attorney representing the groups sent a letter to Tredyffrin officials this week to give the required 60-day notice before filing suit in federal court.

    Valley Creek is an “exceptional value” wild trout stream that feeds into the Schuylkill River. There is no evidence the spills caused significant environmental damage or killed any fish, said Owen Owns with the Valley Forge chapter of Trout Unlimited.

    Owens, who fishes for trout in the creek, said Tredyffrin and the other townships that share the sewer line have known about its potential to leak for decades.

    “We don’t want people downstream like in Philadelphia or Norristown drinking water contaminated with it,” he said. “It’s time for the township to do what their accountability is and work out a really good plan.”

    In a statement, township manager Bill Martin said he was disappointed and confused by the letter “as both complainants are aware of the substantial progress the Township has made since the breaks occurred.”

    In March, Tredyffrin hired an engineering firm to come up with solutions to the problem and has created a draft plan for emergencies. Martin told NewsWorks/WHYY in April that replacing the sewer line could cost millions of dollars.

    PennFuture and Trout Unlimited are planning to meet with Tredyffrin officials in two weeks and representatives for both groups say they hope to come to an agreement without going to court.

    “We want to see interim emergency plan that is acceptable and efficient and solves these problems without having to redirect raw sewage directly into Valley Creek when another break takes place,” said attorney Heather Govern.

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