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Segment of Lower Towamensing to hook up to Palmerton sewer plant

Published March 23. 2012 05:01PM

Palmerton has given its consent to allow a segment of Lower Towamensing Township to hook up to the borough's brand new wastewater treatment plant.

On a 6-0 vote, Borough Council on Thursday 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. Councilman Randolph Gursky was absent.

That decision comes 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 is signed by the Department of Environmental Protection.

However, council President Terry Costenbader said 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.

"This [wastewater treatment] plant we're building right now is strictly for the borough of Palmerton," Costenbader said. "Another tank would be put in by Lower Towamensing Township at no cost to the borough."

Costenbader said he believes it represents "a good agreement; a fair agreement."

Councilman Kris Hoffner lauded Costenbader, as well as borough solicitor Michael Ozalas, for their role in the matter.

"Everything you could think of is in there," Hoffner said. "You guys did a great job; I can see why it took the time it did."

Costenbader then heaped praise on Ron Walbert, chairman of the township's board of supervisors, for his cooperation.

"I'd really like to thank Mr. Ron Walbert," Costenbader said. "He's been very forthcoming and upright, and has given us everything we need when we've needed it."

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

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

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 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 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 Sept. of 2009, Lower Towamensing 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.

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