The Pine Creek Valley
Watershed Association, Inc.
P.O. Box 239
Oley, PA 19547


On October 23, 2000, the purchase of the development rights to the Lobachsville Trout Hatchery, a 44- acre tract located in the Pine Creek Watershed, took place. Oley Township, Pine Creek, the Pike Oley District Preservation Coalition (POD/PC), and the Berks County Conservancy now jointly hold a conservation easement on the site, thereby insuring that the property will be preserved in its natural state in perpetuity. The permanent protection of this tract is a fitting end to a five-year long initiative to save this unique property from commercial exploitation by the Wissahickon Water Company of Philadelphia.

As you may remember, Wissahickon had expected to extract 288,000 gallons (!) of water per day from the property for use elsewhere as "luxury" bottled water, with nothing returned to our community. Over a three- year period, Oley Township, Pine Creek and POD/PC (the "Oley Coalition") waged a war on three legal fronts against Wissahickon: in Federal Court to challenge the Delaware River Basin Commission permit granted to Wissahickon, at the Environmental Hearing Board level to challenge the DEP permit, and in a curative amendment proceeding at the township level. The Oley Coalition's persistence and legal strategy paid off. In a precedent-setting decision in which the Coalition was represented by antidegradation specialist, John Wilmer, Esq., the Environmental Hearing Board found in the Coalition's favor, requiring Wissahickon to perform additional costly studies over a period of years before a permit would be considered.

Tired from a long and costly battle with an unrelenting adversary, Wissahickon decided not to renew its lease at the trout hatchery site and withdrew its permit applications.

Never content to rest on its laurels for long, the Oley Coalition then entered into an agreement with the property owners for the purchase of the development rights to the site. Over the course of the next two years, the Coalition raised $200,000 to be applied toward the purchase of the development rights. With the able assistance and support of the Berks County Conservancy, the Oley Coalition received $100,000 from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.The Oley Coalition then matched this grant with funds contributed by Oley Township, Pine Creek, POD/PC, Pike Township, Berks County, the Office of Community and Economic Development (through Representative Dennis Leh), several private foundations and numerous individuals.

The Oley Coalition's efforts to preserve the Trout Hatchery are truly a testament to the force of a community united in its purpose. As Margaret Mead so aptly stated, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

Congratulations to all involved for such a resounding victory for the Oley Coalition and its allies! Together we reach new heights.