First, I need to thank Philly.com for giving me not one but two stories to comment on today. Bill Reed at the Inquirer reports that the Pennsylvania State Department of Environmental Protection ban on new sewer hookups is holding up construction of several projects in Bucks County.
According to the story, last month Pennsylvania DEP issued new regulations banning any new sewer hookups in lower Bucks County because of allegations that the pumping station that treats the waste is overloaded. The Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority disagrees with DEP and states that the system is not overloaded. As a result:
“The DEP sent the authority a notice of violation in March and banned new hookups on June 26. The ruling prohibits new building permits in Newtown Township and Newtown, Langhorne, Hulmeville, and Penndel Boroughs. It also bans building permits for parts of seven other townships – Bensalem, Bristol, Falls, Lower Makefield, Lower Southampton, Middletown and Northampton – and Langhorne Manor Borough.”
In order to for the ban to be lifted, the DEP is requiring the Authority to upgrade the system’s capacity. Because the State will not pick up the tab for the cost associated with upgrading the system, like in Chattanooga, the local taxpayers will be on the hook for the cost of the upgrade unless an alternative agreement can be reached. While I am all for upgrade outdated and inefficient water and sewer systems, we need to come up with a way that this is done other than through environmental fiat.