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McKeesport sewer system upgrade progress on track

| Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, 10:47 a.m.
Crews are active on various construction sites within the grounds of Municipal Authority of the City of McKeesport's Tenth Ward treatment facility. Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Workers Justin Kaminsky and Don Lundberg monitor systems at the Municipal Authority of the City of McKeesport's Cliff Street Pumping Station, which is the first of several renovated and/or new facilities to be up and running. This station pumps sewage from North Versailles Township and McKeesport's East End. Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
The West Shore Pumping Station is under construction primarily to handle flow from Elizabeth Township, Versailles and portions of White Oak that travels to the Municipal Authority of the City of McKeesport's Tenth Ward treatment plant. Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News

With eight months of work remaining at its Tenth Ward treatment plant and nearly two years until its last pump house is complete, the Municipal Authority of the City of McKeesport is on track with its expansion.

A tour on Wednesday morning of the authority's structural assets showed promise and progress in its effort to comply with state Act 537, in which the Department of Environmental Protection mandated the separation of storm and sanitary sewers.

Project engineer Steve Greenberg of KLH said it's a wonderful feat for McKeesport's municipal authority to be on schedule and on budget with improvements that include the $35 million expansion of its treatment facility and the construction or renovation of five directional pumping stations.

The planning process began in 1995 when the project was put through a detailed course of public hearings, environmental studies and engineering reports.

“It's very complex,” Greenberg said. “It's taken this long to get through planning, permitting and now construction.”

The authority's Cliff Street Pumping Station, which carries sewage toward the Tenth Ward plant from North Versailles Township and McKeesport's East End, is the first renovated pump house to be fully functional.

“There's still site work and restoration to complete, but it's up and running,” Greenberg said.

East of the Youghiogheny River, operations manager Chuck Schultz said, the authority's Twenty-Eighth Street Pumping Station is on schedule for functioning on Jan. 22. The Long Run Pumping Station, located at the intersection of Walnut and Will streets, will follow by another month or two.

Farther out along Long Run, a Rippel Road Pumping Station is planned for property that currently houses three PennDOT sheds. The site is under contract, but the sale has not been closed.

“Approximately 18 months after the purchase is final, the new pump station will be complete,” authority board chairman Nick Shermenti said.

Across the Youghiogheny River, lines are in place to accept wastewater from the Buena Vista treatment facility in Elizabeth Township, a state-commanded acquisition that will bring an additional 7 million gallons of sewage per day to McKeesport's Tenth Ward plant.

“We've already set pipe in position, and it's waiting for Elizabeth Township's connection,” Schultz explained. “They're responsible for getting from their plant to our connection line.”

On its way to the Tenth Ward plant, wastewater from Elizabeth Township will meet sewage from Versailles and portions of White Oak at the West Shore Pumping Station. Schultz explained that crews will bore a pipe passage beneath the Youghiogheny River bed to complete all of the connections.

“It's all step by step by step,” he said. “One step has to be complete before another can be done.”

Shermenti said the Tenth Ward plant, which is growing from a 20-million to a 56-million peak capacity, will be fully operational by August.

“It's going to be an adequate size to handle the flow from our neighboring communities,” he said. “This is a major project that's helping the authority meet state mandates, and it's helping the city of McKeesport.”

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or