CARBON COUNTY, Pa. -- Hundreds of people who packed a meeting Thursday night worried about New York City's desire to tap a dam in our area for drinking water, now have to wait. Many expressed concerns about the study looking into this proposal but it could be a while before they get more answers.
The Francis E. Walter dam near White Haven is a flood controller for areas downstream but it also plays a big part in the Lehigh River's tourism industry. Some who attended the meeting say they are being patient as this is a three-year study, but they do have some concerns.
The federally owned dam draws millions of dollars of tourism to our area. It supplies the water for whitewater rafting, fishing, and winter sports on the Lehigh River.
The Delaware River Basin Commission and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection are looking at the dam as a potential resource for drinking water in case of a drought.
With so much local interest in the dam's future, hundreds showed up Thursday night for the first of many public hearings.
"We are deeply concerned with the future of water in Carbon County," said Carbon County Commissioner Wayne Nothstein.
People at the Jack Frost Big Boulder resort are keeping a close eye on the study, because not only is the dam and the resort on the same water table, but a lot of people who ski and snowboard here live along the river.
"It's all new. We're all trying to learn what's going on. I was very impressed there had to be thousands of people there," said Mark Daubert, general manager of Jack Frost Big Boulder.
Daubert was one of those people who attended Thursday's meeting, not only as a homeowner along the river but as the general manager at Jack Frost Big Boulder
"We rely on snowmaking and we need water for snowmaking, so that's our big concern right now. It could be devastating to the ski industry, to our two ski areas, if we cannot, you know, if there are any restrictions put on us down the road for snowmaking," Daubert said.
While others remain hopeful this study will protect local businesses and community interests, others need more convincing.
"I'm glad they're doing studies, but I would like to see what those studies really do show out, and that they really are real studies being done and not some deal behind the scenes that we don't know about," said Lake Harmony resident Debbie Rogerino.
The study still has 33 months to go and more public hearings will follow.