Park could be site for wastewater holding tank
A 120-foot diameter, earth-toned wastewater holding tank — that is nearly the size of half of a football field — could be built into the wooded hillside in Colewood Park in Baldwin Borough, engineers said.
In an effort to meet state and federal mandates to reduce inflow and infiltration into the sewage system in the Lick Run watershed, Baldwin Borough engineers Tuesday told about 40 residents who were at an informational meeting at Leland Center that the most cost-effective plan they crafted was to build a equalization tank in the neighborhood park, where excess flow would be pumped and stored.
Piping would be added throughout the borough to route the flow to the tank.
“Considerable time was put into every aspect of this,” solicitor Michael Lederman said. “This wasn't just a quick decision.”
Residents, though, questioned the size, odor and how the proposed plan could affect their property values.
“So chances are pretty good that our property values will decrease?” Overland Trail resident Dan Allemang asked.
Baldwin Borough is a part of two water systems — the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority and the Pleasant Hills Authority — and in turn is under two consent decrees to improve the sewage system to meet state and federal mandates, engineer Larry Souleret, of Lennon, Smith and Souleret said.
Municipalities in the Pleasant Hills Authority service area include Pleasant Hills, Baldwin Borough, Whitehall and South Park. The four municipalities are working to comply with the state Department of Environmental Protection's consent decree to reduce overflow issues. If the borough does not meet the decree, it would be subject to fines, engineer Ned Mitrovich said.
“There's a lot of infiltration in the system. Pipes are old, they're cracked, we've been making repairs to lessen the amount of rainwater that gets into the system,” Souleret said.
In the event of a large rain storm, the system cannot handle all of the intake coming from Baldwin, Souleret said.
Flows are in excess of 45 million gallons, while a new plant is being built in the Pleasant Hills Authority system to hold 25 million gallons, he said. Building a plant to hold 45 million gallons “just doesn't work,” Souleret said.
“So the excess flow has to be taken out of the system temporarily and then released back into the system slowly so that the plant can process the water,” Souleret said.
That is why the equalization tank is needed, he said.
“These improvements have to be made. They're required by the consent order,” Souleret said.
But it won't fix everything. The tank is designed to meet the needs of a “two-year storm,” or a storm that has a 50 percent chance of happening every year, Mitrovich said.
“It's not a cure all,” he said.
The cost, likely will be about $7.5 million, Mitrovich said. That likely will mean a $7 per month increase in sewage bills for Baldwin Borough residents, simply for this project, he said.
“Sewage rates are going to go up. There's just no way to keep them where they are,” Souleret said.
Residents and borough leaders alike expressed concerns about the project, if it would create a smell and how it would affect their homes.
The equalization tank will have a charcoal filter, Souleret said, and will not be noisy. There will be a generator to keep it running in case the electricity goes out.
“There's going to be some inconvenience,” Souleret said, noting that one of the pipelines that will be replaced goes down the center of Ranchview Drive. “I'm not going to sit here and tell you that this is going to be clean and that we're not going to have any complaints, because I know we will.”
Councilman John “Butch” Ferris said he would like to look at other options.
“I cannot sit here and look at all of the faces of my neighbors that are puzzled, scared and very upset,” Ferris said. “I think that we most definitely need to look at different avenues.”
Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or firstname.lastname@example.org.