West Penn and Walker townships might turn to Tamaqua Borough to handle a portion of their townships' sewage as part of an updated Act 537 Sewage Facilities plan.

At Monday's West Penn board of supervisors meeting, township engineer Ronald B. Madison, P.E., senior project manager with RETTEW of Schuylkill Haven, announced that Tamaqua Borough responded favorably to a series of questions relating to capacity of the Tamaqua Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) to handle a portion of sewage from neighboring municipalities.

The responses by Tamaqua Borough Manager Kevin Steigerwalt were provided in consultation with borough engineer Gannett Fleming, Inc.

Specifically, Tamaqua Borough Authority responded that the WWTP has sufficient hydraulic and organic capacity for a five-year projected increase of 210 equivalent dwelling units.

In response to a similar question regarding the Owl Creek Pumping Station, the borough responded that it "may have sufficient capacity available depending on the magnitude of peak flow from West Penn and Walker townships."

West Penn-Walker also asked the borough "what is the current tapping fee," and what would be the anticipated connection costs if West Penn and Walker were to create an Authority.

Tamaqua responded that the tapping fee is $2,000, established in 2001. If updated to 2011 facility values, it would be about $2,800, although no update of the tapping fee is currently planned.

The borough offered to work with West Penn and Walker to "establish a mechanism for recovering costs that is affordable to township residents and equitable to the existing sewer system customers."

In response to other inquiries by the townships, Tamaqua Borough explained that sewer customers are assessed user fees each quarter based on metered water consumption. The average fee for a Tamaqua residential customer is about $300 per year.

If West Penn-Walker contribute 63,000 gallons per day to the system, the estimated annual operation and maintenance charge is expected to be about $48,000 as a single bulk customer, said Tamaqua.

In a related matter, the board approved a second time extension for the Act 537 project from June 30 to August 31, per Pa. Department of Environmental Protection guidelines.

It was noted that Walker Township is still dealing with securing the final of 10 properties which were served with eminent domain proceedings by the township in order for the municipality to obtain access for soil testing.

It is hoped a May 15 deadline will be met for that final Walker Township property. However, West Penn Township agreed to move forward without the tenth property in order to meet DEP project submissions dates.

In another matter, the supervisors approved a request by Carrie Snyder, Pennsylvania race director, Ragnar Events, for permission for a Ragnar relay race to to pass through the township. The race will be an overnight running relay set for Oct. 7 and will begin in Lancaster and end in the Poconos.

The race would involve a span of some 200 miles with teams of 12 runners exchanging at 36 exchange points along the course.