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Sewickley-Sutersville authority explores leasing Elizabeth Township sewage plant

| Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, 12:02 a.m.

Sewickley-Sutersville Municipal Sewage Authority may explore leasing a treatment plant in neighboring Elizabeth Township to weather difficult financial times while awaiting a decision on more state funding.

Officials of the 515-customer system reported at this week's meeting that the Pennsylvania Infrastructure and Investment Authority, or PennVEST, received audits from 2008 to 2011, which were recently prepared.

The sewage authority sent a letter to PennVEST in August requesting funding as its coffers dwindle and rates have increased.

Board members authorized solicitor Rich Schimizzi to contact Elizabeth Township Sewage Authority with its position on a request for consent to sever a 50-year inter-municipal sewage service agreement.

The Sutersville authority is considering a number of options to cut expenses without increasing customer rates.

One is to remain under the agreement with the Elizabeth Township authority, which is considering bypassing the Buena Vista plant that treats Sutersville's sewage, because of renovation costs and instead transporting it to McKeesport for treatment.

Schimizzi and board members Rich Bosko and John Goodrum met with Sewickley Township and sewage authority officials there last week to discuss another option: constructing a line through the Cowansburg pump station to connect with the Municipal Sewage Authority of the Township of Sewickley.

Schimizzi said township engineers have drafted a rough construction design estimate for a 29,000-foot — or 5 12-mile — line at a cost of almost $2 million. An additional capital-contribution fee for each customer could be included.

He said the plan is in the very early stages, if agreed upon by the board.

“There's a whole lot of issues that would have to be addressed before anybody puts a shovel to the ground,” Schimizzi said.

Another route for the line that's being drawn up at the request of township and sewage officials that would be less direct, but would enable more remote properties with potential for development to connect to the system.

Treasurer George Herbert asked the board to consider leasing the Buena Vista plant from Elizabeth Township, if the decrease from its current capacity would ease the extent of renovations required by the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Goodrum and other board members agreed to investigate the possibility through the Allegheny County sewage treatment authority.

“Let's at least let the experts tell us, ‘that's a great idea,' or ‘that's a bad idea,” Goodrum said.

Sutersville could build its own treatment plant in Scott Haven, an idea that was abandoned when the system was installed in 2006 because of the estimated cost of $3.5 million.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or sfederoff@tribweb.com.

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