A. Identify all existing wastewater planning that:
1. Has been previously undertaken under the Sewage Facilities Act (Act 537):
On August 2, 1973 Nuangola Borough adopted the Master Plan for Water Supply and Wastewater Management for Luzerne County. The water supply portion of the Master Plan was adopted by Resolution 73-4; the wastewater portion was adopted separately by Resolution 73.5. Copies of both resolutions are found in Appendix 1 of this Sewage Plan Update.
2. Has not been carried out according to an approved implementation schedule contained in the plans:
The Comprehensive Water Quality Management Plan (COWAMP) for the Upper Susquehanna River Basin Area (Study Area 4), dated February, 1983, noted that Nuangola Lake has been adversely affected by malfunctioning on-lot sewage disposal systems. Based on an evaluation of DEP records to determine the status of its sewage disposal systems, Nuangola Borough was assigned to Priority II, which indicates “Municipalities that have some on-lot malfunctions and/or potential future sewage needs due to projected growth.” To address this condition the COWAMP report recommended that the Borough conduct a Sewage Needs Study by 1985. This study has not been undertaken previous to the present Sewage Plan. Copies of relevant pages from the COWAMP report are also found in Appendix 1.
3. Is anticipated or planned by applicable sewer authorities:
No other Act 537 planning is now in progress or contemplated by area sewer authorities.
4. Has been done through official plan revisions (planning modules) and addenda:
The planning consultants were not able to obtain a history
of official plan revisions from either Nuangola Borough Council or the
Nuangola Borough Planning Commission; however, new development has been
negligible in recent years. The 1990 Census indicated 256 total households
in the Borough, which increased to 259 in the 2000 Census, or 1.2 percent
increase in the last 10-year period.
B. Identify and summarize all municipal and county planning documents adopted pursuant to the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, including:
1. Zoning regulations and maps that establish lot sizes predicated on sewage disposal methods:
Under the authority of Act 247, Nuangola Borough adopted a revised Zoning Ordinance on October 21, 1996. The ordinance establishes four districts which have minimum lot sizes as follows:
District C-1: Conservation District: One acre for lots with less than 8 percent slope; two acres for lots with 8 - 15 percent slope; and three acres for lots with 16 - 25 percent slope. Lots with slope exceeding 25 percent shall be maintained in forest cover and may not be developed.
District R-1: Newer Existing and Future 1 - 2 Family Residential District: 11,250 sq.ft. when the lot is served by both central water and sewer; 30,000 sq.ft. per dwelling unit where central water and sewer are not available.
District R-2: Existing 1 - 2 Family Residential District: 7,500 sq.ft. when the lot is served by both central water and sewer; 30,000 sq.ft. per dwelling unit where central water and sewer are not yet available.
District B-1: Business District: 11,250 sq.ft. when the lot is served by both central water and sewer; 30,000 sq.ft. where central water and sewer are not available.
The Zoning Ordinance also prohibits placing a structure within 35 feet of the edge of a wetland. A copy of the zoning map is included as Exhibit 1.
2. Subdivision Regulations:
Nuangola Borough adopted revised Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance 93-2 on August 5, 1993. Provisions of this ordinance with relevance to sewage facilities planning include the following:
Section 102.2 - Policy:
“Land to be subdivided or developed shall be of such character that it can be used safely for building purposes without danger to health or peril from fire, flood, or other menace, and land shall not be subdivided or developed until available public, central, or on-lot facilities and improvements exist and proper provision has been made for drainage, water, sewerage, recreation facilities, and transportation facilities.”
Section 602.2 - General Site Standards:
“Land which is unsuitable for development because of hazards to life, safety, health, or property, shall not be subdivided or developed until such hazards have been eliminated or unless adequate safeguards against such hazards are provided for in the Subdivision and Land Development Plan. Land considered as having unsuitable characteristics include that which is subject to flooding or which has a high ground water table; that which, if developed, would create or aggravate a flooding condition upon other land; that which is subject to subsidence or underground fires; that which contains significant areas of slopes greater than fifteen percent (15%); that which is hazardous because of topography or means of access; and that which is subject to ground pollution or contamination.”
Section 611.2 - High Density (One dwelling per 8,000 sq.ft. or less) Residential Districts:
“Sanitary sewerage facilities shall connect with public sanitary sewerage systems, if available, or to other central sanitary sewerage systems. Sewers shall be installed to serve each lot and to grades and sizes approved by the Borough engineer. No individual (on-lot) disposal system shall be permitted. Sanitary sewerage facilities (including installation of laterals in the right-of-way) shall be subject to the specifications, rules, regulations, and guidelines of the Borough engineer and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources.”
Section 611.3 - Low-Density (One dwelling unit per 130,680 sq.ft. or more) and medium density (one dwelling unit per 8,000 to 130,680 sq.ft.) Residential Districts:
“Sanitary sewerage systems shall be constructed as follows:
a. Where a public sanitary sewerage system is reasonably accessible, the developer shall connect with the system and provide sewers accessible to each lot in the subdivision or building in the development.
b. Where public sanitary sewerage systems are not reasonably accessible but will become available within a reasonable period of time (not to exceed fifteen (15) years), the developer may choose one of the following alternatives:
(i) Other Central Sewerage System: A central sewerage system other than a public system may be provided. The maintenance cost shall be assessed against each property benefited. Where plans for future public sanitary sewerage systems exist, the developer shall install the sewer lines, laterals, and mains to be in permanent conformance with such plans and ready for connection to such public sewer mains; or
(ii) Individual Disposal Systems: Individual (on-lot) disposal systems shall be allowed provided the developer shall install sanitary sewer lines, laterals, and mains either from the street curb or from the rear lot line to a point in the subdivision boundary where a future connection with the public sewer main shall be made. Sewer lines shall be laid from the house or other building to the street line, and a connection shall be available in the building to connect from the individual disposal system to the sewer system when the public sewers become available. Such sewer systems shall be capped until ready for use and shall conform to all plans for installation of the public sewer system and shall be ready for connection to such public main.
c. Where sanitary sewer systems are not reasonably accessible and will not become available for a period in excess of fifteen (15) years, the developer may install sewerage systems as follows:
(i) Medium-Density Residential Districts: A central sewerage system other than a public system shall only be used. No individual on-lot system shall be permitted.
(ii) Low-Density Residential Districts: Individual on-lot disposal systems or central sewerage systems other than public shall be used.”
Section 611.5 - Mandatory connection to a public sewer system:
“If a public sanitary sewer is accessible and a sanitary
sewer is placed in a street or alley abutting upon property, the owner
thereof shall be required to connect to said sewer for the purpose of disposing
waste, and it shall be unlawful for any such owner or occupant to maintain
upon any such property an individual on-lot sewage disposal system.”
Section 807 - Sewerage systems:
“Where a central sewerage system is proposed and/or required, it shall be designed, installed, and maintained in accordance with the plans submitted by the subdivider or developer and approved by the Borough engineer, the engineer of the Sewer Authority, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources. Where required, a Department of Environmental Resources Planning Module approval shall also be obtained before final plan approval. The improvements shall be designed and constructed to the standards set forth in Section 611 of this Ordinance. Upon completion of the installation of improvements, a reproducible as-built plan of the system shall be filed with the Borough.
Where a central sewerage system is not feasible or is not required, each lot in a subdivision shall be capable of being provided with an individual on-lot disposal system in accordance with the minimum standards approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources and as referenced in Section 611 of this Ordinance.”
3. All limitations and plans related to floodplain and stormwater management, and to special protection areas:
Nuangola Borough participates in the National Flood Insurance Program and has enacted various ordinances and resolutions supporting it. Resolution 75-3 of September 4, 1975 was adopted to “ . . . require building permits for all proposed construction or other improvements . . . “ and to “ . . . require on-site waste disposal systems to be located so as to avoid impairment of them or contamination from them during flooding and/or mud slides.”
Resolution 75-4, also of September 4, 1975, was adopted to indicate compliance with the regulations of the National Flood Insurance Program and to “ . . . take such other official action as may be reasonably necessary to carry out the objectives of the program.”
Ordinance 91-3, enacted June 6, 1991, revised portions of previous Floodplain Management Ordinance No. 82-3, including these specific provisions:
Section 4.00.B: “Within any identified floodplain area, no new construction or development shall be located with the area measured fifty (50) feet landward from the top-of-bank of any water course, unless a permit is obtained from the Department of Environmental Resources, Bureau of Dams and Waterway Management.”
Section 4.00.C: “Within any identified floodplain area, the elevation of the lowest floor (including basement) of any new or substantially improved residential structure shall be one and one-half (1½) feet or more above the one hundred (100) year flood elevation.”
Section 4.00.E: “Within any floodway area, no new construction or development shall be permitted that would cause any increase in the one hundred (100) year flood elevation.”
Article VI.B: “No expansion or enlargement of an existing structure shall be allowed within any floodway area that would cause any increase in the elevation of the one hundred (100) year flood.”
Article VII.7: “No variance shall be granted for any construction, development, use or activity within any floodway area that would cause any increase in the one hundred (100) year flood elevation.”
II. PHYSICAL AND DEMOGRAPHIC ANALYSIS
A. Base Line Mapping
1. Identification of planning area and municipal boundaries:
Baseline mapping of the study area boundaries, including all currently developed properties, is produced on Drawing 1. The study area is limited to the Borough of Nuangola and includes all developed properties within it.
No municipal authorities are contracted to provide sewer service in Nuangola Borough at this time. The Mountaintop Area Joint Sanitary Authority currently provides gravity and low-pressure sewer service by Intermunicipal Service Agreements within portions of Wright, Fairview and Rice Townships. Carl K. Kresge of Wilbar Realty, Inc. operates a wastewater treatment plant serving Laurel Lake Village, a residential development in Rice Township, which adjoins Nuangola Borough to the northwest. Nuangola Borough acts as its own sewage management agency whose service boundaries are those of the Borough.
2. Identification of physical characteristics:
Nuangola Lake, streams tributary to it, and all wetlands designated on the National Wetlands Inventory Mapping within the Borough are shown on Drawing 2. Topography from the USGS mapping, Wilkes-Barre West Quadrangle, is also reproduced on this drawing.
Twenty-one units of seven soil series have been mapped in Nuangola Borough by the Soil Survey of Luzerne County. The occurrences of each unit are depicted on Drawing No. 2, and a description of each series is given below:
a. Arnot Series: Soils are shallow, well drained and nearly level to steep. These soils are on the convex tops and sides of hills, knolls and mountain ridges. Erosion hazard is slight to moderate, depending on slope. Arnot soils have severe limitations for in-ground sewage disposal systems due to slope and depth to bedrock.
b. Chippewa Series: Soils are deep, poorly to very poorly drained and nearly level to gently sloping. These soils are on broad, rolling mountaintops and in intermountain basins in low-lying depressions and upland drainageways. Erosion hazard is slight. Chippewa soils have severe limitations for in-ground sewage disposal systems due to high water table and very slow permeability.
c. Lackawanna Series: Soils are deep, well drained and gently sloping to very steep. These soils are on the convex uplands of broad, rolling mountaintops and intermountain basins and on the lower slopes of mountain ridges. Erosion hazard is slight. Lackawanna soils have severe limitations for in-ground sewage disposal systems due to slow permeability.
d. Morris Series: Morris soils are deep, somewhat poorly drained and nearly level to sloping. These sols are in the smooth, concave depressions and drainageways of broad, rolling mountaintops and intermountain basins. Erosion hazard is slight. Morris soils have severe limitations for in-ground sewage disposal systems due to seasonal high water table and slow permeability.
e. Muck: Muck consists of very poorly drained level and nearly level organic soils located in low lying, concave depressions of broad, rolling mountaintops and intermountain basins. Erosion hazard is slight. Muck has severe limitations for in-ground sewage disposal systems due to seasonal high water table.
f. Oquaga and Lordstown Series: These soils are moderately deep, well drained and gently sloping to very steep. They are located on the convex tops and sides of hills, knolls and mountain ridges of broad, rolling mountaintops and intermountain basins. Erosion hazard is slight to moderate, depending on slope. Oquaga and Lordstown soils have severe limitations for in-ground sewage disposal systems due to shallow depth to bedrock and slope.
g. Wellsboro Series: Wellsboro soils are deep, moderately well drained and gently sloping to moderately steep. These soils are on the smooth, slightly concave uplands of broad, rolling mountaintops and intermountain basins. Erosion hazard is slight. Wellsboro soils have severe limitations for in-ground sewage disposal systems due to seasonal high water table and slow permeability.
