A Lower Towamensing Township resident has urged officials to tread with caution before a new wastewater treatment plant is built.
Herman Bollinger voiced his concerns to the township's board of supervisors on Tuesday one month after the board approved a wastewater treatment agreement with the Tuthill Corporation to provide sewage treatment to the township.
After no overtures were received in consecutive months to provide sewage treatment to township residents, the board agreed last month to negotiate privately with the Tuthill Corporation, the operator of Blue Mountain Resort.
Tuthill will pay an estimated $1,485,303 to construct a new plant. Meanwhile, the cost for the township to hook up to the plant once it is constructed is $598,604.
A new plant will provide wastewater treatment services to residents in the Little Gap, Walkton and Aquashicola geographic area. The Weiner Trailer Court will be hooked up to Palmerton borough's wastewater treatment plant.
Bollinger told supervisors, "I think maybe you could pick one or the other out so that it wouldn't be so costly on the people."
Supervisor Ron Walbert told Bollinger the board has two agreements in place.
"We took all the necessary steps," Walbert said. "The final piece of the puzzle is the Bog Turtle Study; we need DEP approval."
In November, supervisors agreed to award a contract in the amount of $13,300 to Environmental Consultation Services Inc. of Pen Argyl, to conduct a wetlands/bog turtle study.
The study an attempt to determine the presence of probable absence of the species, though it doesn't provide sufficient data to determine population size or structure will be conducted in the spring, and then be sent to DEP.
Supervisor Chairman Brent Green also weighed in on the situation.
"We did a cost analysis of Palmerton's plant and Blue Mountain's plant," Green said. "It's cheaper to send it to Blue Mountain."
In September, supervisors agreed to advertise to bid the project, at which time township solicitor Jim Nanovic said the township was looking for a single entity to provide sewage treatment to the township.
Nanovic also said at that time that it would not be a township plant, but, rather a private plant, and that Blue Mountain Ski Area was eligible to bid on the project.
In July, the Delaware River Basin Commission granted Blue Mountain permission to expand its wastewater treatment plant.
At that time, the commission approved the application submitted by Keystone Consulting Engineers, on behalf of Tuthill, for the renewal of an existing discharge from the ski area wastewater treatment plant.
That approval came as Blue Mountain began preliminary work on its new Summit Splash Water Park, where officials gathered last month for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the completion of the new road to begin the project.
Scheduled to open in 2016, the park is expected to create more than 200 full-time jobs.
Once completed, Summit Splash will include a giant wave pool, a lazy river, and tubing slides.
The approval means the ski area can now expand the facility from being able to treat and discharge .06 million gallons per day to .28 million gallons per day.
The expanded plant will now consist of three communitors/bar screens, a surge tank, five aeration tanks, five clarifiers, four sludge storage tanks, two chlorine contact tanks and two post aeration tanks.
The wastewater treatment plant will continue to discharge treated effluent to the Aquashicola Creek, within the drainage area of the section of the nontidal Delaware River known as the Lower Delaware, which is classified as Special Protection Waters, in Lower Towamensing Township.
The project facilities are not located in the 100-year floodplain.
Waste sludge will continue to be hauled off-site by a licensed hauler for disposal at a state-approved facility.