No rate hike
The Coplay Whitehall Sewer Authority has released its 2015 preliminary budget.
"We were able to hold the line on costs and become more productive," Chairman John Schreiner reported at the Nov. 20 meeting. "We are able to present a budget with no increase in rates."
Part of the reason for holding the line on expenses is the board's drive to comply with local and federal mandates while keeping maintenance procedures current.
"For next year we are going to concentrate on repairing the brick manholes that we have in the system," Schreiner said.
To that end, the board approved sending a technical representative to a training session that will explore the latest methods for lining sewer systems including manholes.
The authority is also investigating improving its metering capabilities for the Lehigh Interceptor.
"We are confident that we are getting good readings, but the system peaks out during heavy rains," said plant Manager David Harleman.
A similar situation occurred along the Jordan Creek station. The metering systems were repaired and improved.
Darryl Jenkins, authority engineer, reported that the plans and drawings for Jordan Creek could be quickly adapted for the Lehigh station. The new digital metering equipment will allow field personnel to record data on flows as often as necessary.
"We can set up a station here and monitor status at all locations remotely," Jenkins said.
The board reviewed the text of a letter drafted by Jenkins to Rebecca Crane, an environmental engineer for the Environmental Protection Agency's enforcement branch. In the letter, the authority requests to be relieved of the requirements of an EPA mandate for all municipalities sending sewage to the Allentown Wastewater Treatment Plant.
"We feel we are substantially complete in meeting our obligations under the mandate," Schreiner noted. "Darryl Jenkins supplied the technical details of our efforts, and it was attached to the letter."
If the EPA does not relieve the authority of the requirements under the mandate, the fallback position is to extend the compliance period for a projected four years until all the brick manholes are relined.
"We have completed the major projects to comply with the mandate and we need to make sure the EPA is aware of our efforts," Schreiner said.
CWSA held a private meeting with the EPA to present its accomplishments. At the end of the meeting, EPA officials indicated they would consider a detailed review of the CWSA's compliance measures separately. The original EPA mandate covered the sewer system for Allentown and all the municipalities that feed sewage into the Allentown Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The plant was leased by LCA as part of an agreement with the City of Allentown. CWSA contends that it is far ahead of Allentown and most of the other municipalities in its compliance effort. The board is vigilant about costs passed to its ratepayers that might rightly belong with LCA.
Also during the meeting, board member James Carpenter announced that Michael Miller, a 27-year employee, will retire. The board noted his long service and the professionalism he displayed over his years of service.