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Westmoreland

New $8.4 million project will let Westmoreland Municipal Authority close Youngwood treatment plant

Rich Cholodofsky
| Wednesday, June 13, 2018, 4:27 p.m.
Evan Sanders | Tribune-Review

An $8.4 million project to improve operations at the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County's sewer plant in New Stanton will allow it to shutter a smaller facility just a few miles away in Youngwood, officials said Wednesday.

Authority board members signed off on the construction of a 4 million gallon holding tank to collect storm water, which is expected to increase capacity of the plant and allow it to accommodate sewage from the nearby Youngwood facility.

“This will be good for the region and good for the ratepayers,” said authority business manager Brian Hohman.

The New Stanton project will be designed to ensure the plant will not be overwhelmed during periods of heavy rain, a situation that could cause untreated sewage to be discharged into local waterways.

Because the separate holding facility will gather rainwater that would otherwise run through the treatment plant, the plant will be able to accommodate and treat more raw sewage, Hohman said.

As a result, authority officials said it will close its smaller, 500,000 gallon Youngwood facility, a move that is expected to save $350,000 annually.

Authority board members also approved more than $825,000 in contracts to reconfigure a small section of pipes to allow sewage to be shifted from the Youngwood plant to the refurbished facility in New Stanton.

Hohman said construction at the New Stanton plant is expected to begin next summer. The Youngwood facility is scheduled for closure in mid-2020, he said.

The authority sells water to more than 120,000 customers in five counties. Its sewer business now services nearly 25,000 customers. It will add 200 more on July 1, when it takes over the small Penn Borough system.

That acquisition was approved Wednesday in a deal that essentially saw borough officials give their sewer service to the county at no charge. Authority solicitor Scott Avolio said Penn Borough agreed to turn over its collection system and customers to the county utility. The borough had already been paying to send its sewage to the county utility's treatment plant in Jeannette; the handover now gives the county ownership of the borough's pipes as well.

“They are reducing their responsibility and their liability,” Avolio said.

The deal is expected to result in about $20,000 annually in additional revenue for the county authority, officials said.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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