The Schuylkill Valley Sewer Authority, located outside the Village of Cumbola in Schuylkill County, is the recipient of a prestigious bi-annual environmental award.

The authority, which includes Schuylkill and Blythe Townships and the Boroughs of Middleport and New Philadelphia, was presented Monday evening with the 2008 United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Water State Revolving Fund Pisces Award.

This award is given for the construction of a regional wastewater treatment plant with regional benefits.

"What makes this award special is that only one is given out per state and it is awarded every other year," said Paul K. Marchetti, executive director for the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PennVest), which nominated SVSA for the award.

Each of the communities comprising SVSA is a founding member and representatives from each serve of the authority's board of directors.

The EPA commended the authority for developing a "cost-effective, regional solution to the public health risks of direct discharge sewers that provides a long-term solution for wastewater and stormwater treatment in the Schuylkill Valley."

Nomination criteria, according to the EPA website, consists of leadership and innovation in Clean Water Act compliance and financial integrity.

Nominees must demonstrate commitment to one or more of these criteria: best management practices; full-cost pricing; efficient water use; watershed approach; innovation in financing; innovative approach to project implementation; and creative use of partnerships.

The authority's equity contribution to the project was $1,228,500, which was combined with funding from PennVest in a combination grant and loan package of $18.6 million.

The sewer project included over 30 miles of pipe installation and the construction of a new treatment plant with the capabilities of treating an average daily flow of 550,000 gallons.

SVSA's facility was built to meet discharge limitations more stringent than those currently in place and included the on-site digestion of sewage sludge, which is placed on reed planted drying beds. This system removes waste from the headwaters of the Schuylkill River, for the first-time ever, replacing local "wildcat" systems and providing regional service for over 1,500 customers.

The award was actually for 2008 but was delayed while the plaque was being prepared.