“Severe” limitations are defined in the Soil Survey as “Soil properties are so unfavorable and so difficult to correct or overcome that major soil reclamation, special design, or intensive management is required.”
According to DEP Chapter 73, Appendix A Criteria, the soils occurring in Nuangola Borough can be assigned to five groups according to their suitability for subsurface disposal of sewage effluent:
Oquaga and Lordstown Series: Moderately deep, well-drained soils with probable percolation rates of 1 inch of water in 15 - 30 minutes (Group 5).
Lackawanna Series: Deep, well drained soils with probable percolation rates of 1 inch of water in 45 - 60 minutes (Group 8).
Arnot Soils: Well-drained soils that are shallow or very shallow to bedrock (Group 12).
Wellsboro Series: Moderately well drained soils on upland sites having seasonal high water table which is a major limitation on use for subsurface disposal systems (Group 14).
Chippewa and Morris Series and Muck: Somewhat poorly, poorly and very poorly drained soils on upland sites having high water tables and are unsuitable for subsurface disposal systems (Group 15).
Taking the assessments of soil suitability in the Soil
Survey of Luzerne County and in Chapter 73, Appendix A, both into account,
the following conclusions have been made and are noted on Drawing No. 3:
|SOIL UNIT||SUITABILITY FOR SUBSURFACE SEWAGE DISPOSAL SYSTEMS|
|ArD, AsF, LaD, LcD, LEF, OlD, OpD, OXF, WlD, WmD||Unsuitable due to excessive slope|
|ClA, CnB, Mu||Unsuitable due to high water table|
|OlC, LaC||Potentially suitable for in-ground systems, subject to percolation testing|
|MoB, MsB, OpB, WlB, WlC, WmB||Unsuitable for in-ground systems due to high water table, but potentially suitable for elevated systems|
4. Geologic Features:
Nuangola Borough is located in the Appalachian Mountain section of the Valley and Ridge Province which is characterized by a series of long, high ridges separated by narrow valleys. The Susquehanna River flows southwestward through the center and drains the entire upper central Susquehanna River subbasin.
According to the State Water Plan, the area is underlain by generally flat-lying rock strata which have been only slightly upwarped in some places. The rock formations form aquifers with distinct hydrologic characteristics. The aquifers beneath the Nuangola Borough area are composed of both unconsolidated and consolidated rock, with glacial outwash being the only unconsolidated material. Water occurs in the pore spaces of the unconsolidated materials, and in fractures, bedding planes and solution openings in the consolidated rock. The more and the larger the saturated openings penetrated by a well, the higher will be the well yield.
Glacial outwash deposits consisting of soil and rock particles deposited by glaciers are porous and, where saturated, will yield moderate to very large quantities of groundwater. Outwash partly fills the Susquehanna Valley. At many places the outwash deposits are known to be several hundred feet thick. Well yields in excess of 200 gallons per minute are considered in the State Water Plan as not uncommon. The quality of the water is excellent. The water is soft and contains small amounts of dissolved mineral matter.
Topographic data from the USGS map, Wilkes-Barre West Quadrangle, is included on the soil map, Drawing 2. Drawing 2 also indicates areas potentially suitable for conventional on-lot systems, areas suitable for alternative-type systems, and areas considered unsuitable due to excessive slope or to high water table.
6. Potable water supplies:
According to the State Water Plan, dated December, 1978,
a survey of area wells yielded the following data:
While this data is mostly from public and industrial water supply wells, it does suggest that in areas of sparse population density, seasonal occupancies and lack of industrial or large agricultural water users there will be adequate ground water supplies available for area residential users indefinitely.
With reference to National Wetlands Inventory Mapping,
Wilkes-Barre West Map, there are sixteen designated wetland areas located
partially or totally within Nuangola Borough, including Nuangola Lake itself.
The wetlands are shown on Drawing 2, and are classified as follows:
|LIOWH||Lacustrine, limnetic, open water, permanent|
|PFOIE||Palustrine, forested, broad leaf deciduous, seasonally saturated|
|PFOI/4E||Palustrine, forested, broad leaf deciduous/needle leaf evergreen, seasonally saturated|
|PFO4E||Palustrine, forested, needle leaf evergreen, seasonally saturated|
|PFO/SS1Eh||Palustrine, forested/scrub-shrub, broad leaf deciduous, seasonally saturated, diked/impounded|
|PSSIE||Palustrine, scrub/shrub, broad leaf deciduous, seasonally saturated|
|PSSIEh||Palustrine, scrub/shrub, broad leaf deciduous, seasonally saturated, diked/impounded|
|PSSI/3E||Palustrine, scrub/shrub, broad leaf deciduous/broad leaf evergreen, seasonally saturated|
|POWZh||Palustrine, open water, intermittently exposed/permanent, diked/impounded|
|PFOIEh||Palustrine, forested, broad leaf deciduous, seasonally saturated, diked/impounded|
Due to their extent, these wetlands constitute an important source of groundwater recharge. The study area also includes two soil series, the Chippewa series (ClA, CnB) and Muck (Mu) which are listed as hydric soils in Pennsylvania.
The National Wetlands Inventory Mapping is intended only to be informational in nature, and it should not be used to define the limits or extent of wetland areas. Federal, state and local regulatory agencies with jurisdiction over wetlands may define and describe them differently than the criteria used to produce this mapping.
Property owners or municipalities intending to engage in activities involving construction or alteration within or adjacent to wetland areas must contact the appropriate regulatory agency whose jurisdiction extends to the affected area. Wetland encroachments are regulated by DEP Chapter 105, Dam Safety and Waterway Management, which was adopted in accordance with the Dam Safety and Encroachments Act.
III. EXISTING SEWAGE FACILITIES IN THE PLANNING AREA
A. Identify, map and describe municipal and non-municipal, individual and community sewage systems in the planning area, including:
1. Location, size and ownership of collection and treatment facilities and pumping stations:
Other than individual on-lot systems, there are no existing sewage facilities in the planning area. Those described below are nearby but outside the corporate limits of Nuangola Borough.
Crestwood School District operates a package wastewater treatment plant on Church Road in Rice Township, which serves the Rice Township Elementary School. The plant has a capacity of 11,000 gpd and discharges to Little Wapwallopen Creek via Turner Swamp. Its effluent requirements and recent performance are given in Exhibit 2.
Wilbar Realty operates a second package wastewater treatment plant which, serves 176 homes in the Laurel Lake Village residential development in Rice Township. The plant has a capacity of 87,500 gpd and discharges to Little Wapwallopen Creek via Nuangola outlet. Its effluent requirements and recent performance are given in Exhibit 3.
Mountaintop Area Joint Sanitary Authority (MAJSA) operates a regional wastewater treatment facility serving portions of Wright, Rice and Fairview Townships. This facility is located approximately 2.5 miles from Nuangola Borough and has a capacity, following a recent expansion, of 4.16 mgd with discharge to Big Wapwallopen Creek. Its effluent requirements and recent performance are summarized in Exhibit 4.
Sewers extend from the MAJSA facility northward to the I-81 southbound rest area, where a sewage pumping station is located. A second sewer extends northward on the opposite (eastern) side of I-81 to serve the developed residential area around the ice ponds.
2. A narrative of the facilities’ basic treatment processes including NPDES permitted capacity and Clean Streams Law permit number.
The Rice Township Elementary School plant discharges under Permit No. PA-0060941 (expires November 30, 2004). It has a permitted capacity of 11,000 gpd and an average daily flow of 2,300 gpd. Its highest recent monthly average daily flow was 3,300 gpd in January, 2001. The process consists of one extended aeration tank with secondary clarifier, sludge storage tank and disinfection.
The Laurel Lake Village plant was constructed under Water Quality Management Part II Permit No. 4072416 and discharges under Permit No. PA-0060593 (expires May 31, 2004). It has a permitted capacity of 87,500 gpd and an average daily flow of 71,000 gpd. Its highest recent monthly average daily flow was 84,000 gpd in February, 2000. The treatment process includes pre-treatment, duplex extended aeration tanks and secondary clarifiers in parallel, sludge storage and disinfection.
The MAJSA facility discharges under Permit No. PA-0045985. It has a permitted capacity of 4.16 mgd and an annual average daily flow over the past several years of 2.5 mgd. Its maximum 3-month average daily flow was 3.12 mgd, and it is projected to have an annual average daily flow of 2.73 mgd in 2006. The facility currently serves 4,134 customers, which is projected to increase to 4,519 in 2006. Its permitted organic loading is 5,700 lbs. BOD5, and it is expected to receive 2,617 lbs. BOD5 in 2006.
3. A description of problems with existing facilities, including overloads or NPDES permit violations.
A DEP file review did not reveal any operational problems or permit violations at the Rice Township Elementary School plant. A similar review indicated that during the late 1990s, there were some minor maintenance issues raised by DEP inspectors visiting the Laurel Lake Village plant. This plant also had periodic effluent quality violations, almost always for low dissolved oxygen concentration. A file review was not conducted for the MAJSA facility, but discussions with the executive director indicated that there are no outstanding operational or maintenance issues, and that the plant consistently meets its effluent requirements.
4. Details of scheduled or in-progress upgrading or expansion of treatment facilities; reserve capacity, and the policy concerning allocation of reserve capacity.
Expansion of the MAJSA facility from 2.5 mgd capacity to 4.16 mgd is now complete. If the Annual Wasteload Management Report for 2006 remains accurate, there will be 1.43 mgd of excess treatment capacity in the plant at that time. The two package wastewater treatment plants in the vicinity have no plans for expansion and negligible excess capacity.
The Mountaintop Area Joint Sanitary Authority currently charges a $650 per EDU connection fee and a $50 inspection fee per new customer. The Authority is willing to accept new connections from area municipalities, which can choose either to become members of the Authority or customers of it. Annual sewer rental fees per EDU are currently $275.
The sewage pumping station at the I-81 rest area, which would be the closest point of connection to the MAJSA system from Nuangola, was constructed in 1981-82 and has duplex suction lift pumps discharging into a 4-inch diameter force main. Although the station is structurally sound, the pumps themselves would need to be replaced with larger units to accommodate a significant increase in flow. The size of the discharge force main might need to be increased also.
5. A detailed description of operation and maintenance requirements of the municipality for on-lot systems and the status of past and present compliance with requirements of sewage management programs.
Nuangola Borough has not previously developed requirements for operation or maintenance of its on-lot sewage disposal systems. Maintenance, including tank pumping, is left to the discretion of the property owner. Malfunctioning sewage systems, complaints and property owner-initiated repairs are handled by the Sewage Enforcement Officer.
6. Disposal areas.
There have been no stream discharge (NPDES) permits issued within Nuangola Borough, and all treated effluent from individual home sewage systems is disposed of in-ground.
