Appeal from the Order of the Environmental Hearing Board in case of Summerhill Borough v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Environmental Resources, Docket No. 72-343-D.
John W. Taylor, for petitioner.
Louis A. Naugle, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers, Blatt and DiSalle. Opinion by Judge Rogers. Judge Mencer dissents.
[ 34 Pa. Commw. Page 575]
In 1968, the Sanitary Water Board of the Department of Health of Pennsylvania, the predecessor of the Department of Environmental Resources (DER), issued an order directing Summerhill Borough (Borough) to stop discharging raw sewage into the waters of Little Conemaugh River. In consequence, the Borough engaged a firm of professional engineers which prepared plans for the construction of a sewer system and treatment facility. The plans cost the Borough $31,485.45. The plans were reviewed by the Sanitary Water Board which, in April 1970, issued a permit for the construction of the proposed facilities.
In May 1971, DER notified the Borough that it could no longer certify the Borough's sewage project for federal funding because:
[ 34 Pa. Commw. Page 576]
Federal Regulation 18 C.F.R. § 601 and the guidelines issued thereunder require the Commonwealth to certify that projects recommended for federal assistance are part of, or consistent with . . . regional waste and water quality plans.
Commonwealth policy regarding certification is to certify only those projects representing the best mix of (1) expeditious action to abate pollution, (2) consistency with available information on long-range development and (3) economy. The project application referenced above is inconsistent with this policy for the following reasons.
Permit No. 1170401 was issued to the Summerhill Borough Council for the construction of a sewage treatment plant to serve the Borough of Summerhill. The Cambria County Comprehensive Water and Sewer Plan, which was partially funded under the Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act recommends that the Borough of Summerhill undertake a joint sewerage project with the Borough of South Fork and Ehrenfeld and (possibly) other municipalities in the same watershed in order to abate existing pollution and prevent future pollution. There are raw sewage discharges in the Boroughs of South Fork and Ehrenfeld and in Summerhill Township. South Fork Borough and Summerhill Township are under orders to abate these discharges. If a separate sewage treatment plant is built by Summerhill Borough, duplicate facilities will be required to serve the other communities. All available information indicates that a joint project will be more economical than separate facilities. The duplication of facilities and costs that would result from the
[ 34 Pa. Commw. Page 577]
implementation of separate projects, is not in the best interest of the Commonwealth. In view of the above and the Department's policy, ...