Construction of Palmerton's brand new wastewater treatment plant continues to progress along smoothly.

Borough Manager Rodger Danielson informed borough council on Thursday that the wastewater treatment plant "has begun using the new process."

Danielson noted that every plant runs with a certain design process, and that both the borough's old and new plant are based on feeding air to bacteria to digest and break down the sludge. The new plant offers a different formula for doing that, Danielson said.

"It is doing a really nice job," Danielson said. "It's a major step in moving along with the development of this new plant."

Danielson noted that construction of the plant is about two-thirds complete. Final completion is scheduled for late-November, possibly into December, he said.

In March, the borough granted its consent to allow a segment of Lower Towamensing Township to hook up to the borough's new plant, if necessary.

At that time, council approved a sewage agreement with the township to accept sewage from the Weiner Trailer Court, as well as five homes along State Road, and possibly more units.

That decision came one week after the township's board of supervisors adopted the agreement. However, as part of their motion, supervisors would not sign the agreement until its Act 537 Plan was signed by the Department of Environmental Protection.

Council President Terry Costenbader previously noted the agreement would come at no extra expense to borough residents if a plant extension is required. Instead, it would come at Lower Towamensing's cost, he said.

Danielson previously said the agreement is in the event that portion of the township would require the actual hook up.

The trailer court has about 60 units, with the possibility of expanding by another 30 or more, Danielson said.

The treatment plant could be operational by late-April, he said. The cost to the township will be determined at the time of hook-up, said Danielson, who added that any money the borough would realize would be placed right back into its operating fund for the sewer plant.

In September, council adopted an ordinance to authorize the issuance of bonds to finance the $10 million treatment plant and related costs. The borough will borrow $10 million through a 30-year loan to pay for the new plant.

For borough residents, that meant a hike in their monthly sewer rate bills, which increased from $33.50 to $48, or, a $14.50 increase, as of Jan. 1.

Danielson previously said the decision to borrow will result in a $60,000 savings per year over earlier bond estimates, or $1.8 million worth of savings over the life of the 30-year span.

The project got under way in May 2011, and was expected to take 18 months to complete.

The three SBR tanks will be constructed using the precast concrete method and are the main treatment units in the project, David Schlott, of ARRO Consulting Engineering said. The SBR tanks measure 42 feet by 122 feet, and are the largest tanks in the treatment plant, he said.

In Aug. of 2010, council approved the acceptance of Carbon County bond financing after county commissioners approved an interest reduction loan that will issue economic development bonds.

The bonds are available through federal stimulus money, also known as the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

In other business, council:

Ÿ At the request of Councilman Richard Nothstein, observed a moment of silence for former mayor Peter Delich Sr., who passed away June 22. Delich served as mayor from 1990 until his retirement on Dec. 31, 2009.

Ÿ Accepted the resignation of part-time patrolman Peter Swan.

Ÿ Approved, on a 4-0 vote, with one abstention, the Pencor parking lot completion agreement. Councilman Jeremy Barbosa abstained because he is a part-time employee.

Ÿ Approved, on a 4-0 vote, with one abstention, the hiring of Thatcher George as a summer employee at the rate of $7.25 an hour. Barbosa abstained from the vote because George is a family member.

Ÿ Adopted a resolution for the borough's Emergency Operations Plan.