B. Identify, map and describe areas that utilize individual and community on-lot sewage disposal and retaining tank systems in the planning area, including:
1. Types of systems in use:
Generally speaking, in-ground sewage disposal system technologies are in use throughout the Borough, although newly developed properties have constructed elevated systems. The majority of the in-ground systems were constructed prior to 1970 and were not permitted. The data summarized below were gathered during the period from May 14 - 18, 2001 by the Borough Sewage Enforcement Officer and by five members of the PA DEP Water Management Program.
According to DEP records, there were 382 developed properties
in the study area and 138 sewage system surveys were performed on them,
a coverage rate of 36.1 percent. At this time of year, the majority
of sewage systems surveyed were those serving year-round residences, since
many of the seasonally occupied homes are not yet opened, or are only opened
on weekends. Besides denoting the number and location of the developed
properties in the Borough, and whether it is believed each is a seasonally
occupied home or one capable of year-round occupancy, Drawing 4 also indicates
the location and distribution of each developed property whose sewage system
was surveyed. The following table gives the frequency of occurrence
of each type of sewage system component in use, to the extent that they
could be located and identified:
|Disposal Bed or Trenches||
|Drywell for Graywater||
|Pipe for Graywater to Ditch or Surface||
|Elevated Sand Mound||
|Rental Portable Toilet||
Three properties were reported to have more than one septic tank serving separate waste streams. One system was reported by a neighbor to discharge to the lake. One property owner had removed a portion of an in-ground disposal trench system for installation of a swimming pool.
2. A sanitary survey with a description of documented and potential public health pollution and operational problems with the systems.
The sanitary survey performed by DEP representatives identified a total of 27 malfunctioning systems out of 138 surveyed, a failure rate of 19.6 percent. Information on the survey forms indicated that 58 of the 138 properties, or 42 percent, cannot meet the current potable water supply horizontal isolation distance standards.
The 27 malfunctioning systems noted can be located by area
as follows: nine (33 percent) were on the southeast side of Nuangola
Road; eight (30 percent) were located in the southwest of the Borough,
between Gay Ave./Ridge St. to the north and Nuangola Road to the south;
four (15 percent) were located between Lake Ave., Nuangola Road, Gay Ave.
and End St.; another four (15 percent) were in the area bounded by Willow
Grove St., Nuangola Road and Lake Street; two (7 percent) were located
to the south and east of the lake, between End St., Ridge St. and the Rice
Township line. The sixth area surveyed, to the north of Willow Grove
St., contained no malfunctioning systems. Below is a summary of the
types of malfunctions reported in the sanitary survey (at some properties
more than one condition was evident):
|Lush green grass||
|Wetness or spongy areas||
|Water ponding or surfacing||
|Sewage backing up into the home||
One property was observed to have a septic tank with the top deteriorated and fallen in; a second property was reported to no longer be able to use their washing machine due to the condition of their sewage disposal system.
Many of the system malfunctions appear to have been caused by the age and/or condition of system components, by the use of in-ground disposal systems in areas of slow soil permeability or high water table, by small lot sizes which leave little room to expand or replace the system, or by precipitation runoff flowing onto the disposal area. Some disposal systems are further stressed as seasonal homes are converted to year-round use, or by construction of additions to homes to accommodate larger numbers of family members or guests. Another source of stress occurs when septic tanks are not pumped regularly.
In a total of 95 of the systems surveyed, the approximate
age of the disposal system could be determined. The range in age
was from one to eighty years; the average system age was 28 years.
The following table summarizes system age data obtained:
The sanitary survey also investigated the frequency in
which homeowners had had their septic tanks pumped. This data was
available for 110 of the 138 systems surveyed. In general, the frequency
of tank pumping is greater than the planning consultants normally see in
surveys of this kind, which suggests that homeowners are aware of the fragility
of many of the sewage systems and are actively taking steps to keep malfunctions
from occurring. The following table summarizes septic tank pumping
frequency from the sanitary survey:
The sanitary survey included data on the history and frequency of past
sewage system repairs in the Borough. Thirty-four systems are known
to have been repaired, some more than once. Few of the repairs are
believed to have been permitted. It should be noted that if separate
graywater systems were not in use at 26 of the homes surveyed, the numbers
of malfunctioning systems and system repairs would likely be higher.
The following table summarizes system repair data:
Besides these repairs, one homeowner attempted to obtain permission to replace his sewage system with a holding tank.
3. A comparison of the types of on-lot sewage systems installed in the area with the types of systems which are appropriate to the area.
Summarizing data presented earlier, the sewage system survey identified a total of 84 subsurface systems (61 percent of the properties surveyed) and 20 elevated systems (14 percent); the remaining 25 percent of properties surveyed either had other types of systems, or their system could not be located or identified. It is likely that most of the unidentified systems are sub-surface systems, which could raise the percentage of subsurface systems in the systems surveyed to as high as 80 percent. Assuming that the percentage of occurrence of these two types of systems among the properties surveyed is representative of the Borough as a whole, then there could be as many as 311 subsurface and 54 elevated systems currently in use.
Comparing the soil suitability table for subsurface sewage disposal systems on Drawing 3 to the soil type actually mapped on each developed property indicates that approximately 58 properties may have soils suitable for subsurface systems; 224 properties may have soils suitable for elevated systems; and 107 currently developed properties may have unsuitable soils for on-lot sewage disposal systems. It must be understood that these figures are only as accurate as is the mapping in the Soil Survey of Luzerne County, the source for the soil occurrence mapping on Drawings 2 and 3. Complete accuracy could be achieved only by excavating test pits and performing percolation testing on each developed property. However, the results of the sanitary survey do suggest that many more subsurface sewage disposal systems exist in the Borough than would be allowed by current regulations.
Most recent new construction, as well as the newly installed replacement systems, has utilized elevated systems, which can be considered on soils with seasonal high water table; but they should not be considered for sites with steep slopes. Site investigations must be made to determine if there is a minimum of 20 inches of undisturbed suitable soil of sufficient area for the elevated system at a slope of 12 percent or less. Due to the size and slope of many of the subdivided lots in the Borough, these limitations alone will eliminate many properties from being developed with elevated systems; and they will eliminate many already-developed properties from using elevated systems as replacements for failed subsurface systems.
4. Conduct an individual well water survey to identify possible sources of contamination by malfunctioning on-lot sewage disposal systems.
Sampling of individual drinking water wells in Nuangola Borough was performed on six dates between May 19 and July 29, 2001 by Joseph F. Calabro, PhD of Aqua-Tech Laboratory. Aqua-Tech is a Pennsylvania state certified laboratory for drinking water analysis, and has been issued ID No. 40-113. A total of 212 samples were collected (54 percent coverage) and analyzed for total coliform and fecal coliform bacteria. Coliform bacteria were detected in 61 of the samples (28.8 percent) and 36 of the 61 samples were fecal positive (17 percent of all wells sampled). Of all samples in which coliform bacteria were detected, 59 percent were also fecal positive.
The property owners of all wells with coliform contamination were contacted by telephone within five days of sample collection and were given recommendations for disinfection. Because Nuangola Borough Council made a pledge of confidentiality with residents prior to the well testing program, specific details concerning the locations of the wells tested and the locations of contaminated wells were not made available to the preparers of this Sewage Plan.
The sanitary survey conducted by DEP and the Borough Sewage Enforcement Officer also yielded data on the private drinking water wells in the Borough. Well depth was known at 84 properties and ranged from 30 to 475 feet; the average well depth was 205 feet. Five more properties reported having dug wells. Well distance from the sewage disposal field ranged from 8 to 225 feet; the average separation distance was 80 feet. In 58 instances (42 percent), the properties surveyed cannot meet the current public water supply regulations for horizontal isolation of wells from sewage disposal systems, which is 100 feet.
A total of 28 property owners reported using some form of individual home water treatment system, including softeners (10), disinfection (9), filtration (7) and iron removal (2). Previous well testing for coliform contamination was reported by 68 homeowners; some indicated having tested their water supply on more than one occasion. One homeowner reported testing annually and another tested on a quarterly basis. Previous instances of coliform contamination was reported in 16 wells, one well showed indication of surface water influence and 4 wells had high concentrations of iron. Two property owners reported having two wells each on their properties.
C. Identify wastewater sludge and septage generation, transport and disposal methods, including:
1. Location and sources of wastewater sludge and septage.
There are no wastewater treatment plants in the Borough, so the amount of sludge currently generated is none. Each developed property is a source of septage from pumping out its septic tank.
2. Quantities of the types of sludge or septage generated.
If each developed property pumps its septic tank on an average of once every three years, then it can be estimated that approximately 130,000 gallons of septage could be generated annually in Nuangola Borough due to tank pumping.
3. Present disposal methods, locations, capacities and transportation methods.
Nuangola Borough has the authority to enact ordinances regulating septage disposal, but currently the Borough does not regulate this activity and does not have a septage disposal ordinance in effect. Borough residents individually hire the septic tank pumping service of their choice for periodic cleaning. Each pumping company disposes of septage in locations which it has established.
D. Identify, map and describe areas where unpermitted collection and disposal systems are in use.
There are no known wildcat sewers, borehole disposal sites, etc., within Nuangola Borough. As noted previously, one property in the sanitary survey was reported to have a discharge line from its sewage disposal system into the lake.
IV. FUTURE GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
A. Delineate and describe the following through map, text and analysis:
1. Areas with existing development or plotted subdivisions:
Nuangola Borough Planning Commission records of recent subdivision activity could not be located. New developments appear to include: Elizabeth Place (10 lots/1 home); Highfield Street (9 lots/8 homes); Timchula Drive (8 lots/0 homes); and Northend Road (4 large lots/0 homes).
A recently proposed subdivision, Woodland Acres, by the Earth Conservancy, Inc. has just been approved in December, 2002. The property is located between Willow Grove Street and Northend Road and would consist of 14 lots, 13 for residential development and one with wetlands, which is being dedicated to Nuangola Borough.
2. Land use designations established under the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code.
Nuangola Borough has made use of the Planning Code to establish four zoning districts as per the map in Exhibit 1. The designations and their purposes are:
• C-1 Conservation District: “ . . . to protect mountainous areas and watersheds, areas of rugged terrain, wetlands, and areas not needed for more intensive development for the foreseeable future from inappropriate or untimely development.”
• R-1 Residence District: “ . . . to protect newer, existing and future residential areas.”
• R-2 Residence District: “ . . . to protect existing residential areas and to provide additional land for such areas.”
• B-1 Business District: “ . . . to provide the type of commercial facilities which supply convenience goods and services to the residents.”
There are currently no areas in Nuangola Borough designated for larger than two-family residential dwellings or for industrial development.
The Borough currently has no sewage planning documents, so there can be no conflict between land uses allowed by zoning and existing sewage facility planning. The Borough’s Zoning Ordinance was adopted in 1996 and reflects in its establishment of districts types of development prevalent in each area at that time. Since subdivision and land development occurs very slowly due to the shortage of available land remaining, the Zoning Ordinance has imposed very little regulation on new development since its adoption.
3. Future growth areas and population projections for those areas.
Based on mapping from the Luzerne County Assessment Office tax maps, from which Drawing 1 was prepared, there are 730 subdivisions of land recognized in Nuangola Borough; with 389 currently developed. Ninety of the undeveloped lots are owned by adjoiners and are assumed to be unavailable for development, leaving 251 lots, which might be developed provided that some type of sewage system could be approved for the property.
