For the New or Future Water Well Owner Homebuyer in Pennsylvania

Welcome to Pennsylvania and Welcome to Managing Your Own Small Water Company

In Pennsylvania,  there are generally no specific construction standards for private wells and there is only some general guidance with respect to well placement and construction.  Further, private well water is not regulated by the EPA or PADEP and therefore it is up to YOU to check your water to ensure that the well produces good clean and adequate water.    This is only a short summary of the information.  If you are interested we offer a Private Well Owner Training Course that can be offered as a Workshop for Your Community, Association, or other Organization.

There are a number of steps to this process and well will break them down as follows:

Well Placement
Well Construction
Well Testing (Yield and Quality)
Well Maintenance
Annual Water Testing

Well Placement
In general, the primary guidance with to water well placement in Pennsylvania is that a water well should be 100 feet from a septic system (regulated), 50 feet from a septic tank (regulated), 10 feet from a sewer line under pressure (regulated), and 10 feet from a property line. To be honest, these isolation distance do not consider impacts from other natural conditions or activities.  In general, we  would recommend the following:

1. If possible, the private well owner should control all activities within a 50 to  100 foot radius of the wellhead, i.e.., top of the water well. These activities should include: use of pesticides and herbicides, storage of toxic or hazardous chemicals, storage or management of manure and other waste, diversion of surface water and runoff, overuse of the area by grazing animals, location of burrow pits, burn pipes, rubbish storage, or storage of used cars or other items that may contain antifreeze, oils, and greases.
2. Well casing should extend at least 12 inches above grade.
3. Well should be fitted with a sanitary well cap that has some form of venting.
4. The well should be located at least 10 feet from a property line.

Other suggested isolation distances

Delineated wetlands or floodplains (25 feet)- with top of casing 3 feet above flood elevation.
Surface waters (25 feet) Storm water Systems (25 feet)
BioInfiltration Stormwater Systems (50 feet +)
Spray Irrigation/ Septage Disposal (100 feet+)
Sinkholes and Closed Depressions (100 feet +)
Farm silos / manure storage (200 feet) Septic Systems (100 feet)
Septic Tanks/Holding Tanks (50 feet)
Chemical Storage/Preparation Area (300 feet)

Well Construction

1. Prefer the use of steel casing that extends at least 15 feet to 20 feet into firm bedrock or 60 feet below ground, whichever is greater.
2. Casing should be of  adequate wall thickness to deal with corrosion and stress – 19lb casing.
3. The base of the casing should contain a driveshoe on the bottom of the casing and casing centralized in the borehole.
4. Wells drilled by a licensed well driller using only potable water as the drilling fluid.
5. Casing should be double circumferential welded or threaded casing
6. Well caps should be sanitary well caps that are properly vented.
7. Annular space should have a grout layer that is at least 1.5 inches thick.
8. Pitless adapters should be used over well pits.

Well Testing (Yield and Quality)

After the well is drilled, the well should be developed using surging, air-lift, or pumping the well.  This is done to clean out the well cuttings and improve yield.  In some cases, this needs to be done to improve the efficiency of the borehole. If the well yield is low, some well drillers will hydrofrac the well. If you are going to hydrofrac a water well, we recommend zone hydraulic fracturing to isolate the deeper potential water-bearing zones.   After the well development has been completed, a shock wellbore disinfection should be conducted.  The well should be allowed to fully recover and a minimum 2-hour yield test is recommend.  After the yield testing, the well should be shock disinfected.  For information on shock disinfection – we recommend visiting Water-Research Center.   The well yield data should include the static water level (water level before pumping), maximum dynamic water level (maximum depth to water during pumping), pumping rate, and length of the pumping test.  This data should be included on the well log and the specific capacity of the well should be reported.  The specific capacity is the rate of yield or gallons per minute per foot of drawdown.  The drawdown is the difference between the static and dynamic water level measurement. 

Before the end of the yield testing, it is recommended that a general water quality analysis of the well be conducted.  This testing should include bacterial quality, general water quality, and specific parameters that are known problems for your region.  Do not rely on a free water analysis or a basic water quality screening down by the well driller.  This should be either information or certified testing conducted by a laboratory.  For information on this type of testing, please contact the Keystone Clean Water Team or the Water-Research Center.   The initial water quality testing data should be reviewed and evaluated.  The first well or city water quality test should be a comprehensive water quality check.  If you are want informational water testing, we would recommend either the Well Water Check or the City Water Check Option. This evaluation should include the need for any further action to improve the well security, continue with well development, or add equipment to improve well water quality.  In some cases, water treatment systems are installed as an additional barrier or layer of protection.  In many cases, the only type of additional treatment that is needed is a whole-house particle filter and a sanitary well cap.  For information on Do-it-Yourself Water Treatment Systems.

Well and System Maintenance

At a minimum, the well water system should go through an annual inspection.  This inspection could be associated with the annual water quality test or inspection of any water treatment systems.  During this evaluation, the aesthetic quality of the water should be evaluated and some basic field water quality screening should be conducted.   For the field water screening, it is possible this can be done using a number of low-cost meters or an informational water quality screening test.

Annual Water Testing

Depending on the results of the initial evaluation, the results should be evaluated to determine what are the water quality parameters that should be monitored to help track the general water quality of the well.  If a water treatment system was installed, the annual water quality evaluation should include the performance of the water treatment system.  If you need help with determining what you need, WE can Help – Here is a partial listing of the informational water screening tests !  The Keystone Clean Water Team can provide guidance on the selection of water quality parameters, review water quality data, and make recommendations on the water quality parameters.  At a minimum, the Keystone Clean Water Team offers a Health Screen Test (only $ 50 if you have the sample bottles (video)) and testing includes bacteria, pH, conductivity, iron, manganese (if suspected), nitrate, total dissolved solids, total hardness, and alkalinity (Health Screen Test Order Form).    If you are interested, you may want to obtain a copy of our Educational Booklet and Brochure.

To Review a Number of our Case Studies – Common Private Well Problems and Fixes.

Everything we do began with an idea.

We have offered “Free” Assistance to this effort, but if you are a private well owner that needs assistance we are happy to help.

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.  Get YOUR WATER Tested – Discounted Screening Tests !

For more information, please go to CCGG’s About Page or contact us.  Follow us on Twitter 

Keystone Clean Water Team is a 501(c)(3) IRS approved nonprofit, volunteer organization and your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.    Unsolicited donations are appreciated (Helps us complete our mission), but we also do local educational workshops and local cellphone/small electronic recycling programs. If you would like to set up a program to help recycle cellphones at an event, business, or other organization.  Through our program we can recycle  cell phones, iPods, game systems, and small digital cameras.  If your interested, please contact us.

Help the Organization and Get Your Water Tested or Order the Private Well Owner Guide (proceeds benefit This Organization).  Keystone Clean Water Team!

Pleasantville man Indicted Falsely Claiming to Plug a Well

Pleasantville man indicted in environmental case

“By LISA THOMPSON, Erie Times-News

A Pleasantville man was indicted Tuesday on charges he violated federal law by falsely claiming amid an injection-well-permitting process that he had plugged abandoned Elk County oil wells when he had not.   The person, Mr. Wright (edit since is only charged and indicted), age 44, faces three felony charges of “false writing or document to the government” stemming from events that occurred between September 2009 and April 2011, the government said.

The charges carry a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a $750,000 fine. Wright remains free while awaiting arraignment. According to the indictment filed by a federal grand jury sitting in Erie, Pleasantville-based S & T Services and Supply Inc. contracted with ARG Resources Inc. to plug abandoned oil wells so that ARG would be in compliance with its injection-well-permitting process under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Wright was then hired by S & T Services to perform the well plugging. The government charges that Wright filed three false Certificates of Well Plugging claiming he had properly plugged three Elk County abandoned oil wells when he had not. The Environmental Protection Agency then relied on those certificates while issuing permits for Class II injection wells, the government said. Fluids associated with oil and natural gas drilling, including brine, are deposited in Class II injection wells. The approval process for the injection wells in question required all wells within a quarter-mile of the injection well site to have been plugged, the government said.

