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Trafford settles WWMA lawsuit

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By Chris Foreman
Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Trafford Borough is paying nearly $82,000 to the Western Westmoreland Municipal Authority to settle a 4-year-old lawsuit and will begin paying the authority a quarterly fee to cover the customers served by a long-disputed sewage interceptor line.

The settlement, which Trafford Council unanimously approved on Dec. 17, ended a case that the authority, or WWMA, filed in January 2009. WWMA officials released a copy of the settlement last month after the Penn-Trafford Star filed a request under the state's Right-To-Know Law.

The lump sum of $81,679 and the monthly fees, which will be based on WWMA's charge in the Ardara-Cavittsville rate district, represent Trafford's first payments to the authority since the borough connected to the interceptor line in 1978. Based on the 48 customers who now are served by the line, Trafford will pay the authority $5,011 per quarter.

Under the borough's new rate structure, which takes effect this year, Trafford would collect $8,154 from those customers if all 48 are average users, meaning they use 15,000 gallons of water per household per quarter.

Though most of Trafford's sewage customers are served directly by Alcosan, and these 48 customers are served by Alcosan via the WWMA interceptor, all pay the same monthly rate.

“We're treating it as one system,” Councilman Casey Shoub said. “Everybody's treated the same.”

The lawsuit sprung from WWMA officials' initial claim that Trafford officials tapped into the interceptor line without authority permission and collected sewage revenue from the affected customers.

But meeting minutes for WWMA in 1977 showed that the authority's board discussed a connection with Trafford and Alcosan officials. WWMA's then-chairman said he didn't think it was necessary to amend the authority's service agreement — which covers six communities but not Trafford — to include the interceptor, according to court records.

Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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