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Apollo sewer flows reduced but effect on rates not known

| Saturday, July 29, 2017, 12:48 p.m.
Apollo's sewer separation project has reduced the amount of water sent to the Kiski Valley Water Pollution Control Authority's treatment plant during heavy rains.
Eric Felack | Tribune-Review
Apollo's sewer separation project has reduced the amount of water sent to the Kiski Valley Water Pollution Control Authority's treatment plant during heavy rains.

Despite the trials and tribulations of the four-year Apollo sewer separation project, it apparently is achieving its goal.

That was to lower the flow of fresh water from storms and groundwater into the sanitary sewer system and the Kiski Valley Water Pollution Control Authority's treatment plant.

Richard Craft, Apollo's engineer, said flow data he has viewed online from the authority shows that Apollo's has been reduced substantially. However, he did not go into detail on how much the reduction is.

“The (flow) rates are lower than we predicted in 2009,” Craft told borough officials. “We eliminated a lot of excess groundwater, which was more than we expected.”

He said the authority is expected to release a detailed report in September.

Apollo, along with virtually all communities and sewage authorities in Western Pennsylvania, has been under pressure from state and federal environmental agencies to eliminate and/or reduce the flow of fresh water into the sanitary systems.

Increased flows caused by heavy rains have overwhelmed sewage treatment plants and resulted in sewage discharges into streams and rivers.

Craft said how the reduced flows affect the rates paid by the system's users is uncertain right now and depends on how the authority covers the cost of added capacity built into the treatment plant when it was upgraded.

“The rates could go up or could go down, depending what the other communities have done,” he said. “From what I have seen, if everything was constant throughout the system, then our rates would be lower.”

When asked if he expects Apollo residents' sewage bills to decrease, council President Dr. John Kautz said, “That would be very, I guess you say, ‘hopeful'. I would not expect it, but I believe it would not involve an increase. We are within the guidelines of what the Kiski Valley Water Pollution Control Authority set for the borough.”

Tom Yerace is a freelance writer.

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