Since the Act 537 sewer plan started in 2003, the estimated cost to West Penn Township and Walker Township to date has been a combined $276,907. Rettew engineering, the company in charge of putting together and implementing the plan, has been instructed by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to reconduct the door-to-door survey to reassess the true sewer needs, costing the townships an additional estimation of $79,200 in fees.
Act 537 is a DEP mandated plan that is a part of the Clean Streams Law created to regulate sewage and other pollutants that go into the waters of Pennsylvania. Currently, West Penn and Walker townships are in violation of this law because failing waste systems in residential homes are secreting too much raw sewage in the waterways.
"Our municipality and Walker Township, we as taxpayers, put that money out, and we still haven't seen results," Supervisor James G. Dean said at the West Penn Township supervisors meeting on Thursday evening in the municipal building. "We still don't have an Act 537…It's extremely frustrating for the residents of this township to pay that kind of money for nothing."
Both Dean and Chairman Alfonso Martinez accepted the updated Act 537 task activity report, which assesses the new scope of work that needs to be done to outline a plan for implementing the sewer project. Vice Chairman James Akins was not present at the meeting to cast his vote.
Madison had a signed letter he had received earlier in the day from a Walker board member, William McMullen, also accepting the updated Act 537 task activity.
At Walker's February board of supervisors meeting, West Penn Township's engineer, Ronald B. Madison, PE, explained why the results of the first survey were abandoned: "There is a perception perhaps that the original needs assessment survey done in 2003 may have been somewhat biased by the idea of high growth that was being seen at that point; in addition, DEP is concerned about the age of the needs assessment."
The results to the first survey showed an estimated $11.5 million to install the sewer project, which in the end would cost the residents who had the systems installed a $104-a-month sewer bill. This option is still all too plausible is DEP rejects the new task activity report.
At a meeting on Feb. 15 with DEP and Randy Bensinger, who was there representing the sewer committee, Rettew presented the task activity report outlining the new scope of work, but Madison said it will be a week or two before DEP responds with its decision whether or not to accept the new report.
At last evening's supervisors meeting, Madison said the goal of redoing the survey is get evaluate as close to 100 percent of the homes shown from the first survey to have failing waste systems. "A sampling might be a statistical sampling," Madison said, "but not really identifying exactly where the problem areas are."