Benner Township residents ask supervisors to advocate against biosolids

Residents and former supervisors went before the Board of Supervisors on Thursday in another push to end biosolids application by Bellefonte Authority in the township.

Thomas Eby, chairman of the Benner Township Water Authority, advised the supervisors against the dangers of putting added “stress on the aquifer” that supplies water to the area. The potential threat of biosolids, or treated municipal sludge, seeping into the groundwater and contaminating the aquifer has been a hot-button issue in the county.

“This issue is if it does happen, what can we do?” Eby said. “Right now there’s very little we can do. ... Everyone has to be aware of the liabilities and dangers.”

The supervisors agreed to allow the formation of a township steering committee to spread awareness, with the intent to facilitate communication to residents, hold public meetings and bring in experts to advise on contested issues.

Residents also pushed for the supervisors to pass an ordinance restricting biosolids use in the township, as was brought up in last month’s supervisors meeting.

The supervisors had tabled the ordinance, designed to protect the health and environment of residents by providing uniform standards for the site application of sewage sludge and biosolids within the township. They cited concerns about the ordinance’s constitutionality and said they are attempting to have the ordinance reviewed by a solicitor before further action is taken.

However, residents are getting impatient. They demanded the supervisors “force Bellefonte to come to the table” to come up with a plan to test the land and water in treated areas and make sure there is no contamination.

Nate Campbell, a homeowner near the biosolids application area and chairman of the township Planning Commission, penned a letter to the supervisors requesting they do everything within their means to help protect the water, both private wells and public water systems.

“I believe that all options should be explored to protect the water that we all rely on,” Campbell wrote. “Baseline testing and continued testing of wells both public and private should be required if the spreading of biosolids is to continue ... The standard answer that this has been done for 25 years without issue is not very comforting.”

Cate Hansberry: 814-235-3933, @catehans216