Using data from the Soils and Wetlands Mapping on Drawing 2, it appears that as many as 109 of the subdivided but undeveloped properties are either too small for development (rights-of-way, etc.) or are located on soils unsuitable for on-lot sewage disposal systems due either to excessive slope or high water table. As many as 34 undeveloped lots may contain a soil type potentially suitable for an in-ground type of system; while as many as 94 lots may contain soils potentially suitable for an elevated system. If these figures are borne out by soil investigation and testing on each of the lots, then there are some 128 permitted lots, plus 13 lots in the proposed Woodland Acres development, that could be developed (exclusive of the 90 undeveloped lots owned by adjoiners).
Nuangola Borough’s population peaked at 726 persons in the 1980 Census, then declined 4.5 percent to 701 persons in 1990 and further declined 4.3 percent to 671 persons in 2000. During the same period, Luzerne County’s population loss was 2.7 percent from 1990 to 2000, and 4.4 percent from 1980 to 1990. These trends do not suggest that Nuangola Borough’s population will return to 1980 levels within the ten- year planning period.
4. Zoning and subdivision regulations; local, county or regional comprehensive plans; and existing plans of a commonwealth agency relating to the development, use and protection of land and water resources.
The Borough’s current Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance regulations and Zoning regulations have been summarized in Section I.B of this report as they relate to development limitations and sewage disposal methods. Special protections for surface water supplies and recreational water use areas (i.e., Lake Nuangola) can be found in Section 607 of the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance:
• Section 607.1.a: “Erosion and Sedimentation Control Plan Required: No changes shall be made in the contour of the land; no grading, excavating, removal or destruction to the topsoil, trees or other vegetative cover of the land shall be commenced until such time that a plan for minimizing erosion and sedimentation has been processed with and reviewed by the Borough Engineer and/or the County Soil and Water Conservation District, or there has been a determination by the above entities that such plans are not necessary.”
Protections for the ground water supply are located in the same ordinance:
• Section 610.1.c: “New subdivision land development shall provide for a reliable, safe and adequate water supply to support intended uses within the capacity of available resources. Evidence, such as a water survey, shall be presented to the Planning Commission to show that water supplied to the proposed subdivision or development, whether by a central system or by on-lot wells, will not diminish the supply to existing nearby development.”
• Section 610.2.c: “Central water systems and individual wells shall be designed and constructed according to applicable construction standards of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources, Bureau of Water Quality Management, ‘Public Water Supply Manual,’ latest edition . . . Proof that the Department of Environmental Resources construction standards have been followed shall be submitted to the Planning Commission.”
Wetlands are given some protection by the erosion and sedimentation controls described above, as well as in the Zoning Ordinance:
• Section 803.11: “Wetlands: No structure shall be erected within thirty-five (35) feet of the edge of a wetland determined by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources or by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, except as permitted by those agencies.”
No specific regulations are found among these or other Borough ordinances to protect groundwater recharge areas or to address industrial water use.
5. Sewage planning to provide adequate wastewater treatment for the municipality, related to both the five and ten-year planning periods and based on growth impacts on existing and proposed wastewater collection and treatment facilities.
Census data for 2000 indicate that there are 2.6 persons per household in Nuangola Borough.
A maximum 10-year growth projection for the Borough, one which substantially reverses the population growth pattern of the past 20 years, would be for Borough population to return to the 1980 Census level of 726 persons. To achieve this increase of 55 persons, there would need to be a net gain of 21 new households at 2.6 persons each, or approximately two new households per year. The same formula can be applied to a five-year maximum growth projection, resulting in an increase of some 26 persons.
Because of the Borough’s recent negative growth, and the absence of any discernible factors likely to cause a spurt of new growth, it can be concluded that sewage planning to provide for future growth is unimportant compared to the sewage planning that must take place to address the Borough’s existing problems with malfunctioning sewage systems and contaminated drinking water wells.
V. ALTERNATIVES TO PROVIDE NEW OR IMPROVED WASTEWATER DISPOSAL FACILITIES
A. Conventional collection, conveyance, treatment and discharge alternatives:
1. Regional wastewater treatment.
Regional wastewater treatment concepts can be considered for Nuangola Borough due to the presence of the MAJSA facility, which has sufficient excess hydraulic and organic treatment capacity currently available. The Authority has a history of consistently meeting its effluent requirements and of providing good service to its member municipalities. Additional sewage flow from Nuangola Borough could be accepted without modification to the treatment process or equipment, which could result in further economies of scale benefiting all system users.
2. The potential for extension of existing municipal or non-municipal facilities to areas of need.
The existing privately-owned and operated sewage collection system serving Laurel Lake Village could be extended to Nuangola Borough, but a sewage collection system would still be required within the Borough and the sewage treatment plant has insufficient excess capacity. The planning consultants developed a Feasibility Study for a comprehensive Borough sewer project in November, 1992 and concluded that the existing Laurel Lake facility would need to be more than doubled in size to serve Nuangola’s needs. A change in treatment process from extended aeration to sequencing batch reactor was considered necessary, if this treatment facility were to be used, to accommodate an anticipated more stringent effluent requirement for ammonia. Additional treatment equipment would have been required due to the anticipated imposition of an effluent limit on phosphorus; and a portion of the existing low-pressure sewer system in Laurel Lake Village would need to be enlarged to handle increased flow.
The plant is owned by Wilbar Realty Water and Sewer Company, which is receiving protection from its creditors under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Law. Because of uncertainties surrounding the status of the company, this alternative is not being given further consideration.
3. The potential for the continued use of existing municipal or non-municipal sewage facilities.
Other than as mentioned in Paragraphs 1 and 2 above, there are no existing sewage facilities in or nearby to Nuangola Borough that could be considered for use by upgrading or repair, or by reduction of hydraulic or organic loading, improved operation and maintenance or other appropriate actions.
4. The need for construction of new community sewage systems.
Providing one or more new community on-lot sewage disposal systems to alleviate the Borough’s problems with existing malfunctioning systems and well contamination is not a feasible alternative. It has been demonstrated that soils, slopes and water table in and around Nuangola Borough are generally not suitable for this sewage disposal alternative. There is no single concentrated area of sewage problems in the Borough, so a comprehensive sewage collection network would still be required to address all of the malfunctioning systems. The Borough also does not have within its borders an acceptable location for such a community system.
Likewise, construction of a new, independent wastewater treatment plant cannot be justified due to the presence of the MAJSA regional facility and the excess capacity available in it. It would strain the resources of Borough Council personnel to take on the additional responsibilities of administering the operation and maintenance of a wastewater treatment plant; and it may be difficult in the Borough’s limited population base to find qualified and willing individuals for the task who are not already serving on Council or on the Planning Commission.
5. Repair or replacement of collection and conveyance system components.
Since there is no existing sewage collection and conveyance infrastructure in the Borough, this alternative is of limited use. The MAJSA sewage pumping station serving the I-81 southbound rest area, and the force main downstream from it to the gravity sewer connection point along Prospect Road, could be upgraded and enlarged to accept the additional wastewater flow. It is believed that the casing pipe for the force main beneath I-81 is large enough to accept a 6-inch diameter carrier pipe in place of the existing 4-inch main, if necessary, which could allow an increase in carrying capacity to occur without additional boring. It may also be possible to convey the increased sewage flow by substituting higher horsepower, higher capacity pumps while leaving the existing force main intact.
6. Use of innovative/alternative methods of collection to serve areas of need.
Grinder pumps and low pressure sewers are considered an innovative and alternative technology and would likely be the sewage collection alternative of choice in this application due to the topography of the area and to the high water table near the lake and shallow depth to bedrock elsewhere.
B. The use of individual sewage disposal systems including individual residential spray irrigation systems.
Developed properties in Nuangola Borough are much too small, and are often located on slopes too steep or in close proximity to wetlands, for consideration of individual spray irrigation systems.
Individual home sewage disposal systems have been used with mixed results in Nuangola Borough. When representatives of the DEP and the Sewage Enforcement Officer (SEO) inspected 138 systems in 2001, 27 of them were found to be malfunctioning (19.6 percent). Due to the small lot sizes in the older areas of the Borough, DEP also found that an additional 58 of the 138 properties (42 percent) could not meet the current potable water supply requirements for separation distance of their well from the sewage system on their own or on a neighboring property.
In Section III.B.3, data was presented to indicate that approximately 107 of 389 currently developed properties (28 percent) are located on soil types mapped as unsuitable (subject to on-lot soil testing) for in-ground disposal of sewage system effluent. In Section IV.A.3, similar data indicated that approximately 109 of 251 properties believed available for development (43 percent) are also located on soil types mapped as unsuitable. Many of the currently undeveloped lots would have difficulty obtaining the minimum separation distances required from sewage systems due to their small sizes.
As the SEO reviewed the list of 27 sewage systems that were identified as malfunctioning, he was able to propose repairs or upgrading to address certain of those instances. Particularly, he recommended regrading above one disposal field site to channel precipitation runoff away from it. Other repairs proposed by the SEO included septic tank pumping, removing a blockage from septic tank discharge piping and increasing the size of the disposal field. Each of these solutions is a commonly practiced one which is likely to correct the problem encountered, at least temporarily.
The SEO and DEP investigators also found a number of graywater discharges to a drywell or to the surface, which are considered malfunctions. The graywater was probably removed from the home’s sanitary piping and rerouted to a surface discharge when too much wastewater from the home was being generated for the permeability of the soil to accept. The SEO believes that graywater discharge malfunctions can be eliminated by directing the homeowners to re-route all of their graywater back through the sewage disposal systems. The sewage plan preparers believe that this remedy will simply overload the sewage system once again and that another malfunction will soon occur. Correspondence from the SEO on this issue is included in Appendix 2.
Reviewing the homeowner sewage system survey data in Section III.B.2 indicates that existing sewage systems range in age from one to eighty years, with an average age of 29 years. The same survey reported the frequency in which homeowners had pumped their septic tanks: 67 of 110 homeowners answering this question (61 percent) stated once every three years or sooner; 20 had a history of pumping their tanks at least annually. This overall frequency is greater than normally practiced in area communities, and it suggests that establishment of a municipally operated sewage management program would not be an adequate response to the Borough’s sewage malfunctions.
It is also doubtful that the mandated use of water conservation devices would eliminate the sewage problems. A significant number of the homes are currently occupied only seasonally or intermittently, which serves to reduce hydraulic loading to the disposal system more than water conservation practices could do. Other homeowners, those who are conscientious about pumping their septic tanks frequently, are likely to be practicing water conservation already. Several homeowners have indicated that they are no longer using the washing machines in their homes to reduce stress on their sewage systems.
The repair, replacement or upgrading of existing malfunctioning systems in areas suitable for in-ground disposal is therefore not a recommended alternative. Most of the already-developed properties do not contain enough additional land area for construction of an expanded absorption area, or for a second absorption area to alternate with the existing one. Many of those properties that do have sufficient land area for additional absorption are limited by other requirements of Chapter 73 relating to soil type, slope, depth to bedrock or depth to water table restrictions. Since this alternative cannot provide a comprehensive and long-term solution to Nuangola Borough’s sewage problems, it is not recommended except if necessary on an interim basis until more permanent sewage facilities are available.
C. The use of small flow or package sewage treatment facilities to serve individual homes or clusters of homes.
Small flow or package wastewater treatment facilities to serve individual homes or clusters of homes are not considered appropriate due to the widespread nature of the existing sewage problems in the Borough. In the DEP sewage system survey, the number of malfunctions identified by subarea studied is as follows: Area 1 = 9 malfunctions; Area 2 = 8; Area 3 = 2; Area 4 = 4; Area 5 = 4; and Area 6 = 0.
