The purpose of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) sewage facilities program is to implement the Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act 537 in order to help address existing sewage disposal needs and to help prevent future problems through the proper planning, permitting, and design of all types of sewage facilities.
The DEP requires municipalities to develop and implement comprehensive official plans that provide for the resolution of existing sewage disposal problems, provide for the future sewage disposal needs of new land development, and provide for future sewage disposal needs of the municipality. This official plan is sometimes called the "base plan" or the "Act 537 plan." The City of Pittsburgh's Act 537 plan was originally approved on May 15, 1972. When a new land development project is proposed, municipalities are required to revise their official plan.
The process through which the City of Pittsburgh amends its official plan is called the DEP Sewage Facilities Planning Module (DEP SFPM). The SFPM requires review/approval from each Facility Owner within the sewerage system, including Collection (PWSA), Conveyance (ALCOSAN) and Treatment (ALCOSAN). PWSA reviews the collection system portions of the SFPM. Each Facility Owner conducts a review to understand how the proposed development will impact available dry-weather capacity and whether the proposed flows will create a dry-weather hydraulic overload within the next 5 years.
During the review of the Water and Sewer Use application, PWSA will analyze the project flows to determine if a DEP SFPM will need to be completed by the applicant based on our interpretation of Act 537. PWSA will forward the preliminary Water and Sewer Use Approval to the DEP for a final determination on the necessity of further sewage facilities planning.
The requirement for sewage planning depends on a variety of factors, including but not limited to the Existing Flows, Project Flows, Net Flows, date of lot creation, previous planning module approvals, etc. We have created a Flow Diagram to help applicants understand how the DEP determines whether a SFPM will be required.
To initiate the process with the DEP, please review their guidelines. If you are unsure where to begin, the Sewage Facilities Planning Module Application Mailer is the first step.
A DEP SFPM must be completed and electronically submitted to PWSA via e-Builder and includes:
- Copy of the DEP Planning Module Components Letter (i.e. DEP’s response to the Mailer)
- Copy of the PWSA Water and Sewer Use Approval Letter with tap allocations. The Water and Sewer Use Application is to be completed separately from and approved prior to the submission of the DEP Sewage Facilities Planning Module.
- Copy of the Water and Sewer Availability Letter
- Project Narrative including the name of the project, location address, current and proposed use
- Plot Plan showing the existing/proposed structures and existing/proposed utilities
- Floor Plans for Proposed Use
- Flow Calculations signed and sealed by a Professional Engineer
- Sewage Facilities Planning Module – Component 3 – Sewage Collection and Treatment Facilities
- The 3 River Wet Weather Flush It! tool may be helpful in completing your Component 3.
The Developer’s Manual contains a full set of instructions to complete the application and supporting documentation.
Additional Approvals Required
After PWSA review, the application must be reviewed and approved by several other agencies prior to submission to the DEP. This process could take 3-6 months to complete. The general workflow is as follows:
- City of Pittsburgh Department of City Planning
- City of Pittsburgh Law Department
- Pittsburgh City Council
No PWSA tap-in permits will be issued until final approval from DEP has been obtained. In order to expedite PWSA approvals, we maintain a list of agency contacts.