State Representative Levdansky Sorts through the Issues
By Paul Chasko
Developers and home builders depending on sewage services from Peters Creek Sanitary Authority (PCSA) have been nervous, frustrated and angry over the past several months trying to get sewage taps authorized for their projects.
I listened to developers Earl Danielson of Quaker Engineering and Bruce Klassen of CDK Development venting this frustration at several recent Union Twp. Board meetings. Even more frustrating was the difficulty developers and municipalities had in obtaining information on the problem. The PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) had, in effect, frozen new construction plans by denying any new sewage taps. This temporarily affected building plans in Union Twp. (Tuscany Estates). Similar new construction worries were felt in other surrounding municipalities serviced by the PCSA.
At the heart of this problem is an issue that was first reported on in last month’s Union-Finley Messenger (Nottingham Twp. Tap-ins On Hold …). The effluent from municipalities serviced by PCSA ends up at the Clairton Municipal Authority (CMA). The CMA is approaching the limit of its effluent handling capability as set and controlled by the DEP. In this situation, they are required to prepare and file a “Corrective Action Plan” for expansion that would permit the facility to handle increased processing. The DEP, apparently believing that such a plan was tied up in disagreements between PCSA and CMA over costs, decided to stop issuing sewage tap-in authorizations until issues between PCSA and CMA could be resolved. The preliminary estimate for CMA expansion was $ 40 million. PCSA balked at this figure and asked for additional details and let it be known that it might be less costly for PCSA to build their own processing plant.
State Representative David Levdansky stepped in recently to find some means by which all agencies involved, DEP, PCSA and CMA could find some common ground to move forward. On March 12, Representative Levdansky and I discussed this issue at some length and much of the above was corroborated by him. He has hosted two meetings with representatives from all three agencies. He said that the result was a timetable for developing a Corrective Action Plan that was acceptable to both PCSA and CMA. In addition, a new cost estimate for upgrading the CMA processing plant surfaced with a price tag of $28.6 million (preliminary and unofficial) which was more reasonable than the initial estimate and would be more manageable for PCSA customers. A representative from PennVest was also invited to the 2nd meeting. PennVest could provide a low-interest loan for perhaps 50 % of the required funds. The remainder would have to come from other sources – perhaps a bond issue or grants. The result of these meetings as Representative Levdansky disclosed was a timetable for the submittal of the required Corrective Action Plan to the DEP, identification of possible funding sources and a more detailed cost estimate considerably lower than the $ 40 million originally estimated.
I followed up with a telephone interview with Rick Kovach (manager of the PCSA office) on March 12. He told me that PCSA had received a letter from the DEP on March 11 authorizing release of 138 new sewage taps. This relieves the immediate pressures but CMA/PCSA will need to come to agreement on the Corrective Action Plan. According to Rep. Levdansky a preliminary exchange of engineering data is scheduled for mid-April and a preliminary design and cost estimate is scheduled for mid-August. Representative Levdansky also noted that CMA is aware that interest rates will probably never be lower than they are now and is anxious to move ahead.
The possibility still exists that PCSA could seek DEP approval for construction of a new plant – a site in Union Twp. has been casually talked about. This would leave CMA holding the bag having lost one of its major customers. Obtaining approval for the building of a sewage processing plant in Union Twp. would be a separate battle. Stay tuned folks.