Aqua Update 1/29/21
January 29, 2021
In late October we were notified by Aqua that they would not be issuing hook-up permits in Masthope. Their representative was in contact with management, at that time they were working with DEP to determine how they would move forward.
Without a permit from Aqua the township could not issue building permits. They were able to issue permits to projects that were already underway.
Management and the BOD President participated in a zoom meeting with Aqua, PA DEP and Lackawaxen Township officials. At that meeting we learned that the sewage treatment plant was operating over its design capacity of 100,000 gallons per day. With the onset of Covid and many people moving to Masthope on a semi-permanent or permanent basis there were times when the flow was more than 250,000 gallons per day. Aqua did use temporary mitigation equipment to treat the effluent so there was no damage to the environment and no violations issued by DEP. What became very apparent is that the treatment plant was built to service a community of second homes and as Masthope grew the plant should have also been expanded.
In that meeting alternative or temporary measures to address the problem were also discussed including the use of holding tanks for new construction, this is not permissible. We also discussed the use of on-lot disposal systems. As we all know Masthope is governed by multiple documents with the most senior being the covenants/declarations. This document may only be changed by a 67% positive vote of all members of the community. Very specifically addressed in this document is the fact that all homes in the community be attached to the central water and sewer system. The Board has been asked by members to waive this requirement, they cannot, it would be a violation which could bring legal scrutiny to the Board and community.
Conversations have been had with the PA Public Utility Commission who governs public utilities, they would not get involved in this matter unless Aqua flat refused to service the community. They believe that Aqua is acting in good faith to find a viable solution and will return to normal service as quickly as possible.
A conversation was also had with the PA Consumers Advocates office who offered similar sentiment as the PUC. Individuals can reach out to both agencies to express their concerns.
Communications continue with Aqua, they recently attended a Lackawaxen township planning commission meeting where they discussed amending their operating permit. This is a long process that must first be approved by the township prior to submission to DEP, once at DEP there will be a period of public notice then review and hearings prior to approval. Aqua has had engineers working on this problem since the day they realized they had a problem.
Aqua has also been given permission to do soil testing in the area surrounding the Sewage Treatment Plant in an effort to explore other types of disposal systems.
Aqua has provided service in the community for approximately 10 years, during that time we have seen many improvements to both the water and sewer facilities. They have installed miles of new watermains, replaced the leaking water tower, upgraded the many pump stations in the community and have participated in road resurfacing projects upon completion of their projects.
We understand this situation has caused hardship to some members, but we also believe that Aqua is working diligently to improve the system and return to full service for the entire community.