Valley Creek, which flows through Valley Forge National Historical Park in Tredyffrin Township, PA, is designated as an “Exceptional Value” stream by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and a “Class A wild trout stream” by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission – the highest water quality classifications the state of Pennsylvania can bestow. By 2014, however, Tredyffrin Township’s aging sewage pipeline had begun to repeatedly fail, discharging over 20 million gallons of raw sewage into the national park and Valley Creek’s pristine waters during three rupture events.
The local chapter of Trout Unlimited, led by a fisherman with 40 years’ experience in Valley Creek’s waters, teamed up with PennEnvironment to fix the problem. NELC served a Notice of Intent to Sue on behalf of both groups, giving Tredeffryn and state authorities a 60-day window to address the violations before filing suit. On day 56, DEP took action: requiring the Township to replace its main sewer pipeline, develop an emergency response plan in the case of future pipe ruptures, and pay a $110,500 penalty, $38,000 of which was devoted to restoring severely eroded Valley Creek stream banks. Our impending citizen suit clearly compelled state regulators and local officials to protect the precious natural and historical resources they were entrusted with.