Pa. Governor announces $2.2M in sewage facility enforcement grants for local municipalities

HARRISBURG, PA, Nov. 17, 2009 -- Governor Edward G. Rendell today awarded $2.2 million in sewage facilities enforcement grants to 281 local agencies to reimburse costs associated with permitting on-lot sewage systems during 2008...

Nov 17th, 2009

HARRISBURG, PA, Nov. 17, 2009 -- Governor Edward G. Rendell today awarded $2.2 million in sewage facilities enforcement grants to 281 local agencies to reimburse costs associated with permitting on-lot sewage systems during 2008.

The annual grants are awarded through Act 537, the Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act, which authorizes the Department of Environmental Protection to reimburse local governments for a percentage of the annual costs incurred in assuring that new and repaired on-lot systems are properly sited, designed, permitted and inspected.

"More than half of Pennsylvania's residents rely on wells and groundwater for drinking water, so it is vitally important that we give local government the support to protect these resources through sewage Enforcement Grants," Governor Rendell said. "We worked with the legislature to continue funding this program, but we also encourage municipalities to consider following the successful models of other local agencies and attempt to recover additional program costs, perhaps even the full cost of administering the program, through increased permit fees."

Act 537 requires municipalities, either individually or as members of multi-municipal sewage agencies, to enforce on-lot sewage system requirements, including evaluating and permitting new systems, properly repairing malfunctioning systems, and investigating complaints in a timely manner. These duties are carried out by sewage enforcement officers, who must pass a state-administered test in order to receive certification from a state board.

Act 537 authorizes DEP to reimburse up to 85 percent of the remaining local share. The department is currently providing reimbursements that are approximately 60 percent lower than in previous years due to economic conditions. Under reductions in the 2009-10 budget, the department will reimburse applicants at 42.5 percent of their eligible costs.

Malfunctioning sewer systems are one of the prime causes of waterborne disease. There are more than one million on-lot septic systems in Pennsylvania serving an estimated 3.7 million people.

For more information, visit www.dep.state.pa.us, keyword: DEP Act 537.

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