On July 2, 2013, Governor Corbett signed Act 41 into law. Act 41 amends Pennsylvania’s Sewage Facilities Act providing that if septic systems are designed and approved in accordance with the Sewage Facilities Act, they are deemed to have satisfied Pennsylvania’s antidegradation requirements.
The legislation was in response to a November 10, 2011 decision of the Environmental Hearing Board (“EHB”) in the case of Pine Creek Valley Watershed Association, Inc. v DEP where the EHB reversed a decision that had approved a developer’s application for Planning Module Approval needed in connection with a planned nine lot subdivision in Berks County. The EHB rescinded the approval of a sewage plan because the treatment method proposed in the plan did not comply with the antidegradation regulations mandated by federal law.
The law is effective immediately. This legislation removes a significant obstacle in real estate law that slowed or prevented development in areas lacking public sewers particularly in areas near high quality or exceptional value watersheds.
Act 41 provides a statutory recognition that properly designed septic systems satisfy Pennsylvania’s antidegradation requirements.