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Springdale Township residents hire attorney to get sewer answers

| Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, 12:51 a.m.

Springdale Township residents hope finally to get some answers within a week on how much a sewage project on their streets is going to cost them.

Residents from nearly all 17 properties affected by the project attended Thursday's supervisors meeting. They were represented by Pittsburgh attorney Krista Kochosky.

“I have come here … to secure further information for them that appears to be lacking, so they can better prepare themselves for what's happening,” Kochosky told the board.

The township has proposed replacing septic systems at 17 homes and a vacant lot on Melzina and Adeline streets with a low-pressure sewage system.

The system is different than a gravitational system and requires residents to install an electrical line to a grinder pump that grinds the sewage and pumps it to the main line.

Payments for each of the homes are estimated at $240 a month for 10 years, or nearly $30,000 apiece, plus regular sewage fees and an electrical charge to operate the pump.

In August, the township delayed beginning work on the project when residents complained about the projected payments.

“Our residents' committee thought hiring an attorney was a good idea because we weren't getting any answers,” said Jack Burns of Melzina Street.

Kochosky and township Solicitor Steve Yakopec agreed to discuss the ordinance that outlines the project and costs within the next five business days and to meet with the three-resident committee representing the homeowners on Thursday evening.

At the supervisors meeting, Kochosky noted that the project has started even though the township still needs to pass an ordinance establishing the sewage district.

Officials have said they were worried about losing grant money if work didn't start before the grant's termination date of Oct. 31.

The township received a $200,000 grant from the Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund (CITF) for the project. The township will take out a loan for the rest.

The project is estimated to cost about $513,000 — up nearly $100,000 from the $411,000 the township included in its grant application.

The added expense is due to engineering, legal and inspection fees, said Rich Knapek of Senate Engineering, the township's engineering firm.

So far, the main sewage line and a manhole have been installed, he said.

The township on Thursday authorized a payment of nearly $79,000 to Independent Enterprises, Inc., the general contractor for the project, for the work.

Kochosky asked for several pieces of information, including:

• Documentation that shows that the sewage project is required either by the county or the state Department of Environmental Protection;

• Whether another type of sewage system was considered for the area;

• Whether the township would consider allowing residents to hire their own contractor to install the lateral line that runs from the main line to their homes.

The Allegheny County Health Department sent the township a letter in 2007 stating that there are septic systems malfunctioning in the neighborhood that must be addressed.

Kochosky noted the letter “requested” an evaluation of the area.

Once the township decided on a project, it took the unusual step of including in its contract the installation of the lateral lines and the grinders.

Typically, a municipality installs the main line, and residents are responsible for hiring a contractor and footing the bill for connecting their homes to the sewage line.

“If we do it ourselves, it will cost less than $8,000 a household,” Burns said. “We'd much rather pay that.”

Township officials did not explain why they included the laterals in the project.

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or jweigand@tribweb.com.

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