Applications for Permits to Build a Reservoir and Dam

In Borough of Collegeville v. Philadelphia Suburban Water Co., 377 Pa. 636, 105 A.2d 722 (1954), Philadelphia Suburban Water Company (PSWC) sought to construct a reservoir and dam across Perkiomen Creek. It filed applications for permits with the Water and Power Resources Board (Board) pursuant to the requirements of Section 6 of the Act of June 24, 1939, P.L. 842, as amended, 32 P.S. 636, and the Act of June 25, 1913, P.L. 555, as amended, 32 P.S. 681 et seq. PSWC's applications had been supported by detailed plans and specifications including reports on engineering and geology. In accordance with the requirements of the former Administrative Agency Law of June 4, 1945, P.L. 1388, formerly 71 P.S. 1710.1 et seq., the Board held public hearings after which it issued its adjudication and order authorizing PSWC's project. The Board specifically found that the project would not jeopardize public safety or cause any injury to the Commonwealth, but on the contrary would protect a large metropolitan area from the hardship and dangers of a critical water shortage and provide needed conservation of water in the area. Borough of Collegeville, 377 Pa. at 642, 105 A.2d at 725. In Borough of Collegeville construction of the dam had been approved by the tribunal specifically designated to oversee and manage the Commonwealth's allocation of waters only after PSWC underwent a legislatively-created permit process, which included public hearings and the Board's adjudication of facts. According to the Supreme Court, to permit the trial court to re-examine the suitability or fitness of the project from a public nuisance perspective would "destroy the legislative creation of unified supervision and control of the supply of a necessity of life." Borough of Collegeville, 377 Pa. at 653, 105 A.2d at 730.