Friday, April 19, 2013

DEP to Extend Public Comment Period, Host Webinar Guidance Developed in Response to Court Decision

April 18, 2013

DEP to Extend Public Comment Period, Host Webinar  Guidance Developed in Response to Court Decision
Harrisburg – The Department of Environmental Protection announced today that it will accept comments for an additional 30 days on draft technical guidance describing how onlot sewage disposal systems can be sited in watersheds that are designated high-quality and exceptional value. The comment period, which was originally slated to close May 1, will be open through June 3.

The agency also announced it will host a webinar on Tuesday, April 23, from 2 to 3 p.m., to present the guidance and answer questions. DEP will also expand its outreach and discussion efforts with local government organizations.
“Good government, sound policy and public involvement are core tenets of this administration,” DEP Acting Secretary Chris Abruzzo said. “We want to make sure that everyone has a chance to be heard; we want reasonable development to be able to occur; and we want to make sure this state’s water quality is protected. If there are different approaches than the one we have proposed, we want to hear them.”
The draft technical guidance outlines an approach using best management practices, such as the number of septic systems per acre on a proposed development, or nitrate removal technology, to demonstrate that the state’s most pristine waters are protected. Under Pennsylvania law, these high-quality and exceptional value watersheds are afforded special protections, known as anti-degradation requirements. DEP is required by federal law to ensure the water quality of such watersheds is protected and maintained.
The technical guidance, as drafted, is prospective and would only apply to onlot septic systems for projects that have not yet secured sewage planning approval from DEP and local government organizations. The technical guidance will not affect projects that have already been approved.
This technical guidance is needed because the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board ruled that the modeling DEP relied on to approve the use of septic systems near high-quality and exceptional value watersheds did not adequately demonstrate the waterways are protected. The ruling set a high legal and scientific standard for review of sewage facilities planning in special protection watersheds.
This draft guidance lays out one approach to address developers’ uncertainty. If it is finalized, DEP will favorably view planning modules submitted in accordance with the guidance and will also consider alternative approaches as sewage planners seek approval from the agency.
Written comments on the guidance should be sent in writing by June 3 to Thomas Starosta at DEP’s Bureau of Point and Non-Point Source Management, Division of Planning and Permits, P. O. Box 8774, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8774, or via email to
For more information or to register for the webinar, visit and click the “DEP Webinars” button, then “Draft Technical Guidance for Onlot Sewage Systems in HQ/EV” on the right-hand side of that page. The webinar will be recorded and posted on this webpage for future viewing.

Media contact: Kevin Sunday, 717-787-1323

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sewage Facilities Planning Module Webinar

Sewage Facilities Planning Module Webinar - Nitrates and Septic Systems and HQ and EV Streams In PA

DEP invites you to participate in an important upcoming webinar about Draft Technical Guidance for DEP’s review of Sewage Facilities Planning Modules for onlot sewage systems proposed in Pennsylvania’s High Quality and Exceptional Value Watersheds.
The proper location and management of community and individual onlot septic systems is key to safeguarding public health and Pennsylvania’s water quality resources. The new draft technical guidance will ensure cost-effective and reasonable best management practices (BMPs) for nonpoint source control are achieved to maintain and protect water quality when reviewing sewage facilities planning modules for proposed individual or community onlot sewage systems in high quality and exceptional value watersheds.
During the one-hour webinar, DEP staff will describe BMPs for individual and community onlot sewage systems that can achieve nonpoint source control in High Quality and Exceptional Value waters, and review the process for selecting appropriate BMPs to achieve such control.
The webinar will be held from 2-3 p.m., Monday April 15. The webinar is free but registration is required. To register, visit

The Draft Technical Guidance can be found here:
Public comments regarding the Draft Technical Guidance are due to DEP May 1.

Alisa E. Harris
Special Deputy Secretary for External Affairs
Department of Environmental Protection
Rachel Carson State Office Building
400 Market Street
Harrisburg, PA 17101
Phone: 717.787.6490
Fax: 717.705.4980

Check out our recent blog post

Sunday, April 7, 2013

PADEP Proposes antidegradation for On-lot septic systems

PADEP Proposes antidegradation for On-lot septic systems -Sewage Facilities Planning Module Review for Onlot Sewage Systems Proposed in High Quality and Exceptional Value Watersheds - Proposed Policy - 385-2208-XXX

POLICY: The Department will assure that cost-effective and reasonable best management practices (BMPs) for nonpoint source control are achieved to maintain and protect water quality when reviewing sewage facilities planning modules for proposed individual or community onlot sewage systems in high quality and exceptional value watersheds.
PURPOSE: The purpose of this guidance is to describe BMPs for individual and community onlot sewage systems that can achieve nonpoint source control in High Quality and Exceptional Value waters, and to provide a process to select appropriate BMPs to achieve such control.

