Multi-agency agreements pave the way for Pucketa Creek sewage access in Murrysville
Murrysville officials have joined other agencies in clearing the way for property owners adjacent to the Washington Township sewage system to gain public sewer access, ending a process that has dragged on for more than a decade.
“When I started here nine years ago, there was a list of old-business items,” Jim Morrison, Murrysville's chief administrator, said. “This is the last item from that list. And it was probably the one that required the most patience.”
What began as a small group of homeowners looking to tie into the nearby Municipal Authority of Washington Township sewer lines eventually involved multiple governments and sewage authorities, court spats and finally the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Tying into Murrysville's existing sewer lines, owned by the Franklin Township Municipal Sanitary Authority, or FTMSA, would have been financially unfeasible, and several property owners were stuck with failing septic systems they could not repair or replace, due to their proximity to Pucketa Creek.
“Back in 1963, what was at that time Franklin Township granted authority for all sewer-related items to the (FTMSA),” Morrison said. “Over the last nine years, for one reason or another, they were not as excited about the project as homeowners and the other municipal authorities were. And as a result, it never happened.”
Ultimately, Murrysville officials and FTMSA identified 37 properties within the Pucketa Creek Watershed with the potential to tie into Washington Township's lines, although only a handful of property owners had actually expressed interest.
A few years ago, FTMSA officials threw their support behind the proposal, “and then Washington Township and another township, who need not be named at this point, decided they wanted their pound of flesh, and decided to drag things out,” Morrison told council members at a meeting Wednesday.
That unnamed township is Allegheny Township and its municipal authority . The authority's solicitor, Bernie Matthews, said his board members signed a separate agreement between Allegheny Township, its municipal authority, Murrysville and FTMSA.
The agreement unanimously approved by Murrysville council — members Jamie Lee Korns and Tony Spadaro were not present — includes Murrysville, FTMSA, Washington Township and its sewage authority, and the Kiski Valley Water Pollution Control Authority , where sewage from the newly tapped properties ultimately will end up.
Michael Rathburn has been holding onto his family's property in the Pucketa Creek Watershed for three years in hopes of finally gaining access to Washington Township's lines. He said he is cautiously optimistic about the situation moving forward.
“It's been such a long process, I don't want to assume anything until I get the official paperwork,” he said. “I've been crossing my fingers and hoping for the best that we would reach this point.”
Morrison seemed satisfied that the situation has been resolved.
“This has been a long time, and it's financially impacted residents of Murrysville who will now have access to sewer,” he said.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862 or email@example.com.