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Pennsylvania's Act 537 requires municipalities to adopt comprehensive sewage plans to address sewage disposal needs within their jurisdictions. After adoption by the municipality, the Act 537 Comprehensive Plans are reviewed and approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection ("PADEP"). A new real estate development must be consistent with, and included in, the appropriate municipality's Act 537 Comprehensive Plan. If the municipality refuses to include the project within its Act 537 Comprehensive Plan, the developer may file a "private request" directly with PADEP to request that PADEP assist in requiring the municipality to have the development included in the Act 537 Comprehensive Plan.

Municipalities and municipal authorities that operate sewage treatment plants also require National Pollution Discharge Elimination System ("NPDES") permits to allow them to discharge treated effluent to the receiving water. A Pennsylvania-specific permit, known as a "Part 2" or "Construction Permit," is also issued by PADEP pursuant to its Clean Streams Law authority to allow for the construction of, or major modification to, a sewage treatment plant.

New Jersey also has a wastewater management planning process that is part of its overall water quality management planning program. Similar to Pennsylvania, this program requires the preparation and approval by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection of regional wastewater management plans. As in Pennsylvania, it is critical that proposed development projects are included within and consistent with the approved plans. Where treatment works must be constructed, treatment work approvals are required.

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Representative sewage facilities matters in which the firm has been involved include the following:

  • MGKF successfully prosecuted an appeal of an NPDES permit issued by PADEP on behalf of a municipal sewage treatment authority and negotiated a settlement that deleted several objectionable permit requirements from the permit.
  • After a municipality denied the inclusion of our residential developer client's project into the municipality's Act 537 Comprehensive Plan, we filed a private request with PADEP. After reviewing our request, PADEP ordered the municipality to include our client's project in its Act 537 Comprehensive Plan.
  • The firm has helped several clients obtain state approval to use "pump and haul" techniques as an interim sewage disposal method, so that building permits and use and occupancy approvals could be issued before sewage treatment plants are completed.
  • MGKF defended our municipal client in the appeal of a Part 2 permit for the construction and operation of a new sewage treatment facility brought by neighboring municipalities. The appeal was withdrawn after discovery was completed, allowing our client to proceed with the construction and operation of the plant without any litigation risk.
  • We assisted the owner of a large industrial facility in obtaining sewage capacity at the municipally-owned sewage treatment plant without further cost, after the municipality initially stated that the sewage treatment capacity for the industrial facility had "expired," and any "new" sewage treatment capacity would have to be reserved through the payment of additional fees.

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