Citizens groups in Lower Macungie are asking the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection to deny a Wal-Mart developer a “national pollution discharge elimination system (NPDES), a stormwater permit application. Residents opposed the construction of a 203,000 s.f. Wal-Mart supercenter with 8 acres of asphalt parking lot. As many as six separate groups are involved in the effort, including the Sierra Club and the No-Mart Coalition. Opponents say the superstore will degrade the Little Lehigh Creek as a result of stormwater runoff from the huge project. Paving over the site will alter the natural drainage area. The developer, JDN, wants to shunt stormwater around the outside of the parking lot and discharge it towards a swale on property used for a Middle School. JDN has proposed 3 detention ponds, one up to 30 ft. deep. Residents say the stormwater runoff will cause more sedimentation and pollution to a stream that is classified as a high quality watershed. If the Little Lehigh is degraded, it would impact most of the water customers of Allentown water. A Salisbury Township County Commissioner, Jan Keim, spoke out against the JDN plan. “A degraded water supply harms every resident of Lehigh County,” Keim told the East Penn Press. The No-Mart Coalition criticized local officials in Lower Macungie Township as saying they were “powerless” to stop the Wal-Mart. Ann Marie Crown of the No-Mart Coalition accused Township Supervisors of passing the buck, and said the school district and the Pennsylvania Dept. of Transportation also dodged their resonsibilities. “The Department of Environmental Protection is our last bastion of defense,” Crown said. “Let the buck stop right here.” If the DEP issues the stormwater permit, it can be appealed. Meanwhile, the Little Lehigh Watershed Coalition has asked the federal U.S. EPA to withdraw approval power for the NPDES from the state of Pennsylvania, charging that the state has failed to adequately implement the program.
For further details on the No-Mart Coalition’s battle against Wal-Mart, contact Helen Chisholm, 5926 Club Nouse Lane, Wescosville, PA 18106.