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Warriors Mark approves ACT 537 plan update to be sent to DEP for review

Last night, Warriors Mark Supervisors approved an ACT 537 sewage facilities plan update to be sent to the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.
In June, a public meeting was held where supervisors and residents got a chance to learn more about the proposed plan. A draft of the plan was given to board members and limited copies of a plan summary were available to the public. Supervisors and the public also heard presentations regarding the proposed plan created by the township’s engineering firm, Keller Engineers.
At the June meeting, Mark Haefner of Keller Engineers said, “The proposed solution to sewage disposal in the township is a comprehensive on-lot management plan. The apparent absence of malfunctions, coupled with the impractical costs of implementation has ruled out any form of public wastewater system at this time.”
The plan update is being pursued by the township after the DEP requested it do so. The township decided to go forward with the update voluntarily rather than waiting to be mandated to do it by the DEP. The plan summary notes the majority of the township is served by on-lot disposal and, in general, sewage facilities in the area are in good condition.
Using mailed surveys to residents, soil ratings, lot sizes and a follow-up field view, on lot systems were categorized. Only six percent were flagged as malfunctions, either suspected or confirmed. The report did show 77 percent of the on-lot systems had potential problems.
The plan summary also noted well sampling revealed a fair amount of problems outside the public water service area. The summary noted the problems are not necessarily the result of on-lot system malfunction because of “the strong agricultural background in the township.”
The cost for implementing an on-lot management system would be paid for by the residents. The plan summary said the township could expect some additional administrative responsibilities, but an increase in expenses would be minimal. No tax increase is expected using the on-lot plan.
The plan recommended a three-year pumping and inspection cycle as it was presented in June and again last night. The plan recommended the township be divided into three pumping districts. Each year, on a rotating basis, residents in each district would have to have their on-lot system pumped and inspected.
However, after public comment last night and a discussion between the supervisors, township engineers and other officials, the board decided to make a change in its submission to the DEP.
They decided to revise the plan so that the pumping and inspection cycle would be done once every four years. One resident noted Porter Township in Huntingdon County has an on-lot management system and the cycle is once every four years there. The township’s zoning officer, Gary Love, noted that Halfmoon Township in nearby Centre County had a once every six-year cycle, but had been told by DEP to revise the cycle to once every three years.
Residents’ concerns ranged from costs of pumping and inspection to the actual need to pump certain on-lot systems once every three years.
At the June meeting, costs for pumping were estimated at $180 per user. No estimate by the township or its engineering firm was given for the cost of an inspection. However, at the June meeting, Warriors Mark resident and developer John Gilliland said he estimated costs for pumping and inspection at $300 combined.
Last night, a Keller representative, David Cunningham, explained three years was recommended since that is what DEP expects from municipalities using an on-lot maintenance plan.
The plan summary also detailed costs of the option to use public sewage treatment. There were four alternatives listed. The low-end projected monthly cost was listed at $85 while the high-end monthly cost was listed as $158. The plan summary noted the cost would be approximately twice the rate paid by customers to other systems in the area.
Last night, Supervisor Chairman L. Stewart Neff noted that what the supervisors did in approving the plan to be sent to DEP for review does not bound them to the proposed plan since it still needs DEP approval and ordinances would need to be passed to institute it.
After the public meeting in June, a 30-day period was allowed for written public comment. Additional comments from planning and environmental agencies also needed to be incorporated into the plan. Supervisors made the actual plan, which is more than 500 pages in length, available to the public at the township office by appointment.
The board voted unanimously to send the plan to DEP with the change to a four-year pumping and inspection cycle. With the change, the plan submitted to DEP will be revised to show four separate pumping districts.
The soonest the plan would be implemented is April of next year, pending comments from DEP, a resubmittal of the plan, DEP’s acceptance of the plan, the adoption of sewage ordinances, a compilation of an on-lot system database and training for waste haulers.