Whitehall-Coplay Press

Friday, May 25, 2018

CWSA revisits Summit, Prospect public sewer issue

Wednesday, January 24, 2018 by PAUL CMIL Special to The Press in Local News

At its first meeting of 2018, Coplay-Whitehall Sewer Authority Solicitor John Stover took control of the meeting for the appointment of officers for the new year. The appointments are John Schreiner, chairman; Jim Hahn, vice chairman; Joseph Bonshak, treasurer; Paul Geissinger, secretary; Joseph Marx, community affairs officer; and Paul Boyle, assistant treasurer.

The death of James Carpenter left an opening on the board. (See related story at right.) The position would normally be filled by Whitehall Township Board of Commissioners.

The board voted to continue its contracts with Stover as solicitor and SSM Group for engineering services. Darryl Jenkins represents SSM Group in most proceedings.

Top of the agenda for Jan. 16 was a project approved by Whitehall calling for public sewers to properties on Summit and Prospect streets.

This particular project was discussed in detail two years ago at a special meeting. It was reported at that time that some systems are failing, and the homeowners have few options to treat sewage. A public sewer connection is the most viable option for these homeowners. The lot sizes for these homes do not allow space for a new system installation. The condition came about because regulations on wastewater have changed since the homes were built.

As various members of the board pointed out, there are significant complications with the project. Grant funds are available to cover a portion of the costs, and Marx introduced paperwork to begin the application process.

As Marx commented, all the easy projects to provide public sewers are completed. New projects like Summit and Prospect streets are fraught with engineering problems, grade changes and hand-off problems. There are homes in the general area that could be connected to public sewer, but the cost of extending a main would be expensive.

There are alternatives for these homeowners, but they would involve private systems emptying into public mains or grouped low-pressure systems. Neither alternative is available today because they are specifically denied by CWSA.

“With the cost of the main, we may need to develop alternatives that can include these types of systems,” Schreiner said. “We must be careful that we don’t lose the efficiency of our system trying to accommodate these additional users.”

For the board, plant manager and the engineering team, the biggest unknown is the condition of the systems.

“We have no idea if these systems are going to fail or if they have an extended life expectancy. Someone who has just made improvements or repairs to a system is not going to be happy paying a connection fee to support a public sewer,” Schreiner said.

The board agreed to meet with township commissioners to get a better sense on how to proceed.