Encountering resistance from local officials is not uncommon, but experience has uncovered successful techniques.
PRWA advises that you shouldn’t be discouraged if you get some resistance to your attempts to set up a meeting with a local official. They have found this can occur with privately owned “public” water systems within a municipality. Because your system is privately owned, the municipality may not see protection of your supply as their responsibility, or they may be uncertain about their responsibilities for it.
Be aware that the PA Municipal Planning Code (MPC) that the municipality must follow doesn’t really make a distinction between public or private ownership of water supply, simply that a “public supply” in the MPC is defined as a “community water supply” as defined under the Safe Drinking Water Act. This includes any system that serves 25 or more persons or 15 or more connections for year round residents.
In addition, the updates made in 2000 to the MPC also dictate that the municipality must plan for the reliable supply of water to its residents. What this means is that the municipality has an obligation to support your efforts to improve the reliability of your system using SWP under their Comprehensive Planning.
HOWEVER, taking the approach they MUST support you because of the MPC is probably not going to work!
When meeting with municipal officials, the best approach is to let them know that you are just “supplying them with information” on part of their community. If you try to force them to take action or direct them in some way, you will likely not get support. Certainly ask for their support in your efforts to protect clean drinking water for community residents, and ask that they consider your Source water protection area in any Comprehensive Plans or Zoning, but make it clear that it is a request.
Be ready to supply them with copies of brochures or publications that explain the WHP or SWP program or groundwater basics.
Groundwater Protection and Management in Pennsylvania is an excellent, easy to read pdf publication that clearly explains why purity of drinking water sources requires community support. NOTE: Because it’s comprehensive, it’s 62 pages in length. DOWNLOAD it NOW >>
For a SHORTER SUMMARY (12 pages), try GROUNDWATER: A Primer for Pennsylvanians. GET IT HERE >>
An approach that has proven successful has been to request to be on the agenda for 5 to 10 minutes at a monthly meeting of the Borough Council, Township Supervisors, or Planning Commission. Give a brief overview of your SWP Plan and why it is important, and hand the officials the maps and a copy of the LWV/WREN publication. Let them know they can contact you if they need more information. Remember, you are just providing them with information about something important going on in their municipality to enhance the quality of life and public health of residents within their jurisdiction. Even if a particular municipal official was not in attendance, minutes are kept of the meetings, and will reflect that you appeared before the local body.