APPLICABILITY: This guidance applies to Department and delegated agency review of sewage facilities planning modules proposing the use of individual and community onlot sewage systems in High Quality or Exceptional Value watersheds.  
The policies and procedures outlined in this guidance document are intended to supplement existing requirements. Nothing in these policies or procedures shall affect regulatory requirements. The policies and procedures herein are not an adjudication or a regulation. There is no intent on the part of the Department to give these policies and procedures that weight or deference. This document establishes the framework, within which DEP will exercise its administrative discretion in the future. DEP reserves the discretion to deviate from these policies and procedures if circumstances warrant.
Here are some of the Problems:
1. Policy Developed after PADEP Lost a Key Court Decision - the main reason - Their approval was not based on actual data.  Therefore, they generated a policy that does the same.
2. Implementation of the Proposed Policy - would require changes in the law.
3. Protect High Quality and EV streams as the same level of protection. 
4. Create a standard were individual on-lot septic systems have to resolve in 0 impact on these streams - this standard is greater than any direct discharge to the stream or even a non-degrading discharge.  (PS - this level of protection can not even be meet by a non-degrading discharge).
5. Proposes the uses of Best Management Practices that are not based on sound science and have not been tried in PA.
6. Implements a point system approach that is based on judgement over the use of site-specific data that can be used in a hydrological analysis for the site.
7. Applies this policy to all new septic systems, plus suggest it should be applied to repair systems.  Applies to all existing lots and not just new subdivisions.
8. The policy does exclude spray irrigation systems, but does not exclude drip irrigation systems.
9. Cost burden - the additional cost for installing a septic system in PA could go up by over $ 25,000.00 - why ? To protect streams from Nitrate - the only problem nitrate is no a problem in our streams and only about 4 % of the nitrogen loading to our streams may come from septic systems.  The larger problem is agricultural runoff, combustion of fossil fuels, urban runoff, and direct discharges to the stream.
10. The cost for the implementation of this policy has not been evaluated. This cost would likely be burdened on the local agency and citizen.  Also, implementation of this policy would require changes in all local ordinances.
11. The policy would impact economic development and our rural tourist areas may be the areas most impacted.

We are developing more information - Please book mark the site.
I believe comments are due by May 1, 2013 - they go to

PADEP - Bureau of Point and Non-point Source Management

Rachel Carson State Office Building
400 Market Street
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8774
Proposed Policy
Proposed Policy - Presentation by PADEP - "Does not tell the whole story".
Current Policy and Guidance

other comments
1. May 2010
2. Lehigh Valley Builders

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Do you enjoy hiking? Finding treasure? Geocaching is a real world “treasure hunt” involving a handheld GPS unit or an app on your smartphone. There are over 2 million geocaches located worldwide.
Geocachers get started by accessing the website While not the only website devoted to this hobby, it is the best comprehensive, easy to use site devoted to geocaching. So what are geocaches? Geocaches are containers hidden outside in any area. They are disguised to blend in with the location they are placed in, and can be any size- from pencil eraser dimensions to 5 gallon containers. As they are placed, the

GPS coordinates are entered into the website along with a description of the terrain, size of container, and often a helpful clue. Geocachers then access the info on the website, plug in the coordinates, and go find the cache! When you find one, it will have a log- a slip of paper to write your name. If large enough, it will also contain trinkets for trading, called SWAG (stands for Stuff We All Get)
There are a few rules associated with Geocaching.

1. Leave natural areas the way you found them. Practice light footprints as you hike into areas to find caches. CITO is also a good practice ( stands for Cache in Trash Out).

2. If you take an item from a cache, leave one in return. Never leave anything flammable, or liquid, food items or any type of weapon- like objects in a geocache.

3. Replace the cache exactly where and exactly how you found it. Since these are placed based on GPS coordinates, it is important that others after you will be able to find it as well.

Why is this a fun hobby or activity? For starters, it gets people outside, away from the couch! Most importantly, geocachers pride themselves in hiding caches in places that are unique. Geocachers find themselves in places they would never have the chance to be in on a regular basis, or in a place they may have driven by hundreds of times and never had the occasion to stop. Caches are often themed to enlighten hunters to a particular area, or history of a place, or just a breathtaking natural area. Geocaches are often puzzle- themed, involving problem solving skills to actually find the cache or working out how to open the container to get inside. There are even “extreme geocaches”, involving climbing gear, scuba diving, kayaking, etc.
There is more to geocaching that the brief description here. Log on to for more, and to download a basic geocaching app for your phone. There are also other GPS and caching apps available online. The basic membership to the website is free. Happy Caching- get out and play!

Back Mountain Recreation Center

Back Mountain Recreation, Inc. (BMR) is a charitable, non-profit corporation dedicated to the conservation of open space and the development of recreational facilities in the Back Mountain region of Northeastern Pennsylvania
Working together with state, county and local governments; non-profits; youth sports organizations; civic groups; area businesses; foundations; school districts and area residents; we aim to improve the quality of life enjoyed by all Back Mountain residents and meet a wide range of community needs with a special emphasis on serving our youth and seniors.
BMR strives to promote participation in healthy activities and environmental stewardship, provide educational opportunities to the public, and demonstrate sound land use planning in a quickly developing region.


Our efforts are focused in the "Back Mountain" region of Luzerne and Wyoming Counties. This area is commonly defined as the communities served by the Dallas and Lake-Lehman Area School Districts and includes the Boroughs of Dallas and Harveys Lake; the entirety of the Townships of Dallas, Franklin, Jackson, Kingston, Lake, Lehman, Noxen, and Ross; and portions of the Townships of Hunlock, Fairmont, Monroe and Northmoreland.

others Local Links
B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc
Carbon County Groundwater Guardians

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Carbon County Groundwater Guardians Volunteer Groundwater Group in Pennsylvania

The Carbon County Groundwater Guardians (CCGG) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, volunteer, environmental education organization which provides homeowners with information on private wells, water quality and quantity, and septic systems. We are dedicated to protecting private well owners from illnesses caused by our drinking water. We advance good groundwater stewardship by raising awareness on a variety of groundwater issues that affects everyone with a private water supply. We can help you get your water tested at the lab of your choice and explain the test results.

We seek new people at all skill levels for a variety of programs. One thing that everyone can do is attend meetings to share ideas on improving CCGG, enabling us to better understand and address the concerns of well owners.

Everything we do began with an idea.

We realize your time is precious and the world is hectic. CCGG’s volunteers do only what they’re comfortable with. It can be a little or a lot.

For more information, please go to CCGG’s About Page .
Carbon County Groundwater Guardians is a 501(c)(3) IRS approved nonprofit, volunteer organization and your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.
Carbon County Groundwater Guardians on Facebook