Pennsylvania Governor Blocks Data Quality Act

Supported by state Senate and House leadership, a bill introduced as the Data Quality Act would require agencies to share the data supporting their regulatory decisions.

Supported by state Senate and House leadership, a bill introduced as the Data Quality Act would require agencies to share the data supporting their regulatory decisions. The legislation will help ensure the use of current and reliable data, studies and scientific research by state agencies during the writing of new regulations. The legislation amends the Regulatory Review Act to expand the scope of review by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission to include the examination of the quality of data, studies, reports and information underlying state regulations. However, Gov. Edward Rendell is blocking this bill that places the burden of justification on regulatory agencies.


The Department of Environ-mental Quality is recommending that any new developments in the Luna Lake area connect to the Alpine Domestic Water Improve-ment District (DWID) to limit the negative effects of total nitrogen. If hooking to the sewer is impossible, then new septic systems should voluntarily incorporate nitrogen-reducing technologies. The department’s long-term goal is to connect as many residential and commercial facilities to the sewer as possible. The Alpine DWID is developing a sewer master plan that will tie many previously unsewered areas to the collection system.


The Department of Environ-mental Protection concluded that sewers in Old Saybrook were polluting the groundwater. Town officials and members of the Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA) objected to the idea of replacing the system, calling sewers “old technology” and a “true economic burden.” After targeting 15 different beach communities where most of the pollution occurs, and inspecting each lot separately, officials turned to individual onsite systems with nitrogen-reduction technology to fix specific problems. First Selectman Michael Pace called the individual solution method “tremendously cheaper” than sewers, by as much as 50 percent. The state passed special legislation to create a Wastewater Management District for Old Saybrook, but the town must pass the referendum before any upgrades can be completed.


The bill to establish grant monies for low-income property owners to offset the expense of installing nitrogen-reduction systems died in the Senate due to its massive price tag. However, the 2008 Legislature appropriated $1 million to further develop cost-effective nitrogen-reduction strategies.

Part of the appropriation directs the Department of Health (DoH) to submit a report by Oct. 1 identifying the costs to implement a mandatory statewide five-year septic tank inspection program to be phased in over 10 years. The DoH received an additional $150,000 to provide a statewide inventory of onsite systems, thereby ensuring that it can enforce an inspection program if one is created. The governor may still veto the appropriation.

New York

Effective May 1, the state’s new Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) general permit mandates that some 20 municipalities and three counties develop management plans for onsite systems as part of the illicit discharge detection and elimination (IDDE) plan. The two-year permit requires licensed professional engineers or architects to design the drainfields for failing systems, then file a written certificate of compliance, thereby accepting the liability for the installer.

Permittees within the area defined as “New York City east of the Hudson Watershed” are required to develop, implement and enforce a program that requires property owners to inspect, repair or replace failing systems by Dec. 31, 2009. To comply, stormwater officials will have to request local governments to enact ordinances that give them the authority to carry out the orders.

New York is not the only state where onsite systems are becoming part of stormwater programs. The Illinois EPA, Region 5, also has a general permit covering discharging onsite systems. The link to the New York permit and supporting documentation is at


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