John Mack - Newtown Supervisor

Public Health Issues

Bad WaterAs someone with degrees in chemistry and biochemistry, I am concerned about chemicals in our environment whether it be contaminants in our water and air or illegal drugs. 

According to an article published in the July 16, 2017 issue of the Bucks County Courier Times, "over the past several years, more that 16 public and 200 private wells...were found to be contaminated with high levels of PFOS and PFOA, which come from fire-fighting foams. The problem is national in scope... The contamination has reached drinking water supplies in states as diverse as New Jersey, New Hampshire, Colorado, and Washington."

The current opioid epidemic is a major public health problem that I have written about frequently in my blog and elsewhere. You can find news updates on this crisis here.

Excerpts of Board of Supervisors Meeting Minutes

Details of important Public Health related Newtown Board of Supervisors' decisions and discussions in last few years (in reverse chronological order). This is NOT a complete list of items. You can find complete minutes of BOS meetings here.

Detail BOS Meeting Date Excerpts from Minutes
Water Quality 14-Feb-2018

Mr. Mack referred to a news item that cyanide had been poured down a storm drain. He spoke to Dan Angrove, Assistant General Manager of Newtown Artesian Water Company, and was assured there was never a threat to the water supply. Other municipalities also performed testing and no toxicity was found. If there is an emergency, the water company would put a reverse 911 system into effect to notify people or would have door hangers placed. [Read: Read "Newtown Artesian Water Company's Response to Cyanide Dumping Issue"]

NAS Narcan Use 24-Jan-2018

Evan Resnikoff, Chief of Newtown Ambulance Squad, informed the Supervisors that the State has approved a “leave behind Narcan” program to allow EMS to leave nasal dose Narcan to families at risk. Through a Federal grant, the County will be receiving boxes of Narcan. Once available, Newtown Ambulance will be able to provide the Narcan and instructions of use.

Newtown Ambulance Squad 13-Dec-2017

Evan Ressikoff, Chief of Newtown Ambulance Squad, made a presentation in support of the 1% millage for the Fire Hydrant Millage Tax/Ambulance Fund. A 1% mil tax is equal to $18.00 per year per household. There is a two-fold benefit for the millage tax: $120,000 would stay in the Capital Fund budget, and a millage tax would give EMS steady, predictable funds. [These numbers may not be accurate. For more on that, read: "Newtown Ambulance Squad Seeks Additional Funding"]

Water Quality 11-Oct-2017

Newtown Artesian Water Company Presentation. Upon the request of the Board of Supervisors, Mr. Dan Angove, Assistant General Manager of Newtown Artesian Water Company, reported on the quality of water and concerns of carcinogens based on a recent published newspaper article. The Company provides safe, reliable drinking water while maintaining cost efficient service to all of Newtown Township, Borough and part of Middletown Township. Out of the Company's 10 employees, 6 are State licensed operators. The Company is regulated by the PUC and governed by the DEP. Some of the hot topics of water are lead, copper, total chromium, PFCs and carcinogens. The Company exceeds all regulations. The newspaper article was authored by a California resident who was working for a company selling water filters. [NOTE: The was written by Kyle Bagenstose, a Bucks County Courier Times Staff Writer. Perhaps Angove was referring to, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit organization that actually did the study and was referenced in the article. For more on that read "Newtown Artesian Water Company Defends Quality of Its Water"] The article was based on a study of health gUidelines whereas the Company follows State and Federal guidelines for acceptable levels. If there was a problem with the water, the Company would notify their 38,000 consumers via reverse 911 call or door hangers. There are four storage tanks around the system for emergency and fire protection. With the DEP, there is a source water protection for the rivers and wells all through Newtown. The sources of water for Newtown is from Bucks County Water (60%) and Pennsylvania American Water, and both attain their water from the Delaware River. The water is blended with 5 wells in-house for the remaining 40%.

The basis of residents' concerns is the situation at the Willow Grove Naval Air Station. Mr. Angove believed there is no particular danger from that contamination to the Company's water and added that the Company proactively performs precautionary tests throughout the year. Over 40 tests are performed on a monthly basis and other tests, i.e. for carcinogens, are performed each quarter. Mr. Angove wasn't able to offer any information on how fracking could affect the water supply in the area. All consumer confidence reports, with sample results, can be found at the Company's website, www.newtownwater.com. and includes contact information for more information.

