Authority OKs $11.3 million upgrade of Jeannette sewer system
Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County board members approved a multi-million dollar upgrade of the Jeannette sewer system that officials said will reduce backflows that have inundated local homes and businesses during times of heavy rain.
The $11.3 million project will replace and line existing pipes throughout the city as well as upgrade a sewer plant in Penn Borough. A start date for the project has not been set.
“This will ease the sewer backups during high rain events and get storm water out of the sewer system,” authority business manager Brian Hohman said.
The upgrades will be paid out of the authority’s capital improvement funds it secured through a $220 million loan in 2016.
Plans for the Jeannette project had been in place before the authority purchased the city’s sewer system in 2015, when Jeannette officials hiked sewer rates to pay for the proposed work. Municipal Authority officials said that no additional rate hike is necessary to pay for the project.
The Municipal Authority paid $4 million in cash and assumed $18 million in debt as part of the $22 million deal to purchase the Jeannette system and as part of the deal the county utility agreed to follow through with the planned upgrades to the system.
Those upgrades have been in the planning stages for more than three years and the project has received approval from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, Hohman said.
Jeannette residents have for years struggled with backflow issues at times of heavy rains including a storm last month in which the city’s fire department received more than three dozen calls from residents who claimed their homes were inundated with sewage.
The project, expected to be completed by July 2022, will include removal of stormwater catch basins throughout the city’s sewer system, realignment and increasing the size of sewer pipes along Chambers Avenue; redesign and consolidation of lines that handle both sewage and stormwater; and an increase to the capacity of the sewer system’s treatment plant in Penn.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .