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Mediator appointed to handle pump-station dispute

| Sunday, May 13, 2012, 3:52 a.m.

James Brucker is on a mission.

The manager of the Franklin Township Municipal Sanitary Authority will contact Delmont Council in an attempt to get the borough's governing body together with Salem Township's municipal authority to resolve a long-standing dispute over the Cramer pump station.

The authority's board voted 6-0 Wednesday to have Brucker act as a sort of mediator in the dispute.

The facility, which is located in Salem Township but services portions of Delmont, has long been a sore spot between the two municipalities over its capacity to handle sewage flows.

The Salem authority has maintained that the station is properly sized to handle the service area, but complained of excess inflow and infiltration during wet-weather periods.

Inflow occurs as water runoff enters the sewer system through manhole covers and storm drain tap-ins. Broken pipes or loose joints increase water infiltration.

"Delmont has to recognize there is a problem," Robert Sekora, chairman of the Salem authority, said last night by phone. "I can't understand how they can turn a blind eye to inflow and infiltration going into their sewage system. Accept the fact there is a problem and let's sit down and solve it without attorneys."

Delmont has maintained that the pump station is undersized and lacks adequate capacity for the sewage flows. Council has said a study done by the EADS Group, of North Huntingdon Township, supports its claim.

During yesterday's meeting of the Salem authority, Brucker said downtown Delmont was the problem area. He also indicated the EADS study was done in the spring of 2000 when there was not a lot of wet weather.

"The problem with the flow study is that it was done during a drought," Brucker said. "The EADS report was done at the wrong time of the year."

Salvos have been fired from both sides.

Last month, the Salem authority voted to send a letter to Delmont asking the borough for a plan to rectify excessive infiltration and inflow. The letter also gave Delmont 30 days to schedule smoke and dye testing or face being billed for the work.

There was an item on the agenda yesterday to approve an inspection of the Delmont sewer system. However, no action was taken and the authority voted instead to have Brucker communicate with Delmont.

Delmont has warned that any Salem authority representative in the borough's sewer system would be arrested. A letter containing such a warning was signed by Delmont Council at its meeting Tuesday.

Sekora said a 1983 agreement between the two municipalities permits such an inspection.

"We have an agreement," Sekora said at yesterday's meeting. "What value is an agreement when they say they don't want to abide by it?"

Brucker said there have been problems with the pump station since its creation. "The station was designed improperly from day one," he said.

Brucker, who appeared Tuesday before Delmont Council, said the problem must be solved. Solutions bandied about include the construction of a new pump station at a different location or a retention facility at the current location.

"We're here to help both parties," Brucker said. "I do not have a problem calling Delmont, discussing issues and seeing what can be put on the table. We need to find the most cost-effective solution for the ratepayers."

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