Large sewage spill mars a trout stream in Valley Forge National Historic Park

A sewer main broke and created this runoff in Valley Forge National Historic Park. The pipe is owned by the Tredyffrin Township Municipal Authority.
A sewer main broke and created this runoff in Valley Forge National Historic Park. The pipe is owned by the Tredyffrin Township Municipal Authority. (CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer)
Posted: March 20, 2014

A large, aged sewer pipe going through Valley Forge National Historic Park broke Tuesday, spilling raw sewage into Valley Creek, a state-designated "exceptional value" stream and trout-fishing mecca, at the rate of 5,000 gallons a minute.

Valley Creek drains into the Schuylkill, and Philadelphia Water Department officials were on alert, in case they had to shut down the Belmont or Queen Lane drinking-water intakes.

Joanne Dahme, a spokeswoman for the department, said upstream utilities would see any impact first and would share that information.

The sewer main is a 30-inch pipe owned by the Tredyffrin Township Municipal Authority, and the break was in the vicinity of a similar pipe rupture in February.

Tredyffrin Township officials were not immediately available for comment, but an item on the township's website said that the break was in the vicinity of Routes 252 and 23 in the park.

All roads in the park have been closed, according to the National Park Service.

The break was reported to the state Department of Environmental Protection at 10:45 a.m., according to spokeswoman Deborah Fries.

Valley Creek also is a "Class A Wild Trout Fishery," a state Fish and Boat Commission designation.

No fish were killed, said the commission's regional wildlife conservation officer, Robert Bonney. He suspected that was largely because the water in the creek is so cold, which means it holds more oxygen than in summer-warmed water.

Bacteria in sewage eat oxygen, and fish can suffocate.

But Bonney said he did not know what the effect would be on the aquatic insects in the stream, or its brown trout, which are hatching now.


sbauers@phillynews.com

215-854-5147 @sbauers

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