Things are heating up for the Branch Pond water level petition. As previously mentioned the hearing has been scheduled for August 23rd. It will be held in China, I believe at the China Elementary School. From what I’m hearing, DEP has made major changes to how they handle and process water level petitions compared to how they’ve run ours. For example, petitioners, interveners, and interested parties are all required to submit sworn and notarized pre-file testimony over a month before the actual hearing, followed by rebuttal comments. The actual public hearing sounds a quite different from what we went through, even a little perfunctory- an opportunity to review and discuss already-submitted comments and testimony. The following is an excerpt from an email I recently received from Brandon Kulik, Branch Pond Petition Spokesperson:
The hearing will be divided into two parts.
During the day, sworn testifiers will each be invited to give a brief summary statement about their testimony, which of course will have already been reviewed by all parties. Each party will then have the option to question witnesses, as will the DEP staff. State agency scientific staff will likely also testify regarding their findings and recommendations pertaining to water levels, water quality, aquatic habitat etc. and be able to be questioned by the legally recognized parties.
In the evening (after 6 PM) the DEP hearings officer will take comments from the general public. This will not require any prior submittal and is not subject to cross examination although the DEP may occasionally ask clarifying questions of speakers.
Clearly, in comparison the Clary Lake water level petition has been a learning experience for the Department- and for us too I suppose.
The Branch Pond Association will be holding their Annual meeting at 2 PM July 7th at the home of Mike Wozniak on Branch Pond. The primary topic of conversation will be, obviously, the upcoming public hearing. I am planning to attend to share my experience with the public hearing process. Branch Pond is a beautiful little pond- Margaret and I visited Mike and Brandon last summer. The two pictures embedded in this post were sent to me by Mike Wozniak and shows what happens to Branch pond when the dam owner let’s the water out. Wow. Makes me greatful that Kelley can only drain out part of our pond. I don’t know what the date of the photos is.