DEP Untangles Sharon, Pa., Plant Ownership Issue

The city of Sharon and the Sharon Sanitary Authority in Pennsylvania have entered into a consent order and agreement with the Department of Environmental Protection that addresses long-standing sewage issues. The Feb. 25 agreement replaces an earlier consent order and agreement from 2002 that was executed with the city and the Upper Shenango Valley Water Pollution Control Authority.

"This agreement resolves violations and corrects the ownership issue by transferring the environmental permits from the city to the authority," said DEP Regional Director Kelly Burch. "The agreement stabilizes and strengthens this vital community resource to bring long-term benefit to the Sharon area."

The new agreement addresses chronic wastewater violations and requires the authority to eliminate sewage overflows from its hydraulically overloaded system by Aug. 31. The agreement also stipulates a timeline for the new wastewater treatment plant to go online and penalties for violations of the 2002 consent order and agreement.

These issues represent violations of the Clean Streams Law and the Sewage Facilities Act.

When the 2002 agreement was executed, DEP, the city, and the Upper Shenango Authority believed that the sewage facilities were owned by the city. When it was apparent that the city and the Upper Shenango Authority could not meet the implementation schedule in the 2002 agreement, a meeting was arranged to discuss the situation.

The department learned at that meeting that the Sharon Sanitary Authority owns the sewage plant and had since 1962. Furthermore, the city sold the remaining portion of the system to the Sharon authority on Nov. 19, 2007. Consequently, none of the required permits were issued to the proper entity.

Upon signing, DEP allotted 65 sewer connections for distribution by the Sharon Sanitary Authority.

Under the terms of the new agreement, the authority paid a $15,000 penalty and will pay an additional $37,200 if the new treatment plant is not operational by Aug. 31.