Share This Page

Authority to be fined for sewage discharges into Allegheny River

| Saturday, March 29, 2014, 12:16 a.m.

The Allegheny Valley Joint Sewage Authority will be fined for sewage discharges into the Allegheny River that occurred between 2010 and 2012 at its treatment plant in Harmar, a state Department of Environmental Protection spokesman said on Friday.

The agency and the authority are negotiating a consent order and agreement, DEP spokesman John Poister said. The agency is expected to file a response next week.

The amount of the fine has not yet been determined, Poister said. The agreement is nearing finalization.

The violations relate to discharges of raw or inadequately treated material into the river, Allegheny County Health Department spokesman Guillermo Cole said.

The authority's treatment facility serves Cheswick, Harmar, Springdale and Springdale Township.

Poister said there were 39 instances between 2010 and 2012 when discharge didn't meet state standards. Of those, 20 were for total suspended solids in the water, and nine involved fecal matter.

The authority's board recently discussed the violations in a meeting closed to the public. At that time, plant Manager Richard Chiavetta claimed there was nothing to say about it, calling it a “point of discussion” for the board.

Chiavetta on Friday referred questions to the authority's environmental attorney, Kevin Garber. Garber said the issue first arose in spring 2013.

“We've been discussing (the agreement) and have had meetings and exchanged thoughts and comments on the document. Because it's still under investigation, I can't really comment on what it says or where it will come out,” Garber said.

Garber said the authority believes not all of the reported violations were true violations; rather, some may be due to inaccurate readings of the flow coming from the plant. To fix that, the physical devices used to measure the flow, called “weirs,” have been moved to get more accurate readings, he said.

The authority has no recent violations, Poister said.

The consent order and agreement will address the proper monitoring of the system and the prevention of future effluent violations, Poister said.

Language on the development and implementation of a wet weather operations plan will be included in the agreement, Poister said.

During heavy rains, sewage treatment plants can be overwhelmed by flow from combined sanitary and storm sewers, resulting in untreated sewage being released into waterways. The federal Environmental Protection Agency is requiring elimination of at least 80 percent of such combined sewage overflows in this region, Poister said.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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.