New law enables residential and business growth in rural regions while adhering to protection of Pennsylvania’s waterways
HARRISBURG– Legislation passed in the General Assembly this week would ensure a balance is maintained in enabling community growth and rural homeownership while protecting Pennsylvania’s specially designated watersheds, announced Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne/Monroe/Pike/Susquehanna/Wayne/Wyoming) and Reps. Sandra Major (R-Susquehanna/Wayne/Wyoming), Rosemary M. Brown (R-Monroe/Pike), Mike Peifer (R-Monroe/Pike/Wayne) and Mario Scavello (R-Monroe), supporters of the bill.
House Bill 1325 would sanction on-lot septic systems approved by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) as having met anti-degradation requirements in order to protect Pennsylvania waterways by meeting the state’s Clean Streams Law.
The Commonwealth is home to more than 1 million on-lot sewage systems serving an estimated 3.7 million residents. Thus far, the state has been able to balance the use of such systems with the protection of Pennsylvania’s waterways. In fact, analysis conducted by DEP in northeastern Pennsylvania shows water quality has improved over the past several decades.
Rather than setting new guidelines for planning and permitting septic systems in special designation waters, House Bill 1325 would, in effect, make the planning and permitting process under the current regulations the same process for systems located in High Quality and Exceptional Value watersheds.
The lawmakers noted that in rural counties such as theirs, traditional municipal wastewater treatment facilities simply cannot be located near many homes and are often cost prohibitive. Residents and communities in rural areas have relied upon on-lot systems for sewage treatment for decades and have been successful at still protecting the Commonwealth’s valuable water resources.
They also noted that Pennsylvania’s ability to boast more than 6,090 stream miles of designated High Quality and Exceptional Value waters, many of which are located in rural counties with increased use of on-lot septic systems, demonstrates that efforts to protect water quality have been successful.
“We are pleased to have this legislation garner such strong support in both the House and Senate and look forward to House Bill 1325 being signed into law by the governor in the coming days,” announced the lawmakers. “We also appreciate the work of our local elected officials, conservation districts, planning boards and sewage enforcement officers, who take great strides to maintain and protect our waterways. Their hard work and successful track record is what helped this legislation ultimately pass.”
Gov. Tom Corbett has 10 days to sign the bill into law once it reaches his desk.
Contact: Jennifer Wilson