Work is underway on the Allegheny Valley Joint Sewage Authority processing plant expansion project.
The expansion is part of a federally mandated upgrade to control sewage and stormwater discharges into the Allegheny River.
Harmar Township Engineer Matthew Pitsch said Hancock Camp Road, a private road that serves the Werner Camp property between the river and the train tracks near Target, is closed for construction of the plant. The only public road in Harmar that should be part of the construction is Wenzel Drive, he said.
Cheswick council member Brad Yaksich said work will start in late summer or autumn along the river leading to the borough’s Rachel Carson Park. He said the park will be closed during construction. Water pipes will be installed at the park to access water and toilets will be built.
“If all goes well, they should be done in the park area and everything cleaned up by next spring,” he said.
Yakisch said the recent removal of the two nearby excavators was part of ongoing work for the sewer line project, but the borough had nothing to do with the excavators. This work was carried out by a contractor, Greenland Construction.
The work is part of the authority’s plans to increase its wastewater treatment capacity from the current 5.5 million gallons per day to 8 million gallons by 2023. As of May 9, 2020, the cost of the factory expansion was estimated at $65 million. Authority Director Tim Kephart said the bid for the plant was $97.6 million.
Covid-related delays have contributed to higher costs, he said. Rising costs have prompted municipalities to increase their sanitation tariffs.
Four municipalities – Springdale, Springdale Township, Harmar and Cheswick – are served by the authority. Parts of West Deer, Indiana Township, Fox Chapel and Richland also receive authority services.
At Harmar, supervisors raised the monthly rate for the authority’s 1,435 Harmar customers.
Users pay $11 per 1,000 gallons used, up from the previous $7.50 per 1,000 gallons, an increase of nearly 47%. Of this $11 figure, $3.50 is for regular wastewater treatment and the remaining $7.50 is for plant expansion.
Other communities prepared early for rising costs.
Springdale Mayor John Molnar said the borough has already raised rates to $11.25 per 1,000 gallons.
“We have no control over that,” he said. “We have to pay our share.”
Molnar said the borough will consider whether to raise sewer rates even further for next year’s budget.
Cheswick Council Chairman Michael Girardi said Cheswick voted to raise fares late last year. A fixed fee has been added to pay for factory expansion.
Usage rates there increased slightly, from $3.40 to $3.50 per 1,000 gallons. The fixed costs paid to the factory amount to $314.48 per year and per household.
“It underscores how much smaller municipalities need to work together more to find ways to reduce costs through collaboration,” Girardi said.
Kephart said the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has given a consent order deadline for the project to be completed by Nov. 1, 2024.
“They just opened the pitch here at the start of the year and things seem to be going well,” he said.
Tanisha Thomas is the editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Tanisha at 412-480-7306, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .