West Brandywine Township has received official word from the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Pennsylvania-American Water Company (PAWC) the township will be able to use its complete allocated sewage capacity until the water company's new upgraded plant is built in 2009.

Doubts had been raised last year when the township engineer received a connection management plan and discovered many missing connections within that plan. The township manager and engineer met with the DEP as well as PAWC on the sewage capacity issue. The water company serves as the public sewage treatment plant for Valley, Caln, Sadsbury, East Fallowfield, West Caln and West Sadsbury Townships as well as the City of Coatesville and Parkesburg borough.

With growth continuing in the Coatesville area, limited sewage capacity would become a regional issue. Local government entities met on a monthly basis with the state and PAWC at the township building. PAWC at one time told West Brandywine Township officials as well as other municipalities they would not be able to use sewage capacity they had pre-purchased. West Brandywine Township continued to state they had purchased their capacity 10 years ago. In addition, Coatesville's revitalization plans could have been put on hold until the sewage issue was resolved.

At one of those meetings, PAWC stated they would be going back to the 2001 connection management plan. Any new development plan not contained within that 2001 plan would have to wait to connect to public sewer after the upgrade in 2009. PAWC and Department of Environmental Protection stated the exception was the City of Coatesville since they did not have the physical space for on-lot sewer systems or community on-lot sewer systems. This would give the City of Coatesville's new redevelopment projects a sewage priority over neighboring municipalities that had already purchased their capacity.

While the capacity issues were discussed, the state and PAWC worked out a consent agreement in which the water company received an increase in capacity from the state. As part of that consent agreement, construction to upgrade the current plant and infrastructure would be required.

Bentley Homes, a developer with three projects needing public sewer with over 500 residential units, had undertaken a special study. This study looked at sewage capacity needs for the Route 322 area in West Brandywine Township. Bentley's persistent request to talk sewage capacity with the state and the PAWC. It was through this project the township was made aware originally of the sewage capacity problems with Pennsylvania American.

Because this is a more recent project, Bentley Homes would not qualify as part of the 2001 connection management plan. However, another snafu occurred when the state Department of Environmental Protection did not review the special study in the required timeframe. Bentley Homes Special Study legally became "deemed approved" since the legal time clock ran out on the review.

Legally, Bentley Homes had obtained their public sewage capacity approval. The township municipal authority would need to give Bentley approval to connect to public sewer, but if it were also bound by PAWC's 2001 connection management plan agreement which Bentley did not qualify, this put the township in a legal dilemma. Township Manager Ron Rambo worked diligently to resolve their problem.

At the March 16 board of supervisors meeting, Rambo said he was able to demonstrate to the state Department of Environmental Protect the township had 140 EDU's to give to Bentley Homes until the sewage treatment plant upgrades could take place in 2009. Rambo said, "I gave them (DEP) the actual data." This information showed the actual flows from the township infrastructure leading to the Coatesville sewage treatment plant stopping at the township border.

Bentley Homes will be able to begin building to cover the 140 EDU's but would need to wait until 2009 when the sewage treatment upgrades are completed before finishing their three proposed projects in the Route 322 area. Those 140 EDU's are the unused already-purchased capacity the township has. Rambo stressed it is not additional purchased capacity.

The DEP took time to review what Rambo gave them. They have officially now received word they would approve Rambo's request Bentley to receive the suggested sewage capacity. In addition, the DEP requested the township update their Act 537 plan. An Act 537 Plan is the official sewage facilities plan for the township. It determines the wastewater needs of the Township and evaluates alternatives to address those needs.

The board of supervisors voted unanimously to authorize the township engineer and township manager to begin work on the sewage treatment plan. Rambo stated no bid was needed for the work as it fit under the "professional services" agreement with township engineer.

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