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State rep: DEP consent order for Delmont sewage issue 'is going to move forward'

Patrick Varine
| Wednesday, May 9, 2018, 4:25 p.m.
Above, two Delmont Borough manholes spew a mix of storm water and untreated sewage onto the Salem Township property belonging to the Rock Springs Trust on Feb. 26, 2018.
Submitted photo
Above, two Delmont Borough manholes spew a mix of storm water and untreated sewage onto the Salem Township property belonging to the Rock Springs Trust on Feb. 26, 2018.

State and local officials met behind closed doors Wednesday to discuss how to solve overflow and infiltration issues with their sewer system, which has been discharging both onto a Salem Township property and into a creek that feeds the Beaver Run Reservoir for more than two decades — to the disappointment of the resident of the land being befouled.

Part of that solution, read into the record at the borough council's April meeting, includes a new sewer interceptor, which collects and slows down large flows so they don't rush down the line all at once.

Ed Rebitch, whose family lives on the Rock Springs Trust property that has been on the receiving end of the sewage, does not believe a new interceptor is the right solution. He and his family have long contended that the borough's main problem is excess storm water infiltrating the sewer system and causing the sewer-line overflows.

Rebitch wanted to convey that information to the group that met Wednesday morning at State Rep. Eric Nelson's office. However, Rebitch said he was not permitted to participate in the closed-door meeting.

“I've had a number of discussions with Ed and been out to the farm to tour the ground,” Nelson said. “It's a very difficult situation.”

Nelson met Wednesday morning with officials from Delmont and Salem Township, staff from both his and State Sen. Kim Ward's office and officials from the Department of Environmental Protection but said the group “wasn't quite to the point yet where we were ready to sit down and sort of share ‘this is where we're at' with Ed.”

The meeting wasn't publicized or advertised; Rebitch said he found out about it secondhand.

Nelson said his goal is “to facilitate a common dialogue, to bring people together and, one, ensure that there is a plan to move forward that's in concert with the DEP's expectations and, two, meet the achievable improvements we want to attain.”

Nelson said he hopes to help secure state grant money that can be applied to the situation.

“There are programs that the state has for sewage and water grants,” he said. “One of the things I felt was important was having an action plan to move forward. ... If we have a good plan in place, that will help to possibly secure some state grants.”

Nelson said DEP officials attending the meeting did not give a specific date for issuing an order to Delmont outlining what they must do to mitigate the overflows, “but they did say it's going to move forward.”

“There's infrastructure, prevention and conservation elements all coming together to try and improve the situation,” Nelson said.

For his part, Rebitch continued to request a meeting with borough council members and the other groups involved.

“Walk that site and see what's going on,” he told council. “It's not just impacting us, it's impacting the watershed and the water quality.”

Delmont solicitor Dan Hewitt said council “at this point is waiting for the DEP to provide us with a dictate. That's the standing right now, and that's the only answer we can give.”

Rebitch said his family and the trust need a solution, and soon.

“Don't expect us to continue to subsidize your problem,” he said.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862, or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.

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