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Successfully Enforced AntiDegradation Requirements for Mill Creek, in PA

Delaware Riverkeeper Network took successful legal action to compel the PA Department of Environmental Protection(PADEP) to comply with Anti-degradation and Sewage Facility Act requirements.

Delaware Riverkeeper Network challenged a PADEP order that Union Township, Berks County, revise its Sewage Facility Plan to allow a new pollution discharge from a proposed small flow sewage treatment facility, despite Union Township’s decision that other alternatives were better available for protection of the creek and serving building owner needs. The proposed sewage treatment facility would discharge directly into Mill Creek, a stream for which Delaware Riverkeeper Network had submitted an upgrade petition to redesignate as an Exceptional Value waterway due to its high quality waters.

Specifically, Delaware Riverkeeper Network appealed PADEP’s order to the Environmental Hearings Board alleging that PADEP failed to adequately: (1) consider DRN’s pending Redesignation Petition and related documentation to redesignate Mill Creek to an Exceptional Value stream; (2) comply with PA’s Anti-degradation laws, the Clean Streams Law, and Sewage Facilities Act; (3) evaluate project alternatives; and (4) consider the discharge’s ecological impact on downstream organisms or the social, economic, and public health impact on downstream residents.

As a result of a DRN’s legal challenge, PADEP evaluated DRN’s Redesignation Petition and upgraded the majority of the Mill Creek to Exceptional Value existing use status. PADEP also rescinded its order to Union Township and currently there is no direct sewage discharge proposed to the creek at the site.