DEP: No Permit Required For Dimock Water Delivery

By By Dave Greber

March 14, 2012 Updated Mar 14, 2012 at 8:17 PM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) The daily delivery of water from Montrose Borough to Dimock Township by a Susquehanna County man does not require a state hauling permit.

That's according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, which launched an investigation Wednesday into the actions of Craig Stevens.

Stevens, who lives in Silver Lake Twp., has been delivering water for several weeks to residents living along Dimock's Carter Road.

Those residents have claimed for months their water was polluted by natural gas drilling.

Although Stevens is not from Montrose, he owns and pays for water from a hydrant, which is located along Jessup Street in the borough.

At issue with the DEP was whether Stevens was delivering water to more than 25 people, which requires a state permit.

A spokeswoman from the DEP said the investigation was launched after the office received a call from "a concerned resident." She declined to provide the resident's name.

After three hours, though, the investigation was complete. It was determined Stevens, who delivers water to four or five families each week, was within his legal rights.

"Today, we were made aware of the fact that Mr. Stevens was hauling water to residents in Dimock, and that he had been doing so for a month or so," said Colleen Connolly, of the DEP. "So we did our investigation and he did start doing it within the past few weeks. And we determined that he doesn't fall under our regulations."

Action News uncovered the tension the water deliveries caused among the Montrose Borough council.

The investigation found members of the borough council were not only concerned about the hydrant, but also resorted to name-calling and enacting regulations for its meetings that were later determined overly restrictive.

The conversation among five members of council, as well as its solicitor, Marion O'Malley, which took place Feb. 6-7, includes colorful language.

In one exchange, Councilman Sean Granahan refers to Stevens and others as "thugs" and "lake poachers."

In a Feb. 7 response to Councilwoman Julanne Skinner, Granahan writes: "I cannot speak for the rest, but I for one did not anticipate the Dimock thuggery from last night."

He said Dimock residents are "looking to pirate our water and pocket the proceeds from their royalties and settlements."

At one point, Skinner cautions Granahan on his use of language.

"Might I suggest that we not refer to fellow citizens in such a condescending manner? It will not bode well if emails should ever be subpeoenaed (sic)."

Council members have declined repeated requests for comment.

Although he's been vindicated, Stevens said late Wednesday he feels targeted; not by the DEP, but by members of the borough council and Montrose residents.

"Why are they picking on us for," Stevens asked. "were doing this for free. We're trying to help our neighbors out, don't care where they are, and all of the sudden, the focus is on us? How about the focus being on more contamination issues.

"It seems like I'm being singled out," he added. We're not talking about any of the other things in the (action News investigation), like the council's behavior or the emails. We're talking about the water delivery, so I feel like I'm being singled out."