One for all: Can regional sewage plan work?

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Lancaster New Era Lancaster, PA

David O'Connor

December 01, 2000 — It would be a "shared sewage plan" for 55,000 customers from East Petersburg to Safe Harbor.

The seven suburban communities that are part of the Lancaster Area Sewer Authority (LASA) are at work on plans to develop a communal sewage facilities plan, a move that would allow them to share costs and plan sewer needs for their growing region.

The plan has been discussed since May by officials from East Hempfield, West Hempfield, Manor, Lancaster and Manheim townships, and East Petersburg and Mountville boroughs.

A consultant is expected to be chosen soon, and the plan could be in place in 2 1/2 years.

LASA executive director Mike Kyle said the effort will produce "a single, comprehensive regional planning document, while at the same time, addressing the individual sewage facilities planning needs of each municipality over the next 20 years.

"It's not a one-size-fits-all by any means. And that is the trick, to have one common, coherent plan that addresses the unique needs of each municipality."

The communities involved are everything from compact boroughs with a central business area to sprawling and growing townships, so "everybody has unique needs," Kyle notes.

According to Pennsylvania's Act 537, all municipalities must have a state-approved plan for handling sanitary sewage.

If the Lancaster-area shared plan is developed, it would be the largest agreement of its type in the central Pennsylvania region, and "the fact that we have seven municipalities working through one (proposed) consultant is fairly unique," Kyle says.

Bill Adams, Lancaster Township's manager, calls it "a great demonstration of what can be done with intermunicipal planning."

Lancaster Township has set aside $25,000 for each of the next two years as its contribution to the joint effort, and LASA has asked the seven to budget for at least a first year of the plan.

The municipalities have met several times since March and have sent a request for proposals to six Lancaster-area consulting firms. The proposals will be due Jan. 8.

If completed, the plan would have to be adopted by the municipalities and by LASA, which serves 55,000 customers in the seven communities.

All seven communities have indicated they'd like to take part, "provided costs are acceptable and fairly allocated," Kyle states. They began meeting to talk about the plan in May.

Kyle expects a consultant to be named in March, with the final plan to be in place by 2003.

Another municipal official, West Hempfield Manager Charles Douts, says the township's 537 plan "is very old and needs to be updated, so it just made sense for us to join with our neighbors" on the new proposal.

"All of us doing our update at once should save money" and provide other benefits, Douts said.

© 2000 Lancaster New Era Lancaster, PA. via Bell&Howell Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved

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