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Penns Woods sewer line replacement expected to be 'messy, dirty and loud'

| Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Heavy equipment will be rolling into a part of North Huntingdon's Penns Woods housing plan this summer for a project to replace faulty sanitary sewer lines.

“Unfortunately, the work is going to be messy, dirty and loud,” said Mike Branthoover, finance director for the North Huntingdon Township Municipal Authority. “But we will do our best to minimize the negative impact on the neighborhood.”

Authority officials did not anticipate doing the line-replacement work in Penns Woods until 2015, but it was rescheduled for this year after the state Department of Environmental Resources, or DEP, nixed the authority's plan to replace a 1.5-mile section of line that feeds into the Western Westmoreland Municipal Authority's sewage treatment plant on Route 993, Branthoover said.

State environmental officials want upgrades to the treatment plant that are scheduled for this year to be completed before improvements are made to the sewer lines that feed into the facility, Branthoover said.

Bids for the estimated $2 million Penns Woods project will be sought during the next several weeks, with work expected to begin in June and be completed by December, Branthoover said.

Residents will receive 24-hour advance notice of street closures, he said.

The project will involve replacing about 8,000 feet of old 8-inch sewer lines, which are made of terra cotta, with new 8-inch lines made from PVC plastic.

Work will be done along all or part of 11 township streets.

The primary reason old sewer lines must be replaced is to reduce the amount of storm water and melting ice and snow that seep in through cracks in the old pipe, according the DEP.

“Infiltration and inflow of storm water into a sanitary sewer system can quickly overload the capacity of a sanitary sewer system,” said Morgan Wagner, a DEP spokeswoman. “The sanitary sewer (systems) are not designed for rapid inflow and infiltration, so when this happens it can result in pollution entering waterways.”

In the Norwin area, Brush Creek is the waterway most affected by pollution discharges.

Once the main lines have been replaced, contractors will install a portion of the lateral line that leads to each property, Branthoover said.

Special cameras then will be used to inspect the existing lateral lines connected to homes to determine if there are cracks that let storm water enter, he said. Dye tests also will be conducted to determine if roof downspouts are improperly tied into the sanitary-sewer lines.

If the lateral lines need to be repaired or replaced — or downspouts have to be disconnected — it will be the household's responsibility to pay for the work unless its income is low enough to be eligible for a federal grant. Of the 205 homes affected by the project, 32 will get grants.

“It could be a spot repair or the whole line, but we won't know that until after they are inspected,” Branthoover said. “We can provide residents with a list of licensed contractors from the area who can do the work, but we stress that people should get several estimates before hiring somebody.”

Tony LaRussa is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or at tlarussa@tribweb.com.

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