Panel recommends more consolidation of sewer and wastewater systems in Allegheny County
The planned $2 billion in federally required sewer upgrades likely will force dozens of Allegheny County municipalities and agencies to consolidate their wastewater treatment and stormwater and sewer lines, a regional panel said Friday as it issued its final report.
If the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (Alcosan) and the 83 municipalities it serves do not cooperate with each other, the price tag will balloon and there could be federal fines.
“This is going to cost a boat-load of money. We need to do this wisely,” said Patricia Schaefer, president of the Edgewood borough council and a member of the Sewer Regionalization Review Panel assembled two years ago by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development.
The group, which spent two years developing recommendations, calls for transfer of inter-municipal sewer lines and wastewater control facilities to Alcosan, consolidation of wastewater control systems and appointment of a coordinator by Allegheny County to oversee the task of bringing the area's antiquated water treatment systems into compliance with the federal Clean Water Act.
“This time is different. We have this consent decree hanging over us,” Jared Cohon, president of Carnegie Mellon University and president of the panel, said of the need for regional coordination.
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, a member of the panel, said that failing to follow its recommendations could make the big price tag even larger.
“If we don't cooperate, this will cost even more money and the federal government will fine the heck out of us,” he said.
Shaler Manager Tim Rodgers said the panel's recommendations will make it easier for municipalities to comply with federal regulations and will also mean less work for municipal officials.
“The transfer of the primary mains makes sense for the municipalities and for Alcosan. If Alcosan takes these over, it takes a lot of work off of our plate. They will be able to manage the flow, and any future facilities that are needed will be built by Alcosan,” he said.
In January, Alcosan asked the federal government for an 18-month extension to modify its plan to comply with a federal consent decree, in effect since 2007. The modifications could incorporate green infrastructure in the upgrades.
Many water authorities across the country, such as Philadelphia's, manage everything, which Alcosan director Arletta Scott Williams said would make things easier here.
“A single entity managing that process is much more efficient. There are 83 communities that are responsible for street sewers here,” she said.
Alcosan owns 90 miles of wastewater lines and a North Side plant that can treat 250 million gallons of water a day. In the communities it serves, there are more than 4,000 miles of smaller sewer lines.
If a single water authority is ideal, other cities have nonetheless overcome municipal fragmentation, said Jennifer Kennedy, director of the Clean Rivers Campaign, a coalition of six nonprofits in Pittsburgh.
“These recommendations are a great step toward being able to cooperate. Milwaukee and Cincinnati are cities that have developed plans across municipalities and are both doing innovative green projects,” she said.
Green technology makes use of rain gardens, porous pavement, green roofs and wetlands to prevent rainwater from entering sanitary systems, which causes sewer overflows into the rivers.
Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
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.
- McCutchen, Pirates hitters increasingly in crosshairs
- Woman shot outside Kennywood Park in West Mifflin
- Locke pitches 8 scoreless innings as Pirates edge Indians
- State-owned universities spend millions in race to snare students
- Pirates minor league report: Ramirez more mindful while at plate
- Starting 9: Pirates missing out on young bat
- Biertempfel: Loss of All-Star paper ballots a blow to nostalgia
- Innovation enhances Philadelphia’s history as Democrats convene, Pope Francis visits
- Pirates trust eye test when voting for all-stars
- Keystone Markers give insights about towns but have fallen victim to time, theft or traffic accidents
- Gameday: Pirates vs. Indians, July 5, 2015