NAS Annual Report 11-Oct-2017

Mr. Resnikoff was asked to report on the opioid epidemic in the area. The response to opioid calls is up 57.6% in the first 8 months of the year compared to the same period the previous year (20 calls); there is a cost on the health care system including EMS because greater than 80% of these patients are uninsured and it is unlikely that a fee of service would be collected even though the same patient could receive help multiple times. Ms. Resnikoff urged the Township to consider returning to the EMS millage (see "Newtown Ambulance Squad Seeks Additional Funding"). The benefits would be a return of the LST funding into the Township budget that the State allows, and losing paramedics to higher paying opportunities. Currently, squad members are paid well below the market rate for Bucks County.

Opioid Crisis 11-Oct-2017

Regarding the County's drug take back program, Mr. Calabro asked if there was a way to have a secure lockbox at the station so that drugs could be dropped off at any time. Chief Pasqualini noted that there are four drug take back events each year, and a drop box is available at the station during business hours, Monday-Fridays. Arrangements can also be made to have an officer open the station for the drugs to be dropped off. Call the Police Department to schedule. If there was a need for 24x7 availability, then it would be worth the expense and effort to make it work, but as of right now, there are other stations where drugs could be dropped off, including Bensalem Township which has a 24x7 manned station. Read "Newtown Has a 24/7 Drug Drop Box - Sort Of".

Water Quality 9-Aug-2017

Mr. Calabro recalled some media attention regarding water quality around the country and one of the articles was mentioned several times in Pennsylvania. These articles have mentioned seven carcinogens. Mr. Calabro suggested that since Newtown Artesian had presented reports at previous Board meetings, that another might be held for public awareness and to let residents know the water is alright. Mr. Davis asked Mr. Ferguson if he would follow up inviting Newtown Artesian at the next meeting.

KVK Tech 28-Jun-2017

Resident John Mack from County Bend thanked KVK Tech for the fireworks and commented that the company makes oxycodone and oxymorphine. He believes the company should not be granted variances and should take some responsibility for making drugs that create addictive use. Mr. Gallagher stated the Zoning Hearing Board is a separate entity and awards variances based on the application. To deny variances because a company makes a drug could result in a lawsuit. Mrs. Dix commented how the company is seeking 83% impervious surface with less parking spaces required whereas there is a 63% maximum impervious surface limit.

Medical Marijuana 11-Jan-2017

The [Newtown, Upper Makefiled, Wrightstown] Jointure is planning to consider zoning for both production and distribution of medical marijuana. Mr. Ferguson said that he, Mr. Lewis and Code Enforcement Officer Martin Vogt would be attending a seminar on this topic in February. Mrs. Dix suggested that the Jointure should also consider zoning should marijuana become legal for recreational use.

Water Quality 22-Nov-2016

Newtown Artesian Water Company Presentation. Mr. Ferguson reminded the Board that Mr. Calabro asked to invite a representative of the water company to give a brief overview of water safety in Newtown, as some nearby communities have had difficulties with contaminations. Daniel Algove, Assistant General Manager of Newtown Artesian, said that the water company's mission is to supply safe drinking water to its customers at reasonable rates. Recent testing has shown that Newtown Artesian exceeds all regulations set by DEP and EPA. The system has 10,000 connections to 38,000 customers. The system has five wells and also takes from PA American in Yardley and Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority. There are four storage tanks for emergencies, and the company partners with DEP to monitor for source threats. Test results are available to the public at newtownwater.com Mrs. Dix asked if any water comes from the Delaware River. Mr. Algove said that he believes that some of PA American's water comes from the Delaware. Mr. Ferguson asked if all of Newtown's water comes from North, above us. Mr. Algove said that all of the sources are coming from north to south. Mr. Calabro asked if the water company is a government agency. Mr. Algove said that they are governed by the PUC but are privately owned.

Medical Marijuana 14-Sep-2016

Sarah Foisy, representing Council Rock Coalition for Healthy Youth, urged the Board to give careful consideration to zoning for medical marijuana dispensaries, noting that the introduction of medical marijuana to the community can pose many risks and dangers, including an increase in driving under the influence of medications and other crimes. Mr. Garton thanked Ms. Foisy for speaking on this issue and explained that Newtown, as part of a Jointure, must draft zoning ordances in conjunction with Wrightstown and Upper Makefield. As new uses are introduced, the Jointure carefully researches these uses and begins a review process for new zoning regulations.

[In the following podcast, John Mack interviews Dr. Frank D’Ambrosio, one of the leading voices for medicinal cannabis policy reform in the U.S. Doctor Frank – as he likes to be called – published a survey of medical marijuana patients in California to find out more about what conditions patients use cannabis for and if they have used cannabis to replace or reduce their intake of any other prescription medications such as opioids. The opinions expressed in the podcast are solely those of John Mack and Doctor Frank and do not reflect the official position of Newtown Township nor do they represent the opinions of any other person or entity.]

 

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