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Charleroi seeking grant money for sewer project

| Thursday, Aug. 9, 2001

Charleroi Borough Council is getting serious about finding a solution to flooding and overflow problems in its sewer and storm water system.

On Wednesday, Emily Gaspich, a representative of McDonald Associates Engineering of Charleroi, presented council with preliminary designs for an estimated $5.3 million renovation project that would allow the current system to handle storm water and sewage separately.

Gaspich told council her firm has identified numerous problems with the system, which has been in place for about 100 years.

She said the system overflows on occasion because it is not built to handle large amounts of rainfall. Occasionally, rainwater forces sewage out onto the ground, she said.

The entire system has weakened with time, and Gaspich suggested revamping the system as a whole instead of patching up small problems one at a time.

The existing system is overwhelmed with pressure at times that has blown manhole covers out of their fittings, Gaspich said.

As for renovations, Gaspich said 464 inlets currently bring storm water into the system, and those areas would be repaired and new inlets added. New manholes would also be installed and residents would have to remove and seal downspout channels connected to their house.

Storm water would also be routed to the nearest water sources through Third, Eighth and 11th streets, Gaspich said.

Water would also be directed to Maple Creek, she added.

Gaspich identified seven key areas where flooding has most often occurred in Charleroi, one of them being between 10th and 11th streets on McKean Avenue.Charleroi resident Joanna Blair lives in that area and has served on a committee pushing for the separation of the lines. She said she approached council a year ago when her basement was overrun by sewage.

Blair returned this year to lobby for the board's approval in finding federal or state funding for the project.

According to Blair, low interest loans are currently available on the state level, but the opportunity to attain a 30-year loan may dwindle if the board procrastinates. Blair also suggested council hold two public meetings, one during daylight hours and another at night, to inform the public about the project.

Council member Frank Frascatore also sits on the project committee, and he agreed that the current system has been a problem, with major line breaks in the past four years. According to Frascatore, the borough has paid for about $220,000 in line repairs because the system is overloaded.

Council President Walter J. Hopkins said the system also pushes sewage into the river when too much rainwater falls.

According to Hopkins, the Environmental Protection Agency is taking steps to mandate the separation of all united systems. He said that if council does not take advantage of funding opportunities now, it might miss out, as the demand for grant money figures to grow once the EPA makes it mandatory that systems be separated.

Council then passed a motion to seek funding for the project.

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