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Stillwater sewer plant must clean up violations Print E-mail
Putrid sewage sometimes bubbles up from manholes in Stillwater Lakes Civic Association.

Putrid sewage sometimes bubbles up from manholes in Stillwater Lakes Civic Association.

Bits of toilet paper and other foul lumps of waste stray from underground pipes and seep into wetlands and Stillwater Lake, home to the Minsi Trails Boy Scout camp.

Old underground pipes are allowing groundwater and rain water into the system, creating overflows.

Stillwater Sewer Corporation Sewer Treatment Plant has managed its waste illegally, racking up more than 100 violations of the Clean Streams Law since 2002. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has ordered the plant to clean up its act.

Violations include unpermitted sewage discharge from manholes and treatment plant pump stations, discharging sewage into Pennsylvania waters without a valid permit from the DEP and failure to report overflow to the DEP.

The plant has been operating under an expired permit for more than a year. The DEP refused to give Stillwater another permit until the problems are addressed.

"Stillwater has shown a lack of intent or ability to comply with the law," according to an administrative order from the DEP. The order says the 360-home association in Coolbaugh Township has failed to demonstrate that its unlawful conduct is being corrected to the satisfaction of the DEP.

"We've attempted to work with them but can't accept any further delays. It's their responsibility to resolve this," said DEP spokesman Mark Carmon.

The order gave Stillwater 30 days to give the DEP a comprehensive plan and a schedule for when it plans to fix the sewer system and put that plan into action in another 30 days. The DEP will require quarterly written progress reports starting July 15.

Stillwater Lakes hired Niclaus Engineering to write a plan and it was submitted to the DEP on Friday.

"We will go over it (the plan) carefully and compare their response to what we require in the order and get back to them," Carmon said. The DEP could fine Stillwater Lakes for years of illegal discharge, but any fine would not be determined until the problems are fixed.

In 2009, the community imposed a moratorium on new hookups; no new houses are allowed until the system is fixed. The cost will be shared between property owners and any loans available through the government. The price of repairs is likely to be immense, but an estimate will not be available until the extent of repairs needed is known, according to Jim Ott of Appletree Management Group, which took over management of Stillwater Lakes in 2009.

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