Sewer Service Approved in New VE Zone

On February 2nd at the regular meeting of Delaware Township Municipal Utilities Authority (DTMUA), unanimous approval was given to Perimeter Properties LLC for sewer and water service for the development of the old Hokar property adjacent to the school. The DTMUA also will make application to the NJ DEP for a capacity assurance plan since the new service will cause the DTMUA to exceed 80% of its sewer treatment capacity.

The major obstacle to the developer obtaining DTMUA approval was its initial and preferred plan to use individual pumps in the homes to move waste into a forcemain connected to the main sewer line. The DTMUA objected to this plan because, in the board’s view, it creates problems as to responsibility for potential malfunctions in the forcemain. The DTMUA also was concerned with the proposed location of the forcemain under the public roadway, subject to rules and regulations of the Township, not the DTMUA’s responsibility.  Perimeter’s consulting engineers, Page Engineering, addressed DTMUA-engineer Dr. Higgins’ report by agreeing to all of Dr. Higgins’ recommendations and proposing an alternative method of feeding the main sewer line without a forcemain in the roadway.  The DTMUA’s approval is subject to the developer having all required state and county permits.

The DTMUA is moving forward with its requirement to submit a Capacity Assurance Plan (CAP) to the NJ DEP. This plan is required once a sewer authority exceeds 80% of its total sewer treatment capacity. The plan is required by the NJ DEP to evaluate the sewer authority’s ability to assure that it will not exceed its maximum capacity. The estimated cost for this plan is $40,000.

The agenda for the February 7th Delaware Township Planning Board meeting includes a request by Perimeter Properties for a waiver of the application checklist requirement, “Proof of Approval to Connect to the DTMUA Public Water and Sewer System,” but the need for that waiver is obviated by DTMUA’s approval. It is likely the Planning Board will hear the Perimeter Properties’ application at the March 7th meeting.

Separately, the DTMUA is facing other substantial issues at this time. Mr. Schroeher, DTMUA Chairman, expressed significant concerns that the CAP study may result in infrastructure modifications at significant expense to the DTMUA. He is reviewing a draft of a letter, which had previous unanimous support of DTMUA members that will recommend the Township pay for the CAP study. In addition the DTMUA may take the position that extraordinary costs incurred as a result of being subjected to additional DEP requirements under the CAP, should be paid by the Township. Despite the fact that future development of presently unimproved individual lots within the service area would put the sewer plant over NJDEP’s 80% limit, the DTMUA believes that the Township bears responsibility for newly incurred costs since the Township is attempting to satisfy its township-wide COAH obligations with this new development in Sergeantsville.

Yet another major issue facing the DTMUA is the new and more stringent water quality requirements for effluent from the sewer treatment plant proposed by the DEP as part of the DTMUA’s license renewal. The new requirements by the DEP require cleaner discharge into Rose Creek, a tributary of the Wickecheoke, which was classified as a C-1 stream, and as such receives the highest level of protection. These new standards allow for fewer amounts of various inorganic impurities (e.g., copper, zinc, phosphorous) and organic impurities (e.g., chloroform, cyanide). The requirements, if implemented, may result in significant investment ($500,000 – $1,000,000) in plant modifications to meet these new specifications, according to Chairman Schroeher. These potential costs are above those that may result from the CAP.  Although the DTMUA has fifty-nine months to develop a plan to meet the new requirements, the DTMUA has challenged the new DEP requirements. It is hallenging the requirements by collecting data about the levels of these various metals and compounds by sampling and testing the effluent of the plant and Rose Creek, where the effluent discharges. The DTMUA hopes the data will support their contention that more stringent requirements are not needed. In addition, the DTMUA is asking for a stay of the current permit until the data is collected and discussed with the NJ DEP, thereby allowing the DTMUA to operate under its previous permit with less stringent requirements.