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Delmont: We're not 'bad guys' in pump-station dispute

| Sunday, May 13, 2012, 4:19 a.m.

Delmont Council members feel they have been portrayed as the "bad guys" in the continuing dispute with the Salem Township Municipal Authority concerning the Cramer pump station.

With that in mind, council held a special meeting Monday night to tell its side of the story.

"We have had it," said Councilwoman Cher Anderson. "We want to be heard."

The pump station has been a bone of contention between Delmont and the township authority. The facility is located in the township but services portions of Delmont.

At the heart of the debate has been the pump station's ability to handle sewage flows.

The authority has insisted the station is properly sized to handle the service area but feels inflow and infiltration from Delmont is excessive during wet weather periods.

Inflow takes place as water runoff enters the sewer system through manhole covers and storm drain tap-ins. Infiltration is a result of water entering through broken pipes or loose joints.

Delmont officials deny the authority's claim and believe the problem is that the pump station is undersized and lacks adequate capacity for the sewage flows. Delmont Council reiterated its claim last night.

Jeffrey Hartung, operation manager for the EADS Group, said that reports he's seen indicate that the inflow coming from Delmont has fallen in the acceptable levels. Hartung added that wet-weather flow-monitoring tests performed by Drnach Engineering did not refute the EADS analysis.

The state Department of Environmental Protection has requested the two municipalities enter into a consent order, or else the state would intervene.

Hartung said Delmont has submitted two remediation plans to DEP. One called for the construction of a new station at a different location that would cost about $546,500. Another plan — which Hartung said the borough currently has on the table — calls for a retention facility at the site. Such a facility would allow for additional flow to be stored until it can be handled by the sewer system.

"They have not taken any position on the issue," Hartung said of the township authority.

Delmont would have to pick up the tab for about 80 percent of any such project, with Salem Township responsible for the rest.

At its Nov. 13 meeting, the township authority gave Delmont 30 days to schedule smoke and dye testing or face being billed for the work.

Delmont Solicitor Dan Hewitt said the borough's sewer system is owned by the borough and any testing done without authorization is prohibited. "Our police force will be watching," Hewitt said.

A letter was sent to Delmont referring to a flow chart of a 1990 test that showed a rate of 637,000 gallons a day, which exceeds the normal flow rate.

Hartung said the test did show an excessive flow rate, but claimed steps were taken in 1991, 1992 and 1997 to rectify the problems. Illegal taps were fixed, as were leaky manholes, Hartung said.

An open invitation was extended for last night's meeting to several parties from Salem Township, including township authority members and the township supervisors. None attended.

Authority Chairman Robert Sekora sent a letter to Delmont Council saying that no members of the authority would be able to attend last night. He also stated he felt the gathering would be a joint meeting of the two governing bodies and would have to be advertised by both or would violate the state's Sunshine Law.

Hewitt said that would not be the case since Sekora and township authority members were invited to attend. Hewitt said that would not make the meeting a "joint meeting."

Sekora maintains the authority position that the fault lies with Delmont. "They really need to sit down and look at the problem," Sekora said by phone last night. "The results we gave them this year say the problem is still downtown Delmont."

According to council members and Hewitt, Sekora attended a meeting in December 2001, introduced himself and left.

"We've invited them," said Councilman Bob Wolff. "They continue to never come here. They may be able to cloud the issues in Salem, but we're not going to let them cloud the issues here."

Many Delmont Council members said they just want to rectify the situation.

"Something has to be done, with engineers, solicitors and the public in attendance" said council President Sarah Lamont. "The longer the wait, the more expensive it becomes."

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