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'Unfunded Mandate' Could Raise Sewer Bills

The Upper Moreland-Hatboro Joint Sewer Authority suggested the possibility of rate increases.

The Upper Moreland-Hatboro Joint Sewer Authority suggested the possibility of rate increases. Credit: Patch
The Upper Moreland-Hatboro Joint Sewer Authority suggested the possibility of rate increases. Credit: Patch
Citing an "expensive unfunded mandate" to remove phosphorus compounds from wastewater beginning on Jan. 1, the Upper Moreland-Hatboro Joint Sewer Authority suggested higher sewer rates could be possible. 

In order to be compliant with state and national laws, the authority said in its fall/winter newsletter that in the coming year it will be required to remove phosphates before wastewater is discharged to Pennypack Creek.

From Oct. 1, 2007 through Sept. 30, the authority has spent $625,000 on the investigation, design and permitting related to the phosphorous removal project, according to the newsletter.

Finishing the new phosphorus removal facilities and the first year of chemicals needed to remove phosphates is expected to cost another $625,000, according to the authority. Annually, the project could cost $350,000 in operating, maintenance and chemical expenses, according to the authority. 

"This has been and will continue to be an expensive unfunded mandate for the Authority and ratepayers to follow," the authority wrote in its newsletter. "Unfortunately, the cost of our normal business operations to protect the environment is placed on all UMHJSA's customers via sewer rates and increases to these rates."

Sewer rates are typically increased on April 1. The authority raised rates in April 2011 and in April 2012 UMHJSA put forth a 20 percent rate hike

The Upper Moreland-Hatboro Joint Sewer Authority provides service to more than 10,000 customers in Hatboro, Upper Moreland, Bryn Athyn, Warminster, Horsham and Upper Dublin townships.

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