Penn Hills continues to address aging sewage system
Another round of sewer repairs set to occur this summer is slated to cost Penn Hills around $870,000.
Penn Hills Council unanimously approve two separate bids May 20 that include 32 sanitary sewer repairs for $583,000 and 40 lining repairs for $288,000. The work could start around mid-June, said Rick Minsterman, a project engineer with Gateway Engineers.
Minsterman did not have a specific location for the repairs, which he said will be spread throughout the municipality.
The money will come out of the municipality’s Consent Decree Compliance budget, which totalled $1.6 million in this year’s overall spending plan.
The expense follows significant repairs in 2018 that cost around $900,000 to replace 41 sections of sewer lines, lining 49 sections and cleaning pipes at a pump station on Jade Drive.
The work is part of ongoing repairs the municipality began over a decade ago when it was placed under a criminal consent decree by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and state Department of Environmental Protection to fix the sewer system.
The consent decree has since been lifted, but the county still remains under a consent agreement with the DEP to continue upgrading its sewage system. Work started in 2008.
The municipality has spent $36 million since 2010 to update and fix its sewage system. Councilman John Petrucci has said he expects the rest of the $64 million in repairs to be finished by 2034.
The municipality spent $1.4 million on consent decree sewer projects in 2018.
Penn Hills has 244 miles of underground sewer lines, 12 pump stations, seven equalization stations and two sewage treatment plants. Most of that infrastructure, according to Water Pollution Control Department Director Tom O’Grady, was installed in the 1950s and ‘60s and was made of clay, which has weakened over the years.
The repairs translate to climbing sewage bills for Penn Hills residents.
Residential sewage rates ranged from $11 to $13 per 1,000 gallons used from 2010 to 2016. In 2017, the municipality’s rate jumped to $17.88 and now sits at $19.37. The rates do not include Allegheny County Sanitary Authority’s yearly increases. The fee currently sits at $9.52 per 1,000 gallons used. In 2010, that number was $4.68. Penn Hills officials have no control over the rates charged by Alcosan.
According to Alcosan, the average customer uses approximately 13,000 gallons of water per quarter.
In April, residents’ service fee of $30 per quarter, paid to the municipality, was lowered to $25 per quarter in an effort to offer some relief. The decrease will save 17,377 residential sewage customers $20 per year.
Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter .