LEEPER - The Farmington Township Board of Supervisors this month joined townships across the state in formally stating their opposition to state Senate Bill 597.
Farmington's opposition came at the urging of the PA Rural Water Association. The Pennsylvania Municipal League and the Pennsylvania Association of Township Commissioners have also voiced opposition to the bill.
According to the state senate website, Senate Bill 597 is an act amending Title66 (Public Utilities) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, "providing for water and wastewater asset management plans."
In a letter to Farmington Township, PA Rural Water Association spokesperson Joseph Falcone said the bill appears to have the primary purpose of driving municipalities and small private entities out of the water and wastewater business through new unnecessary regulatory requirements and costs.
"Of considerably concern are the significant costs associated with implementation of the bill's requirements for items such as meter testing, mapping, security plans and engineering studies while at the same time prohibiting systems from obtaining funding for these same activities," wrote Falcone. "Small and rural systems would not have the reserves to meet these requirements. Their only recourse would be to pass these costs on to their customers. The end result being a significant increase in consumer monthly water and wastewater bills."
Farmington Township owns and operates its own public water and sewerage systems.
Other Clarion County municipalities that could be affected by the legislation are Knox Borough, Foxburg Borough, Salem Township, Beaver Township, Knox Township and any other municipality that owns and operates a water or sewerage collection and treatment system.
"The concepts of asset management and distribution/collection system routine and preventative maintenance are valid goals," wrote Falcone. "There are many industry associations and (state Department of Environmental Protection) programs that assist systems with goals outlined in SB 597.
"(Those) systems do work very hard every day to keep their systems operating for the safety of their customers and the environment at a reasonable cost. We can attest from real world experience that these same goals, if they were regulatory requirements and the increased costs to consumers, would be financially devastating to Pennsylvania's small and rural municipalities and their water and wastewater systems."