New Ken municipal authority prepares to upgrade sewer system
By early next year, the Municipal Sanitary Authority of New Kensington should have a preliminary idea of the improvements — and its costs — needed to comply with state and federal environmental regulations.
Like many regional sewage authorities, New Kensington's is mandated to reduce the amount of untreated sewage that overflows into Puckety Creek and the Allegheny River during heavy rains.
Kemal Niksic with the engineering firm Hatch Mott MacDonald on Wednesday presented an update on the authority's efforts to residents and officials of MSANK's member communities, which include Arnold, Lower Burrell, New Kensington and a small portion of Plum.
Niksic said the authority must submit a long-term plan for curbing sewage overflows to the state Department of Environmental Protection and federal Environmental Protection Agency by next September.
That plan likely will include a combination of upgrades to the treatment plant in New Kensington and efforts to reduce the amount of stormwater entering the system.
Niksic said the goal will be to capture and treat at least 85 percent of sewage during heavy rains.
At the same time, the engineers will be compiling economic and demographic information to determine whether the communities can afford the full scope of improvements.
Niksic noted that the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority estimated it would cost $3.6 billion to bring its considerably larger system into compliance but is trying to negotiate a $2 billion alternative since it does not believe customers can foot the full bill.
“We'll try to do what's best for all of our communities,” Niksic said of the New Kensington authority's project.
He said the authority will pursue all grants and loans available to reduce the cost that ultimately falls on ratepayers.
Niksic said he's hoping to call another public meeting in early 2014 to present a preliminary version of the plan, which should include cost estimates that aren't yet available.
Possible improvements could include:
• Upgrades at the sewage treatment plant to increase the amount of sewage that can be treated. While the plant can pump 20 million gallons per day, it can only fully treat about 15.5 million gallons, which can be insufficient during wet weather.
In a typical year, the plant treats about 2.3 billion gallons of sewage. About 50 million gallons per year overflows from the combined sewers and 83 million gallons come from storm sewers.
• Reduce the amount of stormwater that infiltrates the system by repairing leaking pipes, manholes and other facilities.
• Add storage facilities as needed to hold excess sewage until flow decreases and the plant is no longer overwhelmed with stormwater.
• Separate some combined sewers in Arnold and New Kensington uphill of Constitution Boulevard and upgrade the Drey Street treatment plant in Arnold.
• Add “green” spaces using planters, gardens and porous concrete that absorb water and slow the rate at which it flows to the plant.
• Consolidate and expand the capacity of the combined sewer overflows in New Kensington at Fifth Street, which would have the added benefit of moving it farther away from the marina at Seventh Street.
Niksic said that has been deemed a sensitive area that should have better water quality, because people are coming in contact with the river.
“The goal here is to have cleaner waters,” he said.
New Kensington Mayor Tom Guzzo said he is happy to hear the plan, which likely will propose taking 20 years to fully implement the upgrades. They would be created in five-year phases that would allow opportunities to review how effective each phase has been.
Lower Burrell Mayor Don Kinosz said he thinks the initial focus should be on reducing the amount of unnecessary water that is entering the system, which could reduce the amount of treatment upgrades needed.
Dan “Skip” Rowe, the authority's manager, said he's pleased with the progress the engineers have made so far and the cooperation they're receiving from member communities.
“We're working hard to get this done at the right price,” he said.
Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- USW workers to march on ATI headquarters
- High-rise medical visits aimed at curbing 911 calls in New Kensington
- Judge lets New Kensington Ten Commandments monument stand
- Freeport to address sewage bill deadbeats
- ATI workers retire early to ensure pension
- Animal Protectors of Allegheny Valley offers free services at clinic
- Freeport sells 2 school buildings for $175,000
- Arnold teen accused of stealing Ferrari
- Hyde Park Community Days features local talent ‘Mia Z’
- Upper Allegheny Joint Sanitary Authority continues cleanup
- Woman ‘critical’ from fall on Harmar riverbank