Pennsylvania Grants Aid Wastewater Systems

Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell on Aug. 29 announced new investments in sewage systems for nearly 140 communities in 52 counties.

The governor said the investments will help communities, townships, and municipal authorities of all sizes provide safe and clean water to their citizens and customers.

"Just as with any component of our infrastructure, as Pennsylvania's sewage facilities and systems age, our ability to provide needed services and protect the public's health and safety is impaired," said Rendell. "We've worked hard to invest in and rebuild our infrastructure. The grants … are a continuation of those efforts and will help municipalities provide the reliable wastewater services needed to ensure clean water, protect against diseases, and support economic development."

More than $1.8 million in enforcement grants will reimburse local governments for costs associated with permitting on-lot sewage systems, and $415,000 will reimburse the costs associated with preparing and revising official plans to ensure adequate operation and maintenance of sewage facilities. The grants were provided through the Department of Environmental Protection's sewage facilities grant programs.

The Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act, known as Act 537, requires municipalities—either individually or as members of multi-municipal sewage agencies—to enforce on-lot sewage system requirements. Requirements include evaluating and permitting new systems, properly repairing malfunctioning systems, and investigating complaints in a timely manner.

Act 537 authorizes DEP to reimburse local governments for up to 85 percent of the annual costs associated with enforcement and up to 50 percent of the cost associated with preparing a sewage facilities official plan.

These duties are carried out by sewage enforcement officers, who must pass a state-administered test in order to be certified by a state board and are responsible for ensuring that new and repaired on-lot systems are properly sited, designed, permitted, and inspected.

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