Benner Township Water Authority asks for end to biosolids spread

The chairman of the Benner Township Water Authority wrote a letter to Bellefonte Borough Authority Chairman Joe Beigle on Tuesday requesting that the authority ends its practice of spreading biosolids in Benner Township.

Biosolids application has become a hot-button issue in Benner Township this year.

Bellefonte plans to begin spreading biosolids on Spicer Family Farms this year, despite protests and a lawsuit from Benner Township residents. The borough has spread biosolids on Shaffer Farms for the past two years without incident.

However, residents are concerned because, according to Bellefonte-Milesburg’s own source water protection plan, biosolids application is among the highest ranked sources of water contamination in the area containing Spicer and Shaffer farms.

“We understand the practice of spreading this material is beneficial to agriculture areas and is a cost savings to your water customers,” Thomas Eby wrote. “However, when in doing so you clearly and willingly violate your own water source protection area it causes our customers to question your willingness to ignore your own self-prescribed public safety measures. Surely there are other agricultural grounds beyond these critical zones that can be secured for this practice that do not pose a significant potential public risk as the current practice.”

Eby requested that Beigle provide Benner Township with all testing documents and permits associated with the Bellefonte authority’s application of biosolids in Benner Township.

“We would like to become more aware of any potential pollutants that the BBA intends to, or is currently applying to these public source water protection areas,” Eby said.

Beigle did not respond to request for comment on Friday. Borough Manager Ralph Stewart said the authority will have a response after its meeting on Tuesday.

Residents will have another chance to express their concerns on Monday. The Benner Township Board of Supervisors will meet at 7 p.m. in the meeting room of the Benner Township Building.

Although Benner Township supervisors don’t have the authority to cease biosolids application, Chairman David Wise said at last month’s meeting that supervisors would pass residents’ comments on to the Bellefonte Borough Authority and the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Cate Hansberry: 814-235-3933, @catehans216