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Board agrees to hook up to Palmerton's treatment plant

Published March 14. 2012 05:01PM

After decades of debate, a portion of Lower Towamensing Township is expected to hook up to Palmerton Borough's brand new wastewater treatment plant.

The board of supervisors on Tuesday unanimously agreed to adopt an agreement in principal to hook up the Weiner Trailer Court to the borough's treatment plant.

However, as part of their motion, supervisors would not sign the agreement until its Act 537 Plan is signed by the Department of Environmental Protection.

Supervisors Chairman Ron Walbert said a series of at least a dozen meetings between township and borough officials led to the agreement.

"I'd like to publicly thank (Palmerton Borough Council President) Terry Costenbader and (borough manager) Rodger Danielson for their cooperation," Walbert said.

Contacted this morning, Danielson told the TIMES NEWS the agreement is in the event that portion of the township would require the actual hook up.

"If they are to come in, certainly there are portions of the township that may be advantageous for them, but it certainly doesn't set the direction for them to bring all their waste here," Danielson said. "This is one area that they needed to find a way to serve as necessary."

All told, Danielson said the Weiner Trailer Court has about 60 units, with the possibility of expanding by another 30 or more.

"As for capacity, that's really quite inconsequential; those few homes," he said. "It would certainly be nice to have those additional customers into our system; we would willingly accept that number."

Danielson noted the matter hasn't been presented to the full borough council, though he doesn't foresee "any real objections at all."

The treatment plant could be operational by late-April, Danielson 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, Palmerton Borough 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 means a hike in their monthly sewer rate bills, which was expected to see a rise 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 last May, 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, Schlott said. The SBR tanks measure 42 feet by 122 feet, and are the largest tanks in the treatment plant, he said.

In August 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.

Resident Pete Terp thanked Walbert, as well as the rest of the supervisors, for their proactive approach in the matter.

"I've known Ron from the time he moved into the township," Terp said. "This just shows that he is a take-charge person, between the Act 537 plan, and getting the (Stoney Ridge) recreation park moving and running again."

In September of 2009, supervisors passed a resolution to submit a reworked Act 537 plan to DEP.

The township most recently planned to hook up to Blue Mountain Ski Area's wastewater treatment plant, which the township will eventually purchase and upgrade to handle extra sewage flow.

Previously, DEP has denied two past requests by the township, and withdrew it once before.

Construction is slated to begin in January of 2014. The system and some properties are expected to be hooked up by October of 2015.

The plan called for a central sewer line in Aquashicola and the areas of Walkton and Little Gap, where there are many failing septic systems and an increasing population.

Under the plan, the Aquashicola/Walkton/Little Gap sections would be provided with gravity lines, manholes, and two pump stations with their associated force mains.

The cost to implement the project is $10,229,446. A tapping fee of $4,500 per equivalent dwelling unit will be charged, while the annual user's costs are anticipated to be about $754 per EDU.

However, those fees are contingent upon the township receiving funding from PENNVEST, township officials have said.

In other business, supervisors:

• Approved the repository sale of tax parcel 1-32-A8.13 Lot 7.

• Adopted a resolution for the Sunset Terrace plan for Kenneth George.

• Tabled the renewal of a Verizon Wireless Plan: Push to Talk Phones.

• Approved a three-month extension with AT&T.

• Approved a garbage extension for resident Gary Dorshimer.

• Agreed to take out a quarter-page advertisement for the Carbon County Fair to be held in August.

• Authorized secretary Christine Wentz to send letters for the Carbon County Fair fire police.

• Tabled the adoption of a resolution for bids until next month's meeting.

• Tabled the award of blacktop bids until next month's meeting.

• Agreed to award gasoline/diesel bids at the eventual time of delivery.

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