The Centre Region’s beneficial reuse water system is potentially expanding.
The University Area Joint Authority is working with the Centre Regional Planning Agency to prepare an Act 537 plan (Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act) special study to extend a beneficial reuse waterline from the Centre Hills Country Club to Mountain View Country Club and possibly Tussey Mountain in the future, said Jim May, director of CRPA.
The study was approved by the Centre Region Council of Governments in February 2016.
Beneficial reuse water is treated to a “very high level,” May said.
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It would be used to irrigate at Mountain View’s golf courses, he said.
The waterline would run along U.S. Route 322 from Centre Hills, located in College Township, to Mountain View, located in Harris Township.
It’s about two miles of pipeline that would need to be run, and UAJA rate payers would help fund the project, said Cory Miller, UAJA’s executive director.
He said the sewer authority is heading in a new direction, saying that UAJA hadn’t anticipated extending beneficial reuse waterlines into Harris Township for a while.
Because Spring Creek has a thermal limit — the temperature can’t be above a certain level or it will harm the fish — there’s only so much reuse water that can be discharged into the creek, May said.
Both Mountain View and Tussey Mountain pump groundwater, so using reclaimed water would be an environmental benefit, he said.
Beneficial reuse water is already being used in the region — in laundry services and car washes, at Gordon D. Kissinger Meadow wetlands, to irrigate at Centre Hills and in the College Township building’s heating and cooling system, May said.
The Act 537 plan report will likely be forwarded to COG General Forum for acceptance by the municipalities in a few months, he said.
There’s another regional study, not mandated by the state Department of Environmental Protection, to determine how to show beneficial reuse waterlines inside the growth boundary sewer service area, May said.
Now, UAJA has to show specifically where beneficial reuse waterlines are in the Act 537 plan, so an amendment to the plan would require a formal process with DEP, May said.
“By showing beneficial reuse lines allowed anywhere, we wouldn’t have to go through that full-blown amendment process with DEP,” he said.
May added that it would provide more flexibility and only require local approval.
It’s a way to speed up approval for future users, Miller said.
May said the local water authorities have concerns about the potential expansion.
“They’re concerned that UAJA isn’t testing for certain things, so they don’t fully understand what’s in that water once it’s discharged,” he said.
Another concern the authorities have, May said, is loss of potential customers and revenue from beneficial reuse water being used.
The Mountain View irrigation project won’t impact the State College Borough Water Authority economically, said John Lichman, SCBWA’s executive director.
If the project helps UAJA with beneficial reuse, Lichman said, SCBWA is fine with that.
But, SCBWA does have concerns about potential future plans involving potable reuse, he said. It’s not that the authority is opposed to beneficial reuse, but there are a lot of unanswered questions associated with it.
College Township Water Authority could not be reached for comment Friday.
“The beneficial reuse water system was established to address future growth and development in the region and to make sure that we had capacity to grow,” May said. “And we need to find a place to put that water.”