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VENER v. CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP MUNICIPAL SEWER AND WATER AUTHORITY (04/07/72)

decided: April 7, 1972.

VENER, ET UX.
v.
CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP MUNICIPAL SEWER AND WATER AUTHORITY



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County in case of Ronald M. Vener and Marni Vener, his wife v. The Municipal Sewer and Water Authority of Cranberry Township, No. 112, December Term, 1970.

COUNSEL

Joseph A. Del Sole, with him Girman & Del Sole, for appellants.

Leonard L. Stewart, with him Edward L. Symons, Jr., and Reding, Blackstone, Rea & Sell, for appellee.

Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Wilkinson, Jr.

Author: Wilkinson

[ 5 Pa. Commw. Page 124]

In 1960, the Municipal Sewer and Water Authority of Cranberry Township (Authority) was organized pursuant to the Municipality Authorities Act of 1945, Act of May 2, 1945, P.L. 382, as amended, 53 P.S. § 301, et seq., for the purpose of supplying sewage and water service for residential and commercial users in Cranberry Township. Following its organization, the Authority purchased from the Fernway Water Company, a water distribution system serving the Fernway area of the Township at a cost of $71,000. The acquisition of the water system serving the Fernway area was financed by a bond issue in 1960. In 1963 the Authority acquired the water distribution system serving the Sun Valley area of the Township and connected that system to the system serving the Fernway area, the Fernway water system wells becoming the source of water for both areas. The record is silent with respect to how this acquisition was accomplished and what cost was involved, if any.

Inasmuch as the composite system was not adequate to serve other areas of the Township, the Authority embarked on a program in 1964 to construct a high pressure water system to serve other areas of the Township (hereinafter the General Township water system), connect the Sun Valley water distribution system to the new General Township water system, and retire the bonds issued in 1960 to finance the purchase of the Fernway water system. To accomplish these objectives, the Authority incurred a bonded indebtedness of $1,000,000,

[ 5 Pa. Commw. Page 125]

    of which amount $256,000 was used to construct a booster pumping station, a water storage stand pipe, and water lines necessary to serve the General Township areas. Upon completion of the General Township water system, the Sun Valley water distribution system was disconnected from the Fernway water system and connected to the General Township water system. It should be noted at this point that the composite water system which served both the Fernway and Sun Valley areas was a low pressure system, but the Sun Valley water distribution system was capable of being operated as a high pressure system. It was for this reason that when the high pressure General Township water system was completed, the Sun Valley water distribution system was transferred to the new high pressure system. Upon completion of the objectives of the 1964 bond issue, the Authority established a higher rate for residential users in the General Township areas than the rate for the Fernway and Sun Valley areas which was maintained at its pre-1964 level. It was this action of the Authority that precipitated this suit in 1970.

The appellants contend (1) that the Authority must set a uniform water rate for all residential users throughout the area serviced by the Authority, and (2) that differing rates charged to residential users in the Sun Valley area and the General Township area are unreasonable where both areas are served by the same high pressure system, water is taken from the same source, and where the same costs are attributable to supplying water to both areas.

The answer to appellants' first contention is found by examining the language of Section 4 B(h) of the Municipality Authorities Act of 1945, 53 P.S. § 306 B(h), which states:

"B. Every Authority is hereby granted, and shall have and may exercise all powers ...


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