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Upper Allegheny Joint Sanitary Authority works on compliance with federal law

| Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 1:46 a.m.

The Upper Allegheny Joint Sanitary Authority on Thursday will update officials from its member communities on the progress toward compliance with the federal Clean Water Act.

Like many local sewerage providers, the authority is under a consent decree from the federal Environmental Protection Agency to reduce sewage overflows.

Authority Engineer Ed Schmitt with the firm Gibson-Thomas Engineering said Thursday's 10 a.m. meeting will primarily deal with plans to begin flow monitoring in the sewer lines. The process provides information about how sewage flows through the system in all types of weather.

Schmitt said they're finalizing the process of where to put the monitors and how many to use.

Tim Kuhns, the authority's assistant manager, said monitoring is the next step now that mapping the lines and running a video camera through them is complete.

Kuhns said the monitoring process likely will take a year, although it could be finished sooner, depending on weather.

Kuhns did not have a cost estimate for total compliance with the decree. Authority officials have estimated flow monitoring will cost about $500,000.

Customers pay a $5 surcharge toward projects relating to compliance.

The authority serves all or parts of the communities of Brackenridge, Buffalo Township, East Deer, Fawn, Frazer, Harrison and Tarentum.

In other business:

• Authority Manager Morgan O'Dell reported the authority has switched electricity providers to save money.

The authority entered into a three-year contract with FirstEnergy Solutions that will cut rates from about 6.2 cents per kilowatt hour to about 4.8 cents per kwh.

Kuhns estimated the rate reduction will save the authority $6,000 in monthly energy costs. The authority previously contracted with Direct Energy.

• O'Dell and Kuhns said they are working to improve billing after encountering glitches in switching accounting systems.

Kuhns said they put the new system online about three months ago, starting with payroll.

In switching customer bills to the new system, there was a delay in sending out bills. O'Dell said those issues were resolved.

Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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