In addition to approving its annual budget, the Slatington Borough Authority expressed concerns about the borough's sewer plant at its meeting Monday morning at borough hall.

The authority unanimously approved its 2014 budget at $55,000.

Earlier, visitor Stefan Myers, the sewer plant operator, said a pipe at the sewer plant's primary digester that had needed emergency repair was fixed last Thursday by Rapid Pump and Meter. However he noted that, in the course of that repair, a six-foot "mat" was found on top of the primary digester lid.

Myers noted this was the same type of thing that had happened before he'd started working there and attributed it to equipment not mixing things properly.

Authority engineer Ted Stevenson of Rettew Associates, explained that, around 1984, there had also been a mat in the primary digester (which is now the secondary digester). It took roughly double the volume of water to cut the mat down to the point where they could pump it out and dispose of it, he said.

"So instead of 200,000 gallons worth of sludge, you're probably looking at 400,000 to 500,000 gallons," Stevenson added.

On a good note, however, Myers said that, "The original bill (for the pipe repair) was supposed to be $3,870, (but) Duane and I did the work removing it and installing it, so we saved the borough $1,390."

"Thank you for doing that. I appreciate that," said Chairwoman Laurie Schnaufer. "So where do we stand now with this, though? What's going to happen next?"

Myers expressed his concerns not only about the primary digester, but also about the secondary digester which, he said, "is cocked at more of an angle than it's been."

All of these situations could lead to dire consequences, he added. Authority members agreed.

The secondary digester, which hasn't been used for some time, has a concrete lid that is stuck, Vice Chairman William Stein later explained. If anything happens to the main digester, "we're stuck", he said.

Stein also said that another reason to get the secondary digester working is that, currently, sludge has to be hauled off-site by a contractor because it can't be cleared out fast enough.

Stevenson said the total sewer plant project, including the secondary digester, would run approximately $1.2 million.

Stein later said that the authority is looking into grants for the project.