Agency Orders Pa. Town to Move on Sewage Plan

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has ordered Wayne Township, Lawrence County, to implement a sewage plan that would provide service to approximately 180 homes in the Squaw Run neighborhood. Nearly six out of 10 on-lot septic systems in the area were deemed to be malfunctioning.

"Wayne Township needs to fulfill its legal obligations to make adequate sewage disposal available for all of its residents," said DEP Regional Director Kelly Burch. "The current situation is totally unacceptable; malfunctioning on-lot systems create a human health and environmental hazard. This long-delayed project needs to get moving."

The agency approved a sewage plan proposed by the township in 2004 that called for a public sewage system to serve Squaw Run. The plan was devised in response to the high on-lot malfunction rate. Under the plan, the sewage would be directed to the Ellwood City sewage treatment plant.

After DEP approved the plan, the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST) offered a construction loan for the project to the Wayne Township Sewer Authority, but the offer was not accepted and the township failed to implement the sewage plan.

In 2007, Wayne Township adopted a new implementation schedule that called for the Squaw Run project to be completed by August 2009, and the township authority again applied to PENNVEST for financial assistance because the initial offer had been withdrawn after being rejected.

On Jan. 22, 2008, PENNVEST approved a financial package for the project with the condition that the township guarantee the authority's loan. To date, Wayne Township has not accepted the collateral loan condition and the sewage plan's implementation has been further delayed.

The agency's order requires the township to take immediate steps to implement its sewage plan by Aug. 31, 2009, and submit progress reports to the department every 60 days. The township must also submit a new schedule for the award of contracts and other tasks related to the Squaw Run project within 30 days.

The order further prohibits the township from issuing any on-lot sewage permits in the Squaw Run area until the sewage plan has been implement fully in accordance with the order.

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