Sergeantsville Sewer Treatment Capacity Is Approaching a Critical Point

Wednesday, October 26, 2005
By Steve Pasternack

by Roger Harris & Steve Pasternack

Unless you live in Sergeantsville, you may not be aware there is a sewage treatment plant in our township. The Delaware Township Municipal Utilities Authority (DTMUA) was established in 1965. Its service area is the village of Sergeantsville. The DTMUA operates under its own budget, separate from the Township’s and funded by its users. The well for the DTMUA is located opposite the Sergeantsville Grain & Feed on top of the hill – easily spotted by the prominent green water tank. The sewage treatment plant is located opposite and just past the PNC bank (when heading south on Route 523). The DTMUA is a separate public body from the Township government, as set out in New Jersey statutes pursuant to municipal authorities. However, members of the DTMUA are appointed by the Township Committee. 

Recently, the DTMUA commissioned its engineer, Dr. Andrew Higgins, of Applied Water Management, Inc to determine the plant’s growth capacity. Dr. Higgins’ report of October 4, 2005 shows that there is potential growth capacity of forty-seven units.

There are two parts to the DTMUA‘s capacity; one is the sewage treatment capacity and the second is the well water capacity. The sewage treatment capacity is further determined by two factors – the hydraulic capacity which could be described as the actual volume of waste that can be held at any given time and the treatment capacity (pollutant loading) the ability to treat that waste. Both of these growth studies point to the number 47 as an acceptable limit to the number of new units, but there is more to the story.

Dr. Higgins’ study (see full report) indicates that adding forty-seven new customers would put the DTMUA close to one hundred percent of its capacity. However state regulations require that upon reaching eighty percent of capacity, the DTMUA must have a “capacity assurance plan” – a study that will assure the NJDEP that the rated capacity of the plant will not be exceeded.  Once this plan is approved by NJDEP, additional flow can be safely accepted, up to the rated capacity of the plant.

Of those forty-seven potential units the DTMUA could serve, five units are dedicated to the senior citizen housing to be built off Higgins Farm Road in Sergeantsville and five units are planned for any future expansion of the township school. Nineteen units have also been previously reserved for certain property owners within the village. That leaves eighteen units for future development in the newly created VE Zone (see related article), triggering the need for the capacity assurance plan. Recently, at both Township Committee and Planning Board meetings, concern has been expressed about bumping up against this limitation because the Township’s plan to comply with its affordable housing requirement is largely dependent on the existence of sewer hookups.

The cost of developing and implementing the capacity assurance plan is unknown. When Dr. Higgins was asked for an approximate cost, he said he could not estimate it. In the cover letter to Dr. Higgins’ report the DTMUA wrote the Township Committee, Planning Board and other departments that the DTMUA will not pay for the plan. Township officials are discussing various means to pay for such a plan. Among the ideas being considered are payment for the study/plan by developers, payment from the Township’s COAH funds, and a NJ smart growth grant.

Other posts by Steve Pasternack

4 Responses to “Sergeantsville Sewer Treatment Capacity Is Approaching a Critical Point”

  1. Lorraine Cagliostro

    “…Of those forty-seven potential units the DTMUA could serve, five units are dedicated to the senior citizen assisted living housing to be built off Higgins Farm Road in Sergeantsville…”

    However, since Dr. Higgins’ study does indicate that the 10 senior residence apartments have been allocated 5 units, what size does the dwelling have to be before it is allocated only 1 unit?
    Also, the senior residence was not propsed or planned as an “assisted living” residence. Has that changed?

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  2. Roger Harris

    Lorraine, you are correct. The senior residence apartments are NOT “assisted living”. Nothing has changed – it is our mistake. Thanks for the eagle-eye. The article now reads correctly.

    Regarding the “unit allocation” for the ten residences; that is something that was agreed to between the DTMUA and the township, since these residences are one-bedroom. As to whether or not there is some square-footage threshold for determining the sewer units, the DTMUA would be the best source for that information.

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  3. Lorraine Cagliostro

    Thank you, Roger, for that clarification regarding the senior housing.

    As far as “the “unit allocation” is concerned, perhaps someone from DMTUA would be good enough to explain further; depending upon their criteria for determining the allocation of the remaining 18 units, potentially twice as many dwellings may be able to be be serviced, which could make a difference in the townships ability to meet it’s current COAH obligations since the plan, as stated above is largely dependent upon the existence of sewer hookups.

    Clearly a course of action must be formulated to develop a capacity assurance plan..including a determination of cost. Therefore, if DTMUA’s as of yet unknown criteria for unit allocation results in the 18 units equating current capacity for 36 dwellings, the township would have much more time within which to formulate a comprehensive plan that will insure that future COAH obligations can be met in terms of providing cost effective sewer capacity.

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  4. [...] Harris and Steve Pasternack  The Delaware Township Post reported on October 26 that sewer treatment capacity is approaching a critical point in Sergeantsville.  Now, bo [...]

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