Each package system would need to be located on a site acquired by the Borough, with a separate power supply and stream discharge location. It is often a divisive issue to a community to site a wastewater treatment facility, even a small one, in a developed residential area. If one small flow system per subarea is assumed, then a total of five would be needed to address existing needs, each with its own discharge permit and monthly sampling and reporting requirements. Discharge streams would be difficult and costly to access because of their distance from the treatment systems, presuming that the aesthetically unattractive alternative of discharging treated effluent into Nuangola Lake is not considered. Numerous small flow treatment systems have the limitation of not having much excess capacity to accept new connections if other on-lot systems nearby to them were to fail in the future; and they would be contrary to DEP’s objective of reducing the number of surface discharge permits issued and to its policy of regionalization of sewage treatment facilities. A more cost-effective solution would be to develop one comprehensive wastewater treatment alternative, sized to serve the entire Borough, so that there would be no unnecessary duplication of facilities, and so that economies of scale could begin to exert an influence to keep operating costs down.
D. The use of community land disposal alternatives.
The use of community land sewage treatment and disposal alternatives is not considered practical in Nuangola Borough. There is no location or combination of locations in the Borough of sufficient size with suitable soils for this alternative; and the planning consultants believe that proposing a location for the system within a neighboring municipality would arouse considerable opposition there from residents and municipal officials alike. The Soil Survey of Luzerne County does not indicate any promising areas of soil with good permeability located within reasonable conveyance distance from Nuangola.
E. The use of retaining tank alternatives.
The continued and expanded use of retaining tanks is not appropriate
in this application. According to DEP Chapter 71.63(c), retaining
tanks require regular service and maintenance to prevent their malfunction
and overflow; and they shall be used in lieu of other methods of sewage
disposal only when the current Municipal Sewage Plan Update indicates the
use of retaining tanks in a given lot or area, as well as provides for
their replacement by adequate sewage services in accordance with a schedule
approved by DEP. Although one or more holding tanks are currently
in service in the Borough, they were not installed as an interim measure
pending completion of central sewage facilities already in planning.
Even though there are designated septage disposal sites available nearby,
the expanded use of holding tanks without a definite and approved schedule
for replacing them by sewage facilities, would be prohibitively costly
and cannot be justified.
F. Discuss the need for and implementation of a sewage management program to assure the future operation and maintenance of existing and proposed sewage facilities.
A sewage management program to assure the future operation and maintenance of on-lot sewage disposal facilities in the Borough cannot be recommended. A sewage management program is an effective strategy to replace homeowner inattention or negligence in maintaining his sewage system when soil permeability rates are acceptable. In this case, however, it has been demonstrated that homeowners are already pumping their septic tanks at or sooner than the recommended intervals. Tank pumping cannot entirely reverse the effects of soils that are unsuitable or only marginally suitable for in-ground disposal of septic tank effluent due to high water table or poor permeability.
Because of the unsuitability of in-ground sewage systems to the soil types they are located on, and to the age and condition of those existing systems, it is not likely that a management program would result in noticeable improvements in system performance. In-ground systems are the focus of this discussion because the majority of existing systems are of this type. Most lots could not accommodate elevated systems as replacements due to lot size and/or slope.
Requiring regularly scheduled pumping of septic tanks would certainly reduce stress on the disposal fields; but it would require a location for disposal of a significantly larger volume of septage. An on-lot sewage management ordinance could be developed that would require regularly-scheduled inspections of each system as well as proper operation and/or maintenance to eliminate malfunctioning systems, with the associated costs to be borne by the homeowners; but there are certain areas, particularly the older homes nearer the lake with high water table or shallow depth to bedrock, where options to deal with identified system problems are clearly limited. Therefore, a sewage management program and ordinance might provide more a false sense of security than a real solution to dealing with the sewage problems that the Borough is now experiencing.
G. Non-structural comprehensive planning alternatives that can be undertaken to assist in meeting existing and future sewage disposal needs.
Non-structural comprehensive planning alternatives in general cannot be of much help to Nuangola Borough to address its existing on-lot sewage system problems. The Borough has already enacted subdivision and land development, and zoning ordinances. Revising them now to alter land development or land use designations would not be effective tools since there are now so few subdivisions of land taking place, and since there is so little land remaining for development that has not already been subdivided. Although development and population density do contribute to present sewage problems, Nuangola’s sewage needs arise largely from pre-existing conditions and cannot be effectively corrected by imposing more stringent regulations on future development. Many of the on-lot sewage systems have failed simply due to their age, or to their being of antiquated technology or inappropriate to the soils or groundwater conditions. Therefore, adoption of new or more restrictive ordinances and regulations, or an improved enforcement effort, cannot be relied upon to put an end to the malfunctions.
Increased levels of protection for new drinking water sources may be useful when applied to new development in the area, because it appears that some sewage disposal system effluent may be migrating laterally through the ground until it encounters a well and entering the water supply by that route. Developing deeper wells and extending the well casing firmly into bedrock are methods that could be employed for increased protection.
The Borough may benefit in the short term by providing for increased training for its Sewage Enforcement Officer. Since some problem areas in the Borough have numerous constraints on types of sewage system repairs that could be applied to them, it would be beneficial that the SEO have exposure to the results of current research and experimentation in sewage system maintenance and repair technologies.
H. The no-action alternative.
The no-action alternative, that is to continue for the planning period to rely on existing in-ground sewage disposal methods and on previous repair and maintenance programs, cannot be recommended for the multiple adverse effects it would create. According to Comprehensive Water Quality Management Plan data of February, 1983, Table XIII-5 (in Appendix 1 of this report), water quality in Lake Nuangola is being compromised by non-point-source pollution migrating from failed or improperly applied sewage systems located in close proximity to it. This in turn diminishes the water-based recreational opportunities available.
It has been established by the DEP sewage system inspection program that 19.6 percent of the systems tested were malfunctioning; that 61 of the water samples taken (28.8 percent) tested positive for total coliform contamination; and that 36 of the samples also tested positive for fecal coliform. These conditions can lead to outbreaks of water-borne diseases, such as typhoid, cholera and dysentery, if they are not eliminated.
It is also true that within an area where environmental problems such as sewage problems persist, a general decay of the area will intensify over time. There is little incentive for homeowners to make improvements to their properties. Making substantial investments to properties where a return on the investment is unlikely to occur will limit improvements being made, resulting in overall decline. Taking positive steps to solve the sewage system problems would ensure that such a decline does not occur in Nuangola Borough, and that property values increase.
Adoption of the no-action alternative would thus have an adverse impact on surface and groundwater quality, public health, growth potential, community economic conditions and recreational opportunities.
VI. EVALUATION OF ALTERNATIVES
A. Technically feasible alternatives identified in Section V must be evaluated for consistency with other programs of the Commonwealth and its agencies.
The only technically feasible alternatives which can be recommended as offering comprehensive and long-term solutions to the sewage problems are: regional wastewater treatment, including repair and replacement of some existing sewage system components, and the use of innovative and alternative technologies for sewage collection. Specifically, these alternatives are: collection of sewage using grinder pumps and low- pressure sewers; conveyance of sewage to the MAJSA facility for treatment; and upgrading the pumping station at the I-81 southbound rest area. Only these alternatives will be evaluated for consistency with other programs and agency initiatives in this section of the Sewage Plan.
1. Applicable plans developed and approved under Sections 4 and 5 of the Clean Streams Law or Section 208 of the Clean Water Act.
Sections 4 and 5 of the Clean Streams Law require that consideration be given to: water quality management and pollution control in a watershed as a whole, present and possible future uses of particular waters, the feasibility of combined or joint facilities, the state of scientific and technical knowledge, and immediate and long-range economic impact on the Commonwealth and its citizens. Section 208 of the Clean Water Act calls for the development of plans for the identification of treatment works necessary to meet the anticipated municipal and industrial waste treatment needs of an area over a 20-year period. This would include any requirements for the acquisition of land for treatment purposes, the necessary wastewater collection and urban stormwater runoff systems, programs to provide the necessary financial arrangements for the development of such treatment works, an identification of open space and recreational opportunities that can be expected to result from improved water quality, consideration of potential use of lands associated with treatment works and increased access to water-based recreation.
Nothing enumerated above stands out in conflict to the acquisition and use of available excess treatment capacity in the MAJSA facility, which already serves as a regional wastewater treatment plant. The proposed additional service area would not cover an entire watershed, and it would not be cost-effective to do so; but the service area would include every developed property within the municipality.
There are no combined storm and sanitary sewers in the Borough, so there is no need to consider a stormwater separation project. Water-based recreational opportunities would be enhanced if sources of sewage disposal system effluent are not tributary to Lake Nuangola.
The Comprehensive Water Quality Management Plan (COWAMP) was developed with reference to Sections 4 and 5 of the Clean Streams Law and to Section 208 of the Clean Water Act. The Plan does not recommend any particular sewage facilities for Nuangola Borough, but it did recommend that the Borough conduct a sewage needs study by 1985. Thus there is no inconsistency between the objectives of this Sewage Plan Update and the COWAMP plan.
2. Municipal wasteload management plans developed under Title 25, Chapter 94.
Recent Annual Wasteload Management Reports developed under Chapter 94 for the MAJSA facility indicate that there is approximately 1.43 mgd of excess capacity, which is projected to remain available through at least the next five years, which could be made available to Nuangola Borough. Therefore no inconsistency exists with any wasteload management planning.
3. Plans developed under Title II of the Clean Water Act or Titles II and VI of the Water Quality Act of 1987.
Plans developed under the Clean Water Act contain information on waste treatment management plans and practices which shall provide for: the application of the best practicable waste treatment technology before discharge into receiving waters, including reclaiming and recycling of water; the confined disposal of pollutants so that they will not migrate to cause water or other environmental pollution; and the consideration of advanced waste treatment techniques.
None of the alternatives under consideration by Nuangola Borough involve construction of new wastewater treatment facilities with discharge to surface waters, and the MAJSA facility underwent an analysis of its proposed wastewater treatment technology prior to its permitting and construction; therefore, the present Borough sewage planning is not in conflict with this legislation.
4. Comprehensive Plans developed under the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code.
The Municipalities Planning Code provides the basis for a municipality to prepare a Comprehensive Plan which includes the municipality’s objectives relative to the location, character and timing of future development, and a plan for community facilities and utilities. This plan may also cover a wide range of related issues including housing, transportation and municipal services. The Comprehensive Plan evaluates the interrelationships of various planning components (development, community facilities and related issues) including an estimate of the environmental, energy conservation, fiscal, economic development and social impacts on the municipality from these components. The plan assesses the relationship of existing and proposed development in the municipality to the existing and proposed development and plans in contiguous municipalities, the countywide objectives, plans for development and regional trends. Finally, the Comprehensive Plan may include a plan for reliable water supply, which considers current and future water resource availability, uses, limitations, and protection of sources.
Nuangola Borough has not developed a municipal comprehensive plan, but the Luzerne County Master Plan for Water Supply and Wastewater Management by Gilbert Associates, Inc. prepared in January, 1973 and adopted by the Borough in Resolutions #73-4 and #73-5 on August 2, 1973 does offer guidance:
“In 1970-71 approximately 68 percent of the total county population was served by waste treatment facilities . . . . While it will not be possible to provide public collection sewers and waste treatment facilities for all of the county population even by the 2020 Horizon Year, the present situation can be greatly improved by extensions from areas that are already sewered or are about to be sewered, or by construction of new independent collection and waste treatment systems. Of the two possibilities mentioned for providing sanitary sewer service, the first will usually be preferable, since a regional system of wastewater collection and treatment results in a more efficient, cheaper, and more reliable system.”
