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Delmont tackles smell, sewage debt problems from faulty pumps

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By Amanda Dolasinski
Monday, June 17, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Problems with noxious smells and rising sewage debt, the result of burned-out waste pumps, could end for Delmont residents this winter.

Last week, council approved advertising for bids for improvements to the Cramer Pump Station. The project is expected to cost more than $750,000.

“It's been needed for 20-plus years,” Mayor Gil Sanchez said. “It's an outdated system that couldn't handle all the extra homes that have been built in the last 20 years.”

The project will be financed entirely through a loan. There have been discussions on obtaining state and federal grants, but the borough has not been able to, Sanchez said.

The station is in Salem Township, but an intergovernmental agreement requires Delmont to oversee operations and maintenance.

The average sewer bill for Delmont residents is about $43 a month.

Cramer Pump Station, which serves a little more than half the homes in Delmont and some in Salem Township, collects waste and treats it with chemicals to control odors before sending it to Franklin Township Municipal Sanitary Authority. The four pumps at the station have frequently broken down and required expensive repairs.

Engineers estimate between $5,000 and $10,000 is spent on repairs each time a pump breaks. A total tally for repairs was not immediately available.

“The whole idea behind this plan is not to keep nickel-and-diming like we've been doing,” Sanchez said. “It needs to be updated and hopefully get another 50 years out of the new system.”

Pumps have previously broken down when water clogged the system because of heavy storm flooding or simply because of their old age, Sanchez said. Another serious problem has been when gas from chemicals used to treat the waste escaped through manholes, annoying Monticello Drive residents.

“There's nothing worse than being outside on a hot July day barbecuing and smelling waste,” Sanchez said. “Nobody ever wanted to face that it needed major repairs because it would cost us so much money. We need it.”

Plans include the installation of a new wet wall between the ramp and existing pump station, a new generator and a new roof. New pumps will be sturdier and expected to last longer, said Kevin Brett, the borough's engineer.

“For the era this was built in, this was typical,” he said. “But the technology has changed.”

Officials said they hope to award a contract in August and complete the project by winter.

Staff writer Daveen Rae Kurutz contributed to this report. Amanda Dolasinski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6220 or adolasinski@tribweb.com.

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