Lower Burrell faces expensive fix for sewer line serving half of city
City officials will have to decide how and when it will fix a high-pressure sewage line serving half of Lower Burrell, potentially costing between $1.25 million and $1.75 million.
The milelong, high-pressure line pumps sewage from the Chartiers pump station at the bottom of Edgecliff Road up to Leechburg Road. From there, gravity allows the sewage to flow down to the Municipal Sanitary Authority of the City of New Kensington’s treatment plant.
The line, decades-old and made of cast iron, has ruptured three times in the last year, according to Kevin Lettrich, chairman of the Lower Burrell Municipal Authority.
During line ruptures, residents’ service is not disrupted.
However, raw sewage runs down Edgecliff Road and into Chartiers Creek, which the Authority reports to the state Department of Environmental Protection. The Authority’s work crews have to clean up the sewage, fix the break and sometimes haul the sewage away, according to Lettrich.
“The line is rotting out, and we will have to do something in the next six months to a year,” said Lettrich, who reported the situation to Lower Burrell Council last week.
He is asking council to add the money for the line repair to a bridge loan for the engineering work on the renovation of the Chartiers pump station. The pump station is close to 30 years old and experiencing issues such as outdated mechanical and electronic equipment, according to Scott Johnson, the city’s public works foreman.
First though, the Lower Burrell Municipal Authority will have its engineers determine the pros and cons of relining the high-pressure line, which could cost about $1.25 million, or replacing it, potentially costing $1.75 million, according to Lettrich.
With that estimate, the Authority will add in the engineering for the pump station — potentially asking for $1.5 million to $2 million total for the bridge loan. City council would have to approve the loan.
Ultimately that money will be recouped in a low-interest PennVest loan that the Municipal Authority plans to pursue.
Paying for the pump station project was already in the Municipal Authority’s long term control plan to eliminate sewage overflows. The city, along with many other municipalities, is under orders by environmental authorities to reduce or eliminate sewage overflows.
Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter .