Appeals from the Order of the Environmental Hearing Board in the cases of Butler Township Board of Supervisors v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Environmental Resources and Borough of Ashland v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Environmental Resources, EHB Docket No. 83-037-M.
Michael Q. Davis, Campbell, Spitzer, Davis & Turgeon, for petitioner, Butler Township Board of Supervisors.
Joel R. Burcat, with him, Jan P. Paden, Rhoads & Sinon, for petitioner, Borough of Ashland.
James D. Morris, Assistant Counsel for respondent.
Paul Domalakes, with him, John Domalakes, Rubright, Domalakes, Troy & Miller, for intervenors, Frackville Area Municipal Authority (FAMA) and Borough of Frackville.
Judges Craig and Doyle, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
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The Borough of Ashland (Ashland) and the Board of Supervisors of Butler Township, Schuylkill County (Butler)*fn1 appeal here a decision and order of the Environmental Hearing Board (Board)*fn2 dismissing Butler's appeal
[ 99 Pa. Commw. Page 242]
from an order of the Department of Environmental Resources (DER) which requires Butler and several surrounding municipalities and authorities*fn3 to enter into an agreement to provide for the construction of a regional sewage treatment plant at a specific site within Butler's boundaries (Site 1).
[ 99 Pa. Commw. Page 243]
The Frackville Area Municipal Authority (FAMA)*fn4 is a regional municipal authority formed by Frackville to construct and operate sewage collection and treatment facilities to serve Frackville, sections of Butler and sections of West Mahanoy. In 1980 FAMA commissioned a study to examine the existing and proposed waste water collection and treatment facilities in Frackville and the surrounding municipalities. The study considered the collection and treatment needs of Frackville, Butler and West Mahanoy on a comprehensive basis, including a cost analysis of sewering Frackville and sections of Butler and West Mahanoy in relation to ultimate sewage treatment and disposal. Two possible sites were eventually identified for placement of a sewage treatment plant. Site 1, a 7.835 acre partially-wooded parcel in Butler, is in a woodland-conservation district under Butler's zoning ordinance. This Court previously affirmed the denial of a request by FAMA for a variance to permit it to construct a treatment plant there. Frackville Area Municipal Authority v. Zoning Hearing Page 243} Board of Butler Township, 69 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 416, 451 A.2d 564 (1982) (Frackville). Site 2 is located in Gilberton and the study recommended that the plant be built there, partially because of the opposition which developed to the selection of Site 1.
Frackville's existing sewage collection system is aged and deteriorated. Currently, FAMA collects inadequately treated or untreated sewage from portions of Frackville, Butler and West Mahanoy and conveys it by means of a pumping station over Broad Mountain, where it flows downhill into an abandoned mine pit. The pumping station occasionally fails or overflows due to storm water inflows which exceed the pump's capacity, resulting in an overflow of inadequately treated or untreated sewage into the Little Mahanoy, a local creek. Neither Frackville, Butler nor West Mahanoy now has a complete sewer system sufficient to collect and convey all of the sewage from each municipality to the pumping station.
Pursuant to the Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act (SFA),*fn5 Frackville, Butler and West Mahanoy previously adopted official sewage facility plans which were approved by DER.*fn6 DER preliminarily considered the official sewage plans of Frackville, Butler and West Mahanoy. Frackville's plan proposed the maximum use of existing facilities for collection with increased capacity at the present pumping station, and would purportedly enable collection from the areas now served by
[ 99 Pa. Commw. Page 244]
FAMA. Frackville proposed to replace the combined sewers in the north drainage area to attempt to reduce the need for pumping by eliminating the inflow of storm water.
West Mahanoy currently has collection lines which drain into Frackville's system, and its official plan proposes construction of a separate collection system for one of its sections which ...