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Ross is antsy over Jacks Run upkeep

| Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2003

Repairs designed to reduce sewage overflow into the Ohio River could hit a snag if municipal officials can't come to an agreement over who will foot the bill for future work.

Ross commissioners say they are leery about paying maintenance on the Jacks Run sewer project because most of the upgrades would be in Pittsburgh.

The Allegheny County Sanitary Authority, or Alcosan, which controls part of the storm and sewer lines to be overhauled, proposed paying 40 percent of the future maintenance costs on the project. The remainder would be divided evenly among the three municipalities through which the project runs: Pittsburgh, Ross and Bellevue. No cost estimates are available.

Ross Commissioner Dan DeMarco said the township doesn't want to pay for maintenance of lines it doesn't own.

"We also want to explore what is meant by maintenance," DeMarco said.

Jacks Run is a stream that runs from Ross to the Ohio River through the North Side.

To prevent raw sewage from entering the rivers, Alcosan and local municipalities will spend $50 million over the next 20 years to detach Jacks Run and eight other streams from sewer systems.

Alcosan spokeswoman Nancy Barylak said Jacks Run was targeted first for repair because it is one of the region's most flood-prone creeks.

The project is slated to take two years and should start next year, Barylak said. However, if the agreements hit a snag, the project could be delayed, Barylak said.

An initial design for the project is nearing completion, she said.

Barylak estimated that 50 percent to 60 percent of the storm water to be diverted by the project originates in Ross.

She said that because the lines would be new, maintenance costs would not be high.

The final cost is expected to run several million dollars, Barylak said. Part of that cost will be offset by federal and state grants.

John Schombert, executive director of the 3 Rivers Wet Weather Demonstration Program, said his organization, which helps municipalities comply with federal clean water mandates, offered a $2.2 million grant to Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority for the project.

Before the grant goes through, however, an agreement on maintenance costs must be reached.

The Pittsburgh authority is waiting to hear what Ross officials think of the Alcosan proposal, said Gregory Tutsock, the Pittsburgh authority's executive director.

Bellevue Manager David M. Golebiewski said Bellevue officials are willing to go along with the agreement as it stands.

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