Penn State is Pennsylvania’s land-grant university. As such, it has a proud history of conducting agricultural research and reaching out to the commonwealth’s farmers and consumers.
Toll Brothers wants to purchase Penn State land that lies in the Harter-Thomas wellfield for a luxury student housing development. Developing that land would negatively impact the security of State College’s most valuable resource — water. Considering its land-grant mission, I urge Penn State not to sell the Harter-Thomas wellfield land.
The proposed Toll Brothers development will have a retention pond designed to collect runoff from the parking lots and roads associated the with the development — runoff that will inevitably include motor oil, gasoline and other contaminants. Unfortunately, a karst aquifer composed of soluble limestone underlies the land designated for the retention pond. Underground cracks and fissures caused by dissolution of the limestone will provide a rapid pathway to the Harter and Thomas wells that lie downhill.
More than half of State College’s water comes from these two wells. We have no big springs, no lakes and no rivers from which to draw our drinking water. State College must rely on groundwater from wells for the water needs of its residents and businesses. Protecting the groundwater that feeds the Harter and Thomas wells is critical. I urge Penn State not to sell Harter-Thomas watershed land to Toll Brothers for development as luxury student housing.
Barb Pennypacker, State College