Background: The Hegins-Hubley Township Act 537 Sewage Facilities Plan is a Comprehensive Study for the provision of adequate sewage systems in Hegins and Hubley Townships, Schuylkill County, PA. Prior to the initiation of this effort, no major studies were completed to address the known on-lot system malfunctions, cesspools, and wildcat sewers discharging raw sewage to the ground and waterways in the Hegins Valley. A challenge to the study was addressing the rural layout of the townships with many villages and small clusters of residential structures spread throughout the area.
Scope: Benesch completed the Joint Plan Update in accordance with PADEP sewage planning requirements, including numerous public hearings and outreach. The Sewage Disposal Needs Identification portion of the project showed major malfunctions of on-lot sewage systems throughout both Townships. Alternatives were developed to investigate various methods of addressing the sewage needs for each of ten (10) planning areas identified for the Townships. The alternatives included, but were not limited to, repair and management of individual on-lot systems, public collection, conveyance and treatment, and no action. Dozens of alternatives were developed and assessed from the basis of technical capabilities, acceptance and cost. Treatment systems considered for package plants included sequencing batch reactors (SBR), integrated fixed-film activated sludge (IFAS), membrane biological reactor (MBR), and other processes.
Based upon costs, benefits, and overall feasibility, a central sewage treatment system was recommended to serve several of the study areas and address the sewage needs of the Townships. The central system included a 600,000-gallon per day SBR treatment facility in Hubley Township served by over 35 miles of collection system. The total cost estimate for the proposed work was $34 million, to be funded via PENNVEST and other low-interest loans and grants. The institutional control recommended was for the existing Hegins-Hubley Authority (drinking water) to expand their charter to own and operate the proposed public sewage system.
As not all structures could be connected to public conveyance/treatment, Benesch also developed a Sewage Management Program for maintaining all on-lot systems that will remain. The plan was accepted by PADEP.
Concern over the affordability of the sewer project and public opposition to sewer project have been key issues the Townships have had to overcome over the years. A group of citizens filed an appeal to contest the Act 537 Plan. Benesch assisted Hubley Township and PADEP in successfully defending the Act 537 Plan and provided expert witness testimony in front of the Pennsylvania Environmental Haring Board.