We have seen it all too often. A project is nearing completion, final approval is on the horizon, and the question arises- did you receive sewage facilities planning approval?  If the answer is no, sit back and get comfortable because your project, which was slated to break ground in 3 weeks, won’t be receiving final approval for potentially 6-9 months. Below is a quick reference guide to Sewage Facility Planning Exemptions and Waivers help prevent a situation like the one we just described and potentially streamline the planning process.

Exemptions and Waivers – What are they?

Waivers from sewage facilities planning are given to projects that don’t meet the definition of a subdivision and lot per Chapter 71 definitions.  If the lot is existing or not deemed to be subdivided due to estimated sewage flows or due to the nature of the project, a waiver can be granted.

Exemptions from planning are a streamlined process to obtain sewage facilities planning approval and can be applied for when the conditions of Chapter 71, Section 71. 51(b)(1) and (2) have been met.

In general, projects proposing on-lot systems may be eligible for an exemption if:

  • The municipality’s Act 537 Plan indicates that the area in which the project is located is to be served by on-lot systems, and
  • The area proposed for use of an on-lot system is not underlain by carbonate geology nor is this area located within ¼ mile of water supplies documented to exceed 5 PPM nitrate-nitrogen, and
  • The area proposed for development is outside of high quality or exceptional value watersheds, and
  • Subdivided lots and the remaining portion of the original tract after subdivision are 1 acre or larger, and
  • Soils testing and site evaluations establish that separate, permittable sites are available for primary and replacement areas.

In general, projects proposing a connection to or extension of public sewers may be eligible for an exemption if:

  • The existing collection, conveyance, and treatment facilities are in compliance with The Clean Streams Law and the rules and regulations thereunder, and
  • The receiving sewerage facilities do not have an existing hydraulic or organic overload or a 5-year projected overload, and
  • Written certification documenting that there is adequate capacity from all of the permittees of the collection, conveyance, and treatment facilities has been provided to the municipality.  The certification must indicate that there is a capacity to receive and treat the sewage flows from the proposed project and that the additional waste load from the proposed project will not create a hydraulic or organic overload or a 5-year projected overload, and
  • The municipality has a current approved sewage facilities plan which is being implemented.

Estimated Sewage Flows and “Deemed” Subdivisions: If there is no physical subdivision of land and:

  • If the proposed additional flows are less than 400 gpd (gallons per day) and regardless of the total flows of the property (even if they are over 800 gpd), the property is not deemed to have been subdivided;
  • If the proposed flows are 400 gpd or more and the total flows for the property are less than 800 gpd the property is not deemed subdivided
  • If the proposed flows are 400 gpd or greater and the total flows for the property are 800 gpd or more, the property is deemed subdivided.  Therefore, sewage facilities planning is required and may be completed as an exemption (if applicable) or an adopted sewage facilities planning module.

What if your project proposes a lot line change or a subdivision for non-building purposes (agricultural lots, for example)?

  • Projects proposing a lot line change or a subdivision for non-building purposes may submit the Request for Planning Waiver and Non-Building Declaration (formerly known as the Form B). The Southeast Regional Office also routinely accepts an application mailer, along with a short narrative and a plot plan, for projects of these types and if acceptable, will respond to the applicant, indicating that sewage facilities planning is not required.

For any and all questions relating to Sewage Facilities Planning, and the ability to streamline the process, please give us a call at (610) 918-9002 and we will be more than happy to discuss all of the planning options.