Aging sewer line to be replaced in Crum Woods

For the past month, construction workers have been working in the Crum Woods to replace an aging concrete sewer line in order to accommodate its use by three additional townships. Unfortunately, this has required notable destruction to the Crum landscape.

Many trees have already been bulldozed by the contractor hired by the Central Delaware County Authority, despite protestation by the Crum Woods Stewardship Committee.
“What we worry about is . . . the interior forest, kind of the center of the woods, that is really important for habitat,” Stu Hain, Vice President for Facilities and Services, said.

Many trees – some almost 80-years-old – in a 25-foot-wide strip of land running along Crum Creek have already been bulldozed by a contractor hired by the Central Delaware County Authority (CDCA), an agency that assists in the installation and operation of water and sewer services.

“In order to do the work that needs to be done, the trees really have to go. It’s sad, but there really isn’t a choice,” Hain said.

In 1938, the college granted a right-of-way to the CDCA for the construction of a sewer line. Since then, trees have grown on top of the strip of land, some of which have already been removed in order to replace the line.

Hain maintains that the college is working hard to ensure that minimal damages will be made to the Crum’s landscape.

“We have limited say in what they can do in their right-of-way,” Hain said, “[but] we can ask them to restore it in a certain way. We’ve asked them to provide us some replacement trees . . . we’ve asked them to do some stream bank restoration.”

Silk fences to control erosion have been installed on the edges of Crum Creek in order to keep mud from washing into the stream when it rains. The CDCA has also given the college the means to plant trees along the sides of the right-of-way once construction is complete, though no trees will be allowed to grow on top of the line again.

The college has also requested that the CDCA plant a blend of natural grasses instead of turf on the restored land and also find a way to control the invasive species that will unavoidably explode onto the land once restoration is complete.

When the Crum Woods Stewardship Committee, group that is devoted to recommending policies on the uses of the Crum to the community, heard about the project last month, most members were upset by this news.

“Pretty much the whole committee went up in arms over what was happening,” Sarah Scheub ’12, a member of the committee, said. “Everyone was really upset [and] wanted … to know if this was the best plan possible for dealing with the need to replace the sewer line.”

Scheub has worked with Biology Professor Jose-Luis Machado in an ecology course, collecting data and doing research on trees and floodplains that have already been demolished. Some of this research has been going on since 2002.

“Biologically and in terms of the ecosystem, what’s happening is really horrible,” she said.

However, Scheub and other members of the committee have come to terms with the inevitability of it all, and have also been requesting money and the means to ensure that the land will be restored properly.

“Work has obviously been started and there’s nothing that we can do,” Scheub said. “At this point, we’re just trying to work with them as best as we can.”

Construction at the site is expected to be complete sometime during the Fall 2011 semester.

“Positive things will come out of it,” Scheub said, “but will these positives outweigh the negatives, I don’t know.”

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