Therefore the alternatives under consideration in this Sewage Plan Update are in agreement with area-wide comprehensive planning.
5. Antidegradation requirements as contained in Title 25, Chapters 93, 95 and 102.
Proposed wastewater treatment alternatives must be consistent with the water quality criteria of Chapter 93 for the various designated uses of the waters of the Commonwealth which apply to any proposed receiving stream’s waters. The alternatives must be consistent with the wastewater treatment requirements of Chapter 95, and must also be consistent with the erosion and sedimentation control regulations contained in Chapter 102.
Section 4 of the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law states, “It is the objective of the Clean Streams Law not only to prevent further pollution of the waters of the Commonwealth, but also to reclaim and restore to a clean, unpolluted condition every stream in Pennsylvania that is presently polluted.” The Federal Clean Water Act sets as a national goal that the discharge of pollutants into all surface streams be eliminated. It further states that water quality standards shall be established to protect the public health or welfare and enhance the quality of water. Such standards are to consider the use and value of water for public water supply, propagation of fish and wildlife, recreation, agriculture, industry and navigation.
In compliance with these laws, DEP has classified all surface waters according to water uses to be protected and water quality criteria which need to be maintained in order to prevent or eliminate pollution. This classification is known as Pennsylvania’s Water Quality Standards. These standards are implemented through the provisions of Chapters 93 and 95 under the Clean Streams Law and the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting process for discharges from wastewater treatment plants into surface waters.
The alternative to extend sewer service from the existing MAJSA infrastructure to Nuangola is consistent with the objectives of Section 4 of the Clean Streams Law, in that it would utilize an existing point of effluent discharge, which is already permitted, rather than construct a new discharge into another stream.
Big Wapwallopen Creek is listed in Chapter 93 as a cold-water fishery. Protected water uses include aquatic life, water supply and recreation. Neither the creek nor its watershed are classified as high quality of exceptional value; therefore, the alternative for Nuangola Borough sewage facilities is consistent with the anti-degradation objectives of Chapter 93 and 95.
When the permit application to construct a sewer extension is submitted to DEP, it will include for review and approval an Erosion and Sediment Control Plan. No construction will be permitted until this plan is approved, so there is no conflict with the regulations in Chapter 102.
6. State water plans developed under the Water Resources Planning Act.
The State Water Plan was developed as a comprehensive management tool to guide the conservation, development and administration of the Commonwealth’s water resources. The content of the Plan may influence the alternative analysis in a sewage facilities plan update. If the State Water Plan identifies either water quantity or quality problems in a wastewater planning area, the municipality must consider these problems during its Evaluation of Alternatives. An alternative using land treatment may be a better alternative than one proposing a stream discharge, for example, in an area where the State Water Plan shows that groundwater quantity problems exist and where recharge of the groundwater is critical. A discharge to the surface waters may, in this case, further deplete groundwater and thus would be inconsistent with the State Water Plan.
The State Water Plan identifies existing or potential water quantity problems based on population projections. The Plan uses these populations to identify projected water supply yield deficiencies and the solutions available to resolve these deficiencies.
Few water suppliers in the State Water Plan Subbasin 5, in which Nuangola is located, were projected to have groundwater yield deficiencies in year 2020. The plan attributes the general sufficiency of groundwater quantity to low population density and the absence of large-volume industrial water users, which is generally true within the municipalities surrounding the Borough.
Water quality in the subbasin is listed as generally good, but the Plan notes that human activities have played the largest role in water quality degradation, primarily from acid mine drainage from abandoned and flooded coal mines.
This analysis indicates that the incremental increase in surface water discharge to Wapwallopen Creek and corresponding decrease in groundwater recharge through in-ground disposal of sewage effluent is insignificant and is mitigated by the elimination of a source of groundwater contamination. Therefore, it is not in conflict with the objectives of The State Water Plan.
7. Pennsylvania prime agricultural land policy.
Pennsylvania Prime Agricultural Land Policy orders and directs the prevention of the irreversible conversion of prime agricultural land to uses that result in its loss as an environmental or essential food production resource. State agencies are also to prohibit the use of state or federal funds from facilitating the conversion of prime agricultural land to other uses when feasible alternatives are available.
The Soil Conservation Service Inventory of Prime Agricultural Soils and Soils of Statewide Importance must be used to assess whether the agricultural land policy applies and whether soils will be adversely impacted. The locations of occurrence of each of these soils within the Nuangola Borough planning area are mapped on Drawing No. 2. One prime farmland soil type and four other soils of statewide importance are listed. Due to the residential character of the Borough and the small lots into which most of it has been subdivided, farming activities are no longer practiced. The largest occurrence of important farmland soils within Borough limits is made up of multiple soil types and is located on lots of different ownership, and consists of approximately 10 acres. Therefore, there is no conflict between the alternatives under consideration and Prime Agricultural Land Policy in Title 4 PA Code, Chapter 7, Subchapter W.
8. County stormwater management plans.
The Pennsylvania Stormwater Management Act of 1978 acknowledges that inadequate management of storm water resulting from development throughout a watershed increases flood flows and velocities, contributes to erosion and sedimentation, overtaxes the carrying capacity of streams and storm sewers, greatly increases the cost of public facilities to carry and control stormwater, undermines floodplain management and flood control efforts in downstream communities, reduces groundwater recharge and threatens public health and safety. The Act requires that each county prepare and adopt a storm water management plan for each watershed located in the county in consultation with the municipalities located in that watershed area. The plans are to address a wide range of hydrologic concerns including an assessment of projected land development patterns in the watershed and the potential impact of runoff quantity, velocity and quality. The plans must also analyze the present and projected development in flood hazard areas and must set criteria and standards for the control of stormwater runoff.
Where stormwater plans are in effect, they may influence the areas of the municipality which are being scheduled for centralized sewer service or other methods of sewage treatment and disposal which would allow growth at high densities. The municipality should closely compare the wastewater facilities alternatives which are proposed in growth areas to the content and recommendations of the stormwater management plan for that area.
Luzerne County is preparing a Stormwater Management Plan for the Wapwallopen Creek watershed; however, to address the concerns of the Stormwater Management Act, it is important to note that much of the developable land within the Borough already has been developed with roads, homes and other impervious surfaces. Relatively little land remains available for development, and the Borough’s land use protection ordinances will regulate that development so that large expanses of impervious surface will not be created in the future. Therefore, a sewage collection project is not likely to result in significantly increased stormwater runoff quantity or velocity.
9. Wetland protection.
Wetlands are areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or groundwater at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions, including swamps, marshes and bogs. Wetlands provide for natural flood control, flow stabilization of streams and rivers, improved water quality and aquifer recharge. When a sewage facilities plan is being developed, each alternative proposed must be evaluated to determine if it will impact any wetland areas. If there is an impact on a wetland from an alternative, the Plan must assess the options available to eliminate this impact.
In the case of Nuangola Borough, known wetland areas from the National Wetlands Inventory Mapping are located on Drawing No. 2, while a potential location of the sewage collection system is shown on Drawing No. 5. The collection system would be constructed through private residential properties and in road rights-of-way, so this construction will not occur in designated wetlands. Any necessary crossings of minor wetlands that are identified in the field and that cannot be circumvented, such as for installation of a service lateral to a property, will be constructed in accordance with the requirements of Chapter 105, Dam Safety and Waterway Management, and will be restored to their original condition.
10. Protection of rare, endangered or threatened plant and animal species as identified by the Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory.
To determine whether any rare, endangered or threatened plant or animal species would be impacted by a sewer project in Nuangola, a description and location map of the project was submitted to the Pennsylvania DEP Bureau of Forestry, the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and the U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. These agencies responded that no adverse impacts were likely to occur as a result of a project. This correspondence is reproduced in Exhibit 5.
11. Historical and Archaeological Resource Protection.
To determine whether any archaeological or historical sites would be impacted by a sewer project in Nuangola, a description and location map of the project was submitted to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. The Commission determined that “ A high probability exists that archaeological resources may occur within the proposed permit area.” This requires that a Phase I archaeology survey be performed, which would occur early in the design phase of a sewage collection project. This correspondence is reproduced in Exhibit 6.
B. Provide for the resolution of any inconsistencies in any of the points identified in Section VI.A.
No inconsistencies with other Commonwealth programs or agency initiatives were identified in connection with the alternatives evaluated.
C. Evaluate alternatives identified in Section V with respect to applicable water quality standards, effluent limitations or other technical, legislative or legal requirements.
The alternatives under consideration by Nuangola Borough, including construction of sewage collection and conveyance mains, rehabilitation and upgrade to an existing sewage pumping station, and providing grinder pump units for use with low pressure sewers, do not involve new treated effluent discharges to surface waters nor increases to existing permitted discharges. Therefore, evaluation with respect to applicable water quality standards and effluent limitations is not applicable. Since on-lot sewage disposal systems in the Borough would be disconnected and would not remain in service, the Borough and its SEO would no longer be required to see that the legal requirements of Chapter 73 were being carried out.
D. Provide cost estimates for construction, financing, ongoing administration, operation and maintenance for each alternative identified in Section V.
Cost estimates were first developed for a low pressure sewer collection system alternative in Table 1. Construction cost is projected to be $2,686,500 with annual operating and maintenance expenses of $19,356 thereafter. It is anticipated that service laterals would be extended only as far as the limit of the permanent easement or to the edge of the highway right-of-way, as appropriate. The proposed location and configuration of the system are shown on Drawing 5. One grinder pump would be purchased as a project cost for each service connection, both to ensure interchangeability and to achieve more competitive pricing. Installation of the grinder pump in the location most advantageous to the household plumbing would be the property owner’s expense, as would connection from the service lateral to the house plumbing. These costs will depend on the length of the lateral and on the difficulty of making the connection to the existing plumbing, but for estimating purposes they will average $500 - 1500 per connection. If a group of homeowners chooses to negotiate jointly with one or more local contractors to install their grinder pumps and laterals the cost per home will decrease as the contractor’s mobilization costs will be shared. A larger project will also be more attractive to a contractor, and a more competitive proposal to do the work may be offered.
An intermediate pumping station is required along Northend Road as shown on Drawing 5 to lower the dynamic head of the grinder pumps located at the eastern end of Northend Road and on Krell Street. A preliminary low pressure sewer system hydraulic analysis based on topography from USGS mapping at 20-foot contour intervals and on Environment One grinder pumps is found in Appendix 3. Locations of individual branches of the low pressure sewer system are indicated on Drawing 5. Branches 1 through 5 are calculated to have a total dynamic head in excess of 135 feet, the limit of normal operation for the grinder pumps. Providing an intermediate pumping station reduces the total dynamic head of the pumps in Branch 1, for example, from 161.26 ft. to 54.62 ft.
Table 2 develops a cost estimate for the conveyance force main from the Nuangola Borough limit to the MAJSA gravity sewage collection system on Prospect Road in Rice Township. The route of the conveyance main is shown on Exhibit 7 and proceeds from Church Road largely in private right-of-way to the existing influent gravity sewer manhole serving the I-81 southbound rest area. No connections in Rice Township along the route of the force main are proposed. This table also includes estimated costs for upgrading the pumps in the rest area pumping station, and for replacing and enlarging the force main downstream from it to the MAJSA gravity sewer transition manhole on Prospect Road. Initial construction is estimated to cost $454,300 with annual operation and maintenance of $578 per year.
Tables 4 and 5 were developed to compare a gravity sewage collection system alternative to low pressure where such an alternative was feasible. (All connections tributary to Northend Road, as well as those on Blytheburn Road, Williams Street and other isolated areas of the Borough remain low pressure sewer connections in this alternative.) Initial construction cost of the gravity sewer alternative in Table 4 is estimated to be $2,774,150 with annual operation and maintenance costs of $12,792 thereafter. Construction cost of the conveyance main in Table 2 is estimated to cost $607,050 with annual operation and maintenance costs of $1,155.
