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Delmont to care facility: 'Flushable' wipes causing sewer problems

Patrick Varine
| Wednesday, May 25, 2016, 3:15 p.m.

Delmont officials are working with a local senior care facility to try to prevent its employees from introducing improper materials into the borough's sewage system.

The presence of personal hygiene wipes has caused serious problems for the system, according to borough officials. While many varieties are advertised as “flushable,” they do not break down like toilet paper and can clog pipes and get caught in sewage facilities like Delmont's Cramer pump station.

Delmont and Salem officials were able to track the wipes to their source, which they say is Ark Manor, a senior care facility on Sandra Drive in Salem.

Ark Manor Owner Ben Willner said he has been in contact with Delmont Public Works head Bill Heaps “to really work together and get this straightened out.”

“We've put a few programs in place to eliminate those wipes from entering the system,” Willner said.

According to the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, wipes that do not properly break down are causing utilities across the country to spend millions of dollars to respond to overflows, clean the products out of their pumps and other equipment, and replace equipment prematurely.

Delmont officials spent more than $100,000 on a grinder pump as well as catch baskets to try and keep the wipes from being snared in important system components.

“(Ark Manor officials) were notified by Salem Township earlier this year, and more recently were notified by me,” said Delmont solicitor Dan Hewitt. “We're finding out through (our engineers) that some of the people at these nursing homes have no idea what's happening when they put these things into the sewer system.”

Recreation board seeking volunteers

The Delmont Recreation Board is seeking volunteers for multiple open board positions.

Board member Stan Cheyne said they are seeking “someone who uses the services to join, but obviously we'll take anyone who wants to be part of it.”

Hewitt said the board sometimes struggles to retain members once their children outgrow the activities it provides.

New baseball field plans on hold

The Delmont Planning Commission is waiting on approvals from the Westmoreland Conservation District before moving ahead with plans for a third baseball field at Shields Farm.

Conservation district officials look at the erosion sediment control and stormwater management plans to ensure the proposed field would not contribute to runoff issues, according to assistant district manager Tony Quadro.

Hewitt said the third field would not require any new structures.

“It's just the field and three additional handicapped parking spaces for (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance,” he said.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862 or pvarine@tribweb.com.

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