“When individuals knowingly submit false reports or data to the government as alleged in this case, our ability to protect public health and the environment is undermined,” said David G. McLeod Jr., special agent in charge of the EPA’s criminal enforcement program for mid-Atlantic states. “Anyone thinking about submitting false information should seriously consider today’s indictment. EPA and its partner agencies will not hesitate to seek prosecution of those who violate our nation’s environmental laws.” The EPA, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Forest Service investigated the case, which is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marshall Piccinini.”

LISA THOMPSON can be reached at 870-1802 or by e-mail. Follow her on Twitter at


My question to Lisa Thompson

1. How was this discovered???
2. Clearly demonstrates that Safe Drinking Water Act in Play in PA.
Notified of this by: Laurie Barr –


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.  We look for people that can forward solid articles, help coordinate local education efforts, and more.  Become part of the Keystone Clean Water Team!.

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.  Get YOUR WATER Tested – Discounted Screening Tests !

For more information, please go to CCGG’s About Page or contact us.

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.  Unsolicited donations are appreciated.

Help the Organization and Get Your Water Tested or Order the Private Well Owner Guide (proceeds benefit This Organization).

The Potential for Waterborne Spread of MRSA

One Bad Bug

By Kelly A. Reynolds, MSPH, PhD , Associate Professor at the University of Arizona College of Public Health

The emergence and increased prevalence of the ‘superbug’ bacterium known as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), has raised questions as to the routes of transmission related to disease. Reports of MRSA infections in the general population and evidence of the bacteria surviving in wastewater, tap water and drinking water biofilms creates alarm in the public and warrants a discussion of whether or not MRSA infections occur from tapwater exposures.

Read more (pdf)

The Potential for Waterborne Spread of MRSA

DEP calls for further probe of wildcat sewers
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
By JACOB SEIBEL TN Correspondent

Unpermitted sewer lines that discharge untreated sewage, known as wildcat sewers, have officially delayed the nearly decade-long Act 537 project for West Penn Township and Walker Township.

With the plan supposed to be finished by the end of December before what supervisors hoped to be the start of the implementation process of fixing defective sewers in the township, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has called for further investigation into the wildcat  sewers.

Although an investigation of the wildcats was unavoidable, West Penn Township Solicitor Gretchen Sterns and Township Engineer Ronald B. Madison, PE hoped that it could be done while the project was being worked on. They said there is no sense to delay the project to investigate a problem that they already know is there.

“I find that it is unbelievable, quite frankly,” Sterns said at last evening’s supervisor meeting, “that DEP showed great concern that there are areas where these wildcat sewers are where you literally have black water is coming out, causing a huge pollution concern, but their response is not to fix it. Their response is lets study it some more. I’m appalled, frankly, by that result.”

“Unfortunately, it’s more time and more expense,” Madison said.

The estimated cost for West Penn and Walker Township since the planning phase of Act 537 began in 2003 up this point has been $356,107.

A West Penn Township board of supervisors reorganization meeting will be Monday, Jan. 7 at 6 p.m. in the municipal building.

PennPIRG releases report on threat of nuclear power to PA drinking water

PennPIRG releases report on threat of nuclear power to PA drinking water

The Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group (PennPIRG) Education Fund has released new data on how nuclear power plants are a threat to the drinking water for Pennsylvanians in a report, “Too Close To Home: Nuclear Power and the Threat to Drinking Water.”

The March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster delivered a reminder to the world that nuclear power comes with inherent risks when a large amount of radioactive material escaped into the environment over the ensuing months. Drinking water sources as far as 130 miles from the plant were contaminated with radioactive iodine, prompting cities such as Tokyo to warn against consumption of the water by infants.

In the United States, 49 million Americans receive their drinking water from surface sources located within 50 miles of an active nuclear power plant – inside the boundary the Nuclear Regulatory Commission uses to assess risk to food and water supplies.

According to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Americans in 35 states drink water from sources within 50 miles of nuclear power plants. New York has the most residents drawing drinking water from sources near power plants, with the residents of New York City and its environs making up most of the total. Pennsylvania has the second most, including residents of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Harrisburg.

The attached full report provides more information on the risks nuclear power poses and suggestions on how to reduce such risks.

PennPIRG- Too Close To Home Report (pdf)

Penn State Master Well Owner volunteer training opportunities in 2012

Penn State Extension will be offering several training workshops for new Master Well Owner Volunteers in 2012. The six week online course will begin on February 6, 2012. Two Saturday training workshops will also be offered this spring in McKean and Butler Counties. More details on these training workshops, including a link to the online application, are provided below.

Upcoming Training Opportunities for New Master Well Owner Volunteers Pennsylvania is home to over one million private water wells and springs but it is one of the few states that do not provide statewide regulations to protect these rural drinking water supplies. In 2004, Penn State Cooperative Extension and several partner agencies created the Master Well Owner Network (MWON), a group of trained volunteers who are dedicated to promoting the proper construction, testing, and maintenance of private water wells, springs and cisterns throughout Pennsylvania. Since its inception, hundreds of MWON volunteers have been trained in 64 counties throughout Pennsylvania. These volunteers have, in turn, educated tens of thousands of private water system owners across the state.

In 2012, persons interested in becoming a trained Master Well Owner volunteer will have three opportunities.

1) Online MWON volunteer training will occur between February 6, 2012 and March 19, 2012. Volunteers in the online training receive weekly emails containing links to relevant reading in the MWON handbook (A Guide to Private Water Systems in Pennsylvania), a 45-minute video presentation for each chapter, and a short online exam. Participants in online training will largely be able to determine their own training schedule. Volunteers with questions can attend one optional live online meeting at the end of the course. Participants must score a cumulative 70% on all of the online exams to be certified as a MWON volunteer.

2) A standard, Saturday MWON volunteer training workshop will be offered in Butler County (location TBA) on March 24, 2012 from 9 AM until 3:30 PM. Participants will hear presentations from Penn State water specialists, well drillers and other experts. As with the online course, volunteers at the Saturday workshops must score at least 70% on a final exam to be certified.

3) Another standard, Saturday MWON volunteer training workshop will be offered in Smethport, PA (McKean County) on April 21, 2012 from 9 AM to 3:30 PM.

Volunteers who successfully complete any of these training courses and pass the exam(s) will receive a free copy of the 80 page publication – A Guide to Private Water Systems in Pennsylvania, a coupon good for a 10% discount on water testing through the Penn State water testing lab, and access to various MWON educational materials. In return, MWON volunteers are asked to pass along what they have learned to other private water supply owners and submit an annual report of their educational accomplishments.

Prospective volunteers need to submit an application and be accepted into the program. Applications for the online course will only be accepted through January 31, 2012. Applications for the Saturday workshops will be accepted up to one week before the workshop. To be eligible for any MWON training, applicants must not be affiliated with any business that works directly with private water system owners such as employees of water well drilling companies, water testing laboratories or water treatment businesses.

To learn more and the Master Well Owner Network, visit

To complete an application to participate in one of the MWON volunteer trainings listed above, visit

Note From Carbon County Groundwater Guardians –  Consider coming back and helping our efforts – Looking for Volunteers Statewide. 

For your information, we wanted to point out a few other resources

1. Mail Order Water Testing Kits or consider using a local water testing laboratory.  The mail order testing is done by a Nationally Certified Laboratory and a portion of the proceeds that help support this organization.
2. New Education Guide for Private Well Owners in PA – What do the numbers mean and Insights into Baseline Water Testing? (Proceeds Benefit this Organization- free online read only version)
3. Our Online FREE Library of Pdf, videos, powerpoint presenations for private well owners.
4. Our New Flier 

More Free Webinars

New study determines states offer inadequate coal ash protection
Thursday, August 25, 2011

A new study finds that state regulations regarding coal ash disposal are inadequate to protect public health and drinking water supplies for nearby communities. The information comes as federal regulations – the first of their kind – are under attack by a hostile Congress bent on derailing any effort to ensure strong, federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash, America’s second largest industrial waste stream.

Earthjustice and Appalachian Mountain Advocates (formerly the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment) released “State of Failure: How states fail to protect our health and drinking water from toxic coal ash,” a review of state regulations in 37 states, which together comprise over 98 percent of all coal ash generated nationally. The study highlights the lack of state-based regulations for coal ash disposal and points to the 12 worst states when it comes to coal ash dumping: Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, South Carolina and Virginia.

There are currently nearly 700 coal ash ponds and hundreds of coal ash landfills in the U.S., most of which operate without adequate liners and water quality monitoring, and have been operating as such for decades. Most states do not require coal ash dumps to employ the most basic safeguards required at landfills for household garbage.

State of Failure includes detailed information on basic disposal safeguards, such as groundwater monitoring, liners, isolation of ash from the water table, and financial assurance requirements in 37 states where coal ash is currently generated and disposed.

Coal ash is the toxic remains of coal-fired power plants; enough is generated each year to fill train cars stretching from the North Pole to the South Pole. The ash contains toxic metals, including arsenic, hexavalent chromium, lead, mercury, and selenium. Coal ash is commonly dumped into unlined and unmonitored ponds and landfills. There are well over a hundred documented sites where coal ash has contaminated drinking water or surface water.

The EPA is currently considering a federal proposal to regulate coal ash that includes two options: the first option would classify coal ash as hazardous waste, requiring water quality monitoring, liners and the phase out of dangerous “wet” storage of coal ash, such as the pond that collapsed in Kingston, Tennessee in 2008. The second option would continue to allow states to inadequately regulate coal ash by establishing only guidelines that states are free to ignore. Within the industry, coal ash generators support the weaker option. The EPA, under pressure from industry, has postponed finalizing the coal ash standard until 2012.

But coal ash allies in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives are not content with delay. Two bills currently moving through the House seek to undermine any efforts by the EPA to set federal enforceable safeguards for coal ash disposal. Both bills require EPA to let the states – and the states alone – decide how to regulate ash, with little federal oversight.

“This report proves unequivocally that state programs, without federal mandates or oversight, are a recipe for disaster when it comes to protecting our health and our environment,” said Lisa Evans, senior legislative counsel at Earthjustice and a co-author of the study. “Strong, federally enforceable safeguards are needed to guarantee that our drinking water remains free of arsenic, lead, mercury and other toxic metals found in coal ash. The myth that states are doing a good job protecting Americans from coal ash is busted.”

“The problem with relying on state regulations is that they are not designed for the unique problems of coal ash generally and coal ash impoundments particularly,” said Mike Becher, the Equal Justice Works Fellow at Appalachian Mountain Advocates. “While many coal ash impoundments are regulated by state dam safety programs, these programs were developed to deal with dams holding back water, not toxic substances. State solid waste programs, on the other hand, are not used to dealing with large impoundments and the threat of a catastrophic dam failure like the one seen in Tennessee in 2008.”

Tamaqua residents seek help in connecting to sewer line

By LIZ PINKEY TN Correspondent
Wednesday, July 20, 2011

LIZ PINKEY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Daniel Lattanzi, who could be facing a $25,000 bill to connect to the sewer main, called the wildcat sewer situation in Tamaqua a "moral issue" and requested that the borough provide some relief for residents facing large bills as they connect to the sanitary sewer.

Members of Tamaqua’s Borough Council got an earful last night from several citizens who are unhappy about the fact that they are responsible for footing the bill to connect to the sanitary sewer, after years of illegally, and in most cases, unknowingly, discharging waste into the Wabash Creek.

Although the project and its expense have people upset, one of the other issues that came to light at last night’s meeting is the fact that by delaying the investigation of the problem the borough may have caused citizens to miss out on opportunities to seek outside funding or loans to help finance the project.

Anna Brose, of 249 West Broad St., said that the first letter she received regarding the problem and explaining that dye testing would be completed in the future was in 2008.

“It has taken three years to have the dye test done. I have a problem with that,” she said. “There is no financial aid available. Two years ago, three years ago, there was money available. Now there is nothing.”

Brose went on to say that she had received a letter from the borough stating that there was money available through the USDA and through Schuylkill Community Action.

“That money has dried up,” she said. “Schuylkill Community Action said their funding dried up two years ago.”

Brose said she could take a low interest loan through the borough, but still balked at the cost.

“I have paid a lot of money to the borough, as have a lot of people in this room,” she said, referring to the estimated $9,200 she has paid in sewer bills over the last 30 years. “We just can’t absorb this amount of money, when this could have been done how long ago and money would have been available,” she said.

Borough President Micah Gursky agreed that the situation is not a good one. However, he stood by the borough’s process.

“Everyone agrees that it should have been done a long time ago,” he said. “Our initial plan was to dye test the properties, but the cost was much higher than we could afford as a borough. That was the delay. We were trying to figure out options, how to figure out who needed to hook up.”

Gursky also said this is not the first time that the borough has had to deal with properties where the owners believed that they were connected to the public system and were in fact, not.

“It happens from time to time,” he said. “Unfortunately, everyone is required to hook up.”

Councilman Tom Cara said that the borough was willing to “let this thing go on because we didn’t want to put the burden on you.” However, Gursky disagreed.

“You can’t flush your toilet into the creek,” he said.

Resident Kevin Kellner, who lost his home at 5 South Lehigh St. in a fire on July 5, was one of the property owners who was notified that he was not connected. Kellner said that his lawyer had advised him that the residents will be required to pay to connect to the sewer, however, he told him that he should recoup the money that he has paid to the borough over the years in sewer bills.

Gursky said that the borough has “been down that road before” and does not expect that the borough will be required to reimburse residents. Kellner also asked why DEP has not been held accountable for the cleanup of local waterways, including the Wabash and the Panther Creek.

Another unfortunate issue with the timing of the project has to deal with the Streetscape project that was recently completed along sections of Broad Street. Many of the property owners will be required to dig through the new sidewalks and pavers and replace them in order to connect to the sewer main.

“Yeah, we’re kicking ourselves because we’re going to have to cut into new sidewalks,” said Gursky.

One resident could be looking at an even larger project. Daniel Lattanzi, of 403 E. Broad St., is facing an estimated $25,000 in bills as he would need to connect to a main located on the other side of Broad Street, which would necessitate digging all the way across Route 209. Lattanzi has lived at the seven unit apartment complex since 1950 and owned it since 1962. Although he said he could pursue a cheaper alternative and install a grinder pump and avoid crossing 209, he has no control over what is going into that pump and is not willing to risk incurring more expense for the continual upkeep of the pump.

“I can’t get a bit of help. We’ve been hung out to dry,” he said, calling it a “moral issue.”

“I feel the borough should do something,” he added.

Another resident, Maria Burke, of Rowe Street, asked what will happen to residents who cannot comply with the Aug. 31 deadline. Burke expressed the frustration that many residents feel at being told they are breaking the law.

“I don’t want my crap going in the freaking creek. Who does? We want to do the right thing,” she said, but she indicated that with a newborn at home, she may not be able to find the money and additionally, trying to find a plumber to complete the work by Aug. 31 is going to be difficult with more than 40 properties needing to be addressed.

“We’re begging you,” she said to council members, “be an advocate for us.”

Councilman Brian Connelly said that the borough will contact other offices, including U.S. Rep. Tim Holden, to see if there is any aid that can be made available to residents.

However, he and other council members are not optimistic that funding will be forthcoming, especially not by the Aug. 31 deadline.

Borough manager Kevin Steigerwalt said that the borough will definitely need to ask DEP for an extension. The Tamaqua Public Library has already missed its deadline to connect to a lateral on a neighboring property and will need to look at another alternative.

Steigerwalt said that DEP has been advised of that situation and has not approved or denied an extension request, it has just asked that it be corrected as soon as possible.

40 Tamaqua property owners given 60 days to connect to sewer system
Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Exposed PVC pipe lies behind the Tamaqua Public Library leading into the Wabash Creek.

Forty Tamaqua property owners are being given 60-day notices to stop discharging wastewater directly to the Wabash Creek culvert and to connect to Tamaqua’s municipal sewer system. The work is to be done at property owners’ expense.

The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued an order to the borough last December to investigate and remove all illegal sewage discharges to the creek, which runs under downtown Tamaqua from South Lehigh Street to Rowe Street and then to South Railroad Street.

The deadline to comply with this order is Aug. 31.

The borough hired Alfred Benesch Company and A One Service, Shenandoah, to investigate both the Wabash Creek and Panther Creek, which runs through eastern portions of Tamaqua, for the sources of any possible illegal sewage discharge, aka wildcats. Inspections of the creeks were performed between March 1 and March 31. Initially, 56 connections were found to have active sanitary connections to the Wabash Creek culvert, with dry residue indicating recent sanitary connections.

Investigators used special equipment and cameras. The notice, given to affected property owners about a month ago, states, “In accordance with the DEP order and Borough Ordinance No. 304, you are hereby notified to stop discharging sewage to the Wabash Creek and connect your property to the municipal sewer system within 60 days of your receipt of this notice.”

Receiving the notice were homes and business owners on South Lehigh Street, West Broad Street, Spruce Street, Rowe Street and South Railroad Street. The notice also states that if a property owner fails to correct the illegal sewer discharge within 60 days of receiving the notice, the matter will be referred to the code enforcement officer and borough solicitor for legal action.

Some property owners are upset with the short notice and unexpected financial burden this has placed on them. Ann Brose, 249 West Broad St., said that it will cost approximately $7,000 to connect to the sewer system.

“I have to pay to dig into the second lane of SR209 to hook up to the sewer. I never knew my sewage wasn’t connected to the borough’s system,” adding, “I want to do what’s right, but not 30 years after I purchased my house.”

Brose, who pointed out that she doesn’t qualify for low interest loans, added, “I’ve paid the borough $9,200 over 30 years for sewer and now I have to pay to connect to a sewer system I thought I was already connected to.” Brose and other affected property owners are expected to attend tonight’s borough council meeting to bring up their concerns.

A summary of required steps was also given with the notice. The summary lists detailed instructions concerning steps required to connect to the borough’s sanitary sewer system, as well as a Building Sewer Permit Application. Current sewer customers do not have to pay the borough’s $2,000 first-time sewer connection charge.

Low and moderate income property owners may qualify for financial assistance for construction of their sewer connection. Kevin Steigerwalt, Tamaqua borough manager, stated that property owners can save on construction expenses by consolidating contract work with other affected property owners.

Assistance may be available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Schuylkill Community Action and the Tamaqua Borough’s Community Development Department. Affected residents are encouraged to contact Steigerwalt or Rob Jones, Tamaqua public works director, at (570) 668-3444 or (570) 668-0300 with any questions or concerns.

Autism Experts Urge Reform of U.S. Chemicals Law

WASHINGTON, DC, June 8, 2011 (ENS) – Environmental health and autism experts Tuesday called for reform of the outdated U.S. law regulating chemicals, the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976.
They warned that the recent sharp rise in autism is likely due, in part, to the cocktail of toxic chemicals that pregnant women, fetuses, babies and young children encounter.

“Lead, mercury, and other neurotoxic chemicals have a profound effect on the developing brain at levels that were once thought to be safe. With some complex combination of insults, little brains reach a tipping point,” warned Donna Ferullo, director of program research at The Autism Society, told reporters on a conference call convened by the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Coalition.

The nationwide coalition represents more than 11 million people, including parents, health professionals, advocates for people with learning and developmental disabilities, reproductive health advocates, environmentalists and businesses.

Today in the United States, about one in every 110 children has autism, a disorder of neural development characterized by abnormalities of social interactions and communication, severely restricted interests and highly repetitive behavior. Boys are affected more than girls – one in every 70 boys will have autism.

Ferullo called autism the “fastest growing developmental disability in the United States.”

“It has increased 600 percent in the last two decades – 1.5 million Americans are living with autism,” she said. “This epidemic within one generation cannot be solely accounted for by genetic causes, or wider diagnostic criteria or even increased awareness.”
Read more