Comparing the low pressure sewer alternative in Tables 1 and 2 to the gravity sewer in Tables 4 and 5 results in a total construction cost (including 10 percent contingency) of $3,454,880 versus $3,719,320 respectively, or a 7.7 percent savings with low pressure sewer technology. Annual operating and maintenance costs, however, are projected to be $19,834 for the low pressure alternative versus $13,947 for gravity, a difference of 42 percent.
To resolve these differences, a present worth analysis was performed on the low pressure sewer alternative in Table 3, resulting in a present worth of $5,177,825. A similar analysis on the gravity alternative in Table 6 resulted in a present worth of $5,374,741. Due to its 3.8 percent lower present worth, the low pressure sewer alternative is recommended.
E. Provide an analysis of the funding methods available to finance each of the proposed alternatives evaluated in Section V.
There are two sources of financing assistance that should be considered for a proposed Nuangola Borough sewer construction project.
USDA Rural Development
The Rural Development Service, formerly the Farmers Home Administration (FmHA), is a rural credit agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, authorized to provide financial assistance for water and sewer projects and other essential community services in rural areas. Projects financed by RUS must primarily serve rural residents. For water and sewer projects, the term "rural area" will not include any area in any borough or township with a population in excess of 10,000 inhabitants.
To be eligible to receive USDA assistance, the applicant must be a public entity such as a municipality, county, special purpose authority, or non-profit corporation. Applicants must also:
1. Be unable to obtain needed funds from other sources at reasonable rates and terms.
2. Have legal authority to borrow and repay loans, and be financially sound.
3. Be able to operate and maintain the facility or services financed.
4. Demonstrate consistency with the development plans of the state, county or local municipality in which the project is proposed to be located.
Funds may be used to acquire, construct, expand or otherwise improve rural water supplies, sewage collection and treatment facilities and other essential community facilities. Other reasonable project costs, such as legal and engineering fees, are eligible for funding when related to the development of the facility.
The maximum term on USDA loans is 40 years. However, no repayment will exceed the useful life of the improvement or facility to be financed. The interest rate available from USDA is adjusted quarterly, but is fixed for a given project when funds are obligated to that project. The rate will remain unchanged for the term of the loan. All loans must be secured by bonds or notes pledging revenue, bonds, assessments or, if necessary, taxes as security, unless the project budget includes a 10 percent debt service reserve account.
USDA also has grant funds for the development of water and sewer projects. The funds are available to projects serving the most financially needy communities in order to reduce user costs to an affordable level. Ordinarily, a grant will be considered only when the debt service portion of the user cost exceeds 1 percent of the median household income for the area, based on the most recent and reliable data available. Lower loan interest rates are also available to communities, which meet certain income criteria.
Communities with a Median Household Income (MHI) of less than $31,498 (1990 census) may qualify for grant funds of up to 45 percent of eligible project costs and for loan funds at the "intermediate" interest rate, which is currently 4.625 percent. Very low income communities ($25,198 MHI or less) may be considered for grants of up to 75 percent and for loan funds at the "poverty" interest rate, which is currently 4.5 percent. Communities with median household incomes exceeding $31,498 are not eligible for grant funds but can apply for loans at the USDA "market rate" which is currently 4.875 percent. Since the USDA program is funded with a ratio of approximately 60 percent loan to 40 percent grant funds, it is unlikely that a project would receive a grant of much more then 40 percent unless unusual circumstances can be demonstrated. Similarly, USDA will only offer enough grant funds to reduce the monthly user cost to an “affordable” level, which is currently defined for most communities as about $42 per month.
The 1990 MHI of Nuangola Borough is $28,571, which allows the project to qualify for the USDA intermediate rate financing assistance with up to 45 percent grant funds.
Table 7 has been prepared to determine the annual operating budget following a sewer system construction project utilizing funding and financing assistance by USDA. It assumes an initial user base of 388 connections and an initial connection fee of $1000 per connection. Applying the maximum 45 percent grant results in an annual budget that would require a monthly charge of $47.11 per equivalent dwelling unit. A second budget also developed on Table 7 demonstrates that a grant of 54 percent would be required in order to achieve the target user rate of $42 per month. This is considered unlikely.
The USDA assistance program does not release payment for professional services or construction costs until the project is complete. This means that interim financing must be sought from a local lender to pay for all project expenses on a timely basis. The interim financing as well as all interest paid is then paid off by USDA at the time of loan closing of the financing assistance package.
Since the USDA program is funded by congressional appropriation, the amount of funds available may vary with the passage of each new federal biennial budget.
PENNVEST is a program of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania designed to help communities finance sewer, water and storm drainage projects and to improve the state’s deteriorating infrastructure and economic climate. Funded in 1988 by nearly $1 Billion in state and federal monies, PENNVEST was established as a revolving loan fund, which will ultimately supply $2.5 billion to update the state's Clean Water Infrastructure over the next 25 years.
The PENNVEST Board considers the following criteria when evaluating applications for financial assistance:
1. Whether the project will improve the health, safety, welfare or economic well-being of the people of the Commonwealth.
2. Whether the proposed project will lead to an effective or complete long-term solution to the problems experienced with the water supply or sewage treatment system to be aided, including compliance with state and federal laws, regulations or stanards.
3. Its own assessment of the cost effectiveness of the proposed project alternative in comparison with other alternatives, including other institutional, financial and physical alternatives.
4. The consistency of the proposed project with other state and regional resource management and economic development plans.
5. Whether the applicant has demonstrated its ability to operate and maintain the project in a proper manner.
6. Whether the project encourages consolidation of water or sewer systems where such consolidation would enable the customers of the systems to be more effectively and efficiently served.
7. The availability of other sources of funds at reasonable rates to finance all or a portion of the project and the need for PENNVEST assistance to finance the project or to attract other sources of funding. The Board may require the applicant to participate in financing a project when it determines that the applicant has the financial capability to do so. The extent of applicant participation in financing a project and the reasonableness of interest rates on alternative sources of financing will both be determined by the effect that a project's financing will have on user rates relative to users' ability to pay. To the extent that data availability permits, PENNVEST will consider the relationship between the applicant's proposed user rates and ability to pay and compare it with systems in comparable socioeconomic circumstances. Comparisons will be made separately for sewage systems and water systems.
Grants will be considered only when the Board determines that the financial condition of the recipient is such that repayment of a loan is unlikely and that the recipient will not be able to proceed with the project without a grant. Should the Board decide to award a grant, the Board will attempt to mix the grant funds with loan funds.
In determining whether a grant should be offered and, if so, what proportion of the financial assistance offered should constitute a grant and what portion should constitute a loan, the Board will consider the ultimate effect that financing a project's costs will have on the rates the customers will have to pay. Any rate increase will be compared with local incomes and abilities to pay in assessing the need for a grant.
The term of loans shall normally be 20 years from the day the loan agreements are executed. The minimum rate of interest to be paid on any loan shall be 1 percent. The maximum rate of interest shall not exceed the following:
1. For projects in counties whose unemployment rate exceeds the state-wide unemployment rate by 40 percent or more, 1 percent for the first five years and 25 percent of the bond interest rate for the remainder of the loan.
2. For projects in counties whose unemployment rate exceeds the state-wide unemployment rate, but exceeds it by less than 40 percent, 30 percent of the bond interest rate for the first five years and 60 percent of the bond interest rate for the remainder of the loan.
3. For all other projects, 60 percent of the bond interest rate for the first five years and 75 percent of the bond interest rate for the remainder of the loan.
The PENNVEST program also offers advance funding for project design. A separate application process is required and, if approved, PENNVEST would commit funds to the project for use during the design phase to cover the costs of engineering fees and permit applications. Interest would be charged only as funds were withdrawn for use, and the interest could be paid out of the advance funds committed. Advance funding loans are made for a term of 5 years and can be paid off as part of the construction financing package. Approval of advance funds for system design in no way obligates PENNVEST to finance the subsequent construction project; likewise, the project owner is free to pursue alternative sources of construction financing assistance if more attractive rates or terms are available elsewhere.
Table 8 was developed with assistance of Michael J. Gallagher, Sr., P.E. of the PENNVEST staff to illustrate the Borough’s projected annual operating budget with financing assistance by PENNVEST. It also assumes an initial user base of 388 connections and an initial connection fee of $1,000, and also assumes a PENNVEST grant of $400,000 and an extended repayment period of approximately 23½ years, resulting in a monthly cost per user of $60.
F. Analyze the ability of the municipality to implement each alternative proposed in Section V including:
1. The activities necessary to abate critical public health hazards pending completion of sewage facilities.
Nuangola Borough Council believes that it is in the Borough’s interest to enact an ordinance establishing a temporary on-lot subsurface sewage disposal system management program until such time as a central sewage system has been constructed and is available for property owner connection. A text of the draft ordinance is found in Exhibit 10; municipal adoption is included in the Schedule of Implementation.
The drinking water testing program, carried out in conjunction with this report, has identified a number of wells with the presence of coliform bacteria which were previously unknown to the property owners. Now that these wells have been identified, disinfection procedures have been implemented.
2. The phased development of sewage facilities.
The anticipated sewage collection and conveyance facilities are neither so complex nor of such magnitude as to require a phased approach to construction. It is expected that all construction contracts can be awarded and managed concurrently.
G. Evaluate the administrative organization and legal authority necessary for plan implementation.
The Mountaintop Area Joint Sanitary Authority was incorporated on December 26, 1973 under the regulations of the Pennsylvania Municipality Authorities Act of 1945 and currently serves some 4,000 customers within its member municipalities: Wright, Fairview and Rice Townships. Those charter members established it as an operating authority, with legal authority: to implement the sewage planning recommendations of Act 537 Sewage Plan Updates adopted by the individual Boards of Township Supervisors; to implement system-wide operation and maintenance activities; to establish user fees and make purchasing decisions; to establish its own operating rules and regulations, and to take action against violators of them; to negotiate agreements with public and private entities; and to raise capital for construction, operation and maintenance of its facilities. The Authority’s charter has been amended, and currently is extended until December 26, 2073.
VII. INSTITUTIONAL EVALUATION
A. Provide an analysis of all existing wastewater treatment authorities, their past actions and present performance.
1. Financial and debt status.
In 2000 as part of its wastewater treatment plant upgrade and rerating project, the Mountaintop Area Joint Sanitary Authority incorporated its new and existing debt into a 30-year bond issuance totaling $12,195,000. The bonds will mature in 2030. The Authority’s present and past debt has been entirely self-liquidating, and the Authority has a history of making timely payments to retire it.
2. Available staff and administrative resources.
The Authority Board consists of eight members appointed by its three member municipalities. Assisting it are a full time executive director, wastewater treatment plant operators and billing clerks. Customer records and invoicing are computerized. The plant operators also maintain the Authority’s sewage collection system and are factory-trained to repair grinder pumps. It is expected that no additional staff would be required to accept wastewater flow from Nuangola Borough, or to administer and maintain its sewer infrastructure.
3. Existing legal authority.
The legal authority delegated to MAJSA by its member municipalities is summarized in Section VI.G, above, with these clarifications: The Authority may contract with other municipalities to provide wastewater treatment services to them. If a municipality were to become a client of MAJSA (i.e., perform their own sewer system maintenance, invoice their own customers for services and collect their own accounts receivable; contracting with MAJSA only for wastewater treatment) then MAJSA can directly enter into a service agreement with that municipality. However, if a municipality were to apply to become a member municipality of MAJSA, then a service agreement cannot be executed by the Authority until the Authority and the Boards of Supervisors of each charter member municipality shall have voted to accept the new municipality as a member.
The Authority also relies on each of its member municipalities to enforce their respective mandatory connection ordinances.
B. Provide an analysis and description of the various institutional alternatives necessary to implement the proposed technical alternative.
1. The need for new municipal authorities.
As explained in the previous section, Nuangola Borough can elect to become a client of the Mountaintop Area Joint Sanitary Authority or it can become a member municipality. If the Borough chooses to become a client, it must provide for its own sewer system and grinder pump maintenance, as well as for its own customer invoicing and collection of accounts receivable. Some municipalities hire part-time employees to perform these tasks under the direction of Council or of a committee of council members. Other municipalities create a municipal authority of appointed members and delegate the Authority for managing and administering their sewer infrastructure to the Authority. In the case of Nuangola Borough, whose personnel and budgetary resources are small, it is unnecessarily burdensome and a duplication of effort to take on these additional responsibilities locally when MAJSA already has the resources and experience to perform them.
2. Functions of the sewer authority.
The Mountaintop Area Joint Sanitary Authority will continue to function as an operating authority. Such an authority is totally independent, selling its own bonds to finance its projects, operating its projects and paying off its debts from project revenues. Municipal elected officials have no role in operating or paying for sewer projects. Authority personnel operate them and collect user charges directly. Due to its independence, the only income available to pay off principal and interest on the Authority’s bonds is the revenue generated by the sewer projects themselves.
The Municipality Authorities Act specifies the rights and power of the Authority Board. They include the following functions:
a. to assist for 50 years as a corporation.
b. to sue and be sued.
c. to adopt a corporate seal.
d. to acquire, hold, lease or use any property or franchise necessary or desirable for carrying out its purpose; and to sell, lease or dispose of its property at any time.
e. to acquire projects by purchase, lease or otherwise and to construct, improve, maintain, repair and operate projects.
f. to adopt by-laws for the management and regulation of its affairs.
g. to appoint officers, agents and employees; to prescribe their duties and fix their compensation.
h. to fix, alter, charge and collect reasonable and uniform rates and other charges in its service area and to exclusively determine the services and improvements, including extensions, required to provide adequate, safe and reasonable service.
i. to borrow money and issue notes, bonds and other evidences of indebtedness or obligations of the Authority.
j. to make contracts and execute all instruments necessary or convenient for carrying out its business.
k. to borrow money, accept grants from and enter into contracts, leases or other transactions with any federal or state agency, any municipality, school district, corporation or authority.
l. to exercise the power of eminent domain.
m. to pledge or otherwise encumber the revenues or receipts of the Authority as security for its obligations.
n. to do anything necessary or convenient for promoting its business and the general welfare of the Authority, and to carry out its legal powers.
o. to contract with any municipality, corporation or public authority of Pennsylvania, or of an adjoining state for projects crossing state lines.
p. to enter into contracts to supply water, sewer or other services to municipalities not members of the Authority and to fix the amount to be paid.
q. to make assessments for sewer or water main construction and to charge tapping fees.
r. to make assessments for business improvements and administrative services.
s. to provide financing for insurance reserves.
t. to finance projects by making loans to non-profit institutions and local government units.
3. Cost of administration, implementability and the capability of the Authority to react to future needs.
The cost of sewer system maintenance and administrative services is included in the $275 annual fee per EDU quoted in Tables 3 and 6.
The Mountaintop Area Joint Sanitary Authority has proven itself to be progressive in providing sufficient wastewater treatment capacity to serve the future needs of the large industrial users as well as residential and commercial growth within its service territory. Its recent treatment plant expansion positions the Authority to serve the present and future sewage needs of Nuangola Borough.
C. Describe all necessary administrative and legal activities to be completed and adopted to ensure the implementation of the recommended alternative.
1. Incorporation of authorities.
The Sanitary Authority’s Articles of Incorporation have recently been extended until December 26, 2073, which date is beyond the date of the maximum term of loan from either funding agency under consideration in Section VI.E.
2. All required ordinances, regulations, standards and intermunicipal agreements.
Two ordinances must be enacted by Nuangola Borough Council to permit timely implementation of the sewer project. One ordinance will require mandatory connection to the sewer system upon its being placed in service. The second will allow sewer mains and portions of service laterals to occupy municipal road rights-of-way. (A similar ordinance allowing the conveyance force main to occupy township road right-of-way will not be required of Rice Township, since the force main will be constructed exclusively within private right-of-way and state highway right-of-way.)
A third ordinance must be enacted to establish the on-lot sewage management program as an interim measure pending completion of the sewer system construction project.
The Sanitary Authority has already developed and adopted its own rules and regulations for sewer use, which can be applied to the Nuangola Borough sewer project.
Because the entire service territory of the project lies within Nuangola Borough and no connections are proposed in Rice Township, there is no need of an intermunicipal sewer service agreement with Rice Township for the conveyance force main. However, a wastewater treatment service agreement must be executed with MAJSA upon its acceptance of Nuangola Borough as a member.
3. Description of activities to provide easements and rights-of-way.
The Borough must develop an easement and right-of-way agreement for execution of each property owner whose private property will be temporarily occupied during construction of the sewage facilities or that will be permanently occupied by those facilities themselves. This includes grinder pumps and their controls, and the easement must be in favor of the Sanitary Authority so that it can enter upon private property when service, repair or replacement of pumps or control components is necessary.
All easements and rights-of-way must be executed before the project can be advertised for bid, and all of the executed agreements must be recorded by the Luzerne County Recorder of Deeds. The agreement typically allows the Authority to occupy a 35-foot wide strip temporarily during construction, and a 20-foot wide strip permanently, where these widths are available, for location of the sewer mains and manholes. Service laterals to each developed property will be extended to the edge of the permanent right-of-way line. The easement and right-of-way agreement provides for restoration of the occupied and disturbed property when construction activities are complete.
4. Adoption of other municipal sewage facilities plans.
Since the entire service territory of the project lies within the Borough of Nuangola, no Act 537 Sewage Plan Updates by adjoining municipalities are required.
5. Any other legal documents.
Nuangola Borough must apply for and obtain the following permits at the conclusion of the sewer project design phase before it can advertise the project for bids:
a. A Part II Water Quality Management Permit from the Pennsylvania DEP for the sewage collection system design and construction details.
b. A Highway Occupancy Permit from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for work within state highway right-of-way.
c. The Borough must make application to the Luzerne County Natural Resources Conservation Service to use general permits for discharges of stormwater associated with construction activities and for utility line stream crossings.
D. Identify the chosen institutional alternative for implementing the chosen technical alternative.
Nuangola Borough Council will apply for membership status on the Mountaintop Area Joint Sanitary Authority, which shall operate and maintain completed sewage collection and conveyance facilities serving the Borough.
VIII. SELECTED TECHNICAL AND INSTITUTIONAL ALTERNATIVE
The conclusion of this Sewage Plan Update for Nuangola Borough is to end its reliance on on-lot methods of sewage disposal, and instead to construct a comprehensive low pressure sewage collection system to serve the entire Borough, with conveyance facilities to the Mountaintop Area Joint Sanitary Authority system for treatment.
A. Identify the technical wastewater treatment alternative, which best meets the wastewater treatment needs of the study area. Justify the choice based on:
1. Existing wastewater treatment needs.
The MAJSA Annual Wasteload Management Report indicates that sufficient excess treatment capacity currently exists for the projected wastewater treatment needs of Nuangola Borough, which has not been reserved for other users. The alternative is consistent with the Clean Streams Law, which promotes the policy of regionalization of wastewater treatment services.
2. Future wastewater treatment needs.
The amount of excess treatment capacity in the MAJSA facility exceeds the projected growth of its existing service area throughout the Annual Wasteload Management Report planning period. This alternative is also consistent with the Clean Water Act because the projections of excess capacity are developed consistent with Chapter 94 Annual Wasteload Management reporting.
3. Operation and maintenance considerations.
New or expanded wastewater treatment units or processes will not be required for acceptance of wastewater from Nuangola Borough, so there will be no additional maintenance demands placed on the staff at the wastewater treatment plant. The only additional maintenance requirements will be occasional service and repair of grinder pumps, which the present staff is capable of handling.
As indicated in the present worth analyses, low pressure sewers are more economical in this application than conventional gravity sewers. The annual wastewater treatment charge of $275 per EDU is low enough that, when the debt service from the Nuangola Borough sewer project is added to it, an affordable annual budget can still be developed. Economies of scale exist to the benefit of all users in the MAJSA system due to its size. The economies would not be available to Nuangola Borough if it constructed its own wastewater treatment plant at only one-fortieth the size.
5. Available management and administrative systems.
The Mountaintop Area Joint Sanitary Authority already has experience managing a wastewater collection and treatment infrastructure that is not currently available within Nuangola Borough.
6. Available financing methods.
The USDA program offers a financing assistance package which, when coupled with a grant equal to 45 percent of total project costs, results in a current user rate of $47.11 per month per EDU.
7. Environmental soundness and compliance with natural resource planning and preservation programs.
Exhibits 5, 6 and 8 indicate that the planning and natural resource protection agencies that have reviewed this Sewage Plan Update do not find it inconsistent with their own program goals and objectives.
B. Designate and describe the capital financing plan chosen to implement the selected alternative, as well as a back-up financing plan.
As a result of comparing the annual projected user costs in Tables 7 and 8, the USDA program has been identified as the most promising source of project funding and financing assistance. A loan interest rate of 4.625 percent for a 40-year period has been assumed, with the understanding that this current rate is subject to revision quarterly and also will be reinterpreted when median household income data from the 2000 Census is released. (The interest rate is fixed for the term of the loan when an offer of funds is made and is accepted.) A grant in the amount of $1,956,000 has also been assumed, based on conversations with the USDA district loan officer.
If USDA assistance is unavailable, application will be made to the PENNVEST program.
C. Schedule of Implementation
1. Obtain DEP approval of Sewage Plan Update
2. Council applies for membership in MAJSA and begins to negotiate a wastewater treatment agreement 2 months following Item 1
3. Council enacts temporary sewage system management ordinance 4 months following Item 1
4. MAJSA accepts Nuangola Borough as a member and executes wastewater treatment agreement
5. Council makes pre-application to USDA for funding and financing assistance 2 months following Item 4
6. Council is invited to make formal application to USDA
7. Council completes application to USDA 1 month following Item 6
8. Council obtains funding & financing assistance commitment from USDA
9. Council obtains interim financing from local lending institution 2 months following Item 8
10. Engineer begins system design and production of Phase I archaeology survey Upon completion of Item 9
11. Engineer completes system design and applies for DEP Part II Water Quality Management Permit 8 months following Item 10
12. Engineer applies for PennDOT Highway Occupancy Permit and for permits from Natural Resources Conservation Service Concurrently with Item 11
13. Council receives all permits and regulatory agency approvals
14. Council begins acquisition of easements and right-of-way agreements Upon receipt of Item 8
15. Council passes ordinances for mandatory connection and allowing use of Borough road rights-of-way 2 months following Item 8
16. Council completes easement & right-of-way acquisition 4 months following Item 8
17. Council receives USDA permission to advertise for bids Upon completion of Items 13, 15 and 16
18. Council issues advertisement for bids 1 month following Item 17
19. Council receives and tabulates bids 1 month following Item 18
20. Council awards contracts and construction begins 1 month following Item 19
21. Construction is substantially complete; connections can begin to be made 12 months following Item 20
22. Final completion and project close-out 2 months following Item 21