Lawrence looks to cut sewer infiltration|
Thursday, July 19, 2012
By Jeff Corcino Staff Writer
The Lawrence Township supervisors are looking to cut down on storm water inflows and infiltration into its sewer system by cracking down on property owners who have downspouts, sump pumps, etc. connected to the sewer system.
At its meeting Tuesday night, the Lawrence Township Board of Supervisors directed its solicitor, Naddeo and Lewis of Clearfield to draft an ordinance to fine property owners that have such devises connected to the sewer system.
The township along with Clearfield Borough and the Clearfield Municipal Authority are under a mandate from the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Environmental Protection to remove storm water from its sewer lines because the excess storm water is overloading the sanitary sewer system causing raw sewage to be discharged into the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.
Supervisor Glenn Johnston, chairman said the township, borough and CMA have been monitoring flows in the sanitary sewer system and it is apparent that the township's lines have substantially higher flows during rain events than in dry events, which shows that the township is still receiving a substantial amount of storm water into its system.
Johnston said although the township does have some bad lines it needs to replace, he said they believe most of the storm water that is entering the sanitary system is from residents who have downspouts, sump pumps, French drains, etc. connected to the system.
Johnston said an average family home with such a device connected to the sanitary sewer system quadruples the its flows into the sanitary system
He said municipalities across the country are spending millions to remove storm water from its sanitary sewer systems and the township either has to remove the storm water from the sanitary sewer system or spend millions itself on upgrading the sanitary sewer system so it can handle the extra flows.
Johnston said the supervisors don't believe it would be fair for all township residents to have to pay more because a few property owners have storm water systems connected to the sanitary sewer system so they are directing the solicitor to draw up an ordinance to fine violators.
Supervisor Ed Brown said the fines should be steep enough for the enforcement program pays for itself and that property owners don't ignore it and just pay the fine instead of fixing the problem.
Johnston said they are looking to set it up where if the township discovers a problem, they will give the property owner some time to correct the problem and if they do the fine would be substantially reduced.
To conduct the enforcement, Johnston said the township is looking into the cost of either hiring an outside engineering firm or the township could hire additional employees and conduct the enforcement themselves.
Brown said after the meeting he would rather see a professional engineering firm do the enforcement rather than have the township do it themselves.
Several years ago when the township completed phase 1 of the sewer project, the township hired Hess & Fisher Engineers of Clearfield to conduct an inspection program and Supervisor William Lawhead said they will be using that data as a starting point to make sure none of the violators found during that inspection program haven't reconnected their storm water systems to the sanitary system.
In other business, the supervisors voted to:
• approve the amendments to the uniformed and non-uniform collective bargaining agreements regarding health insurance coverage. Both the police union and the road crew union have agreed to changes in health insurance coverage that would save the township about $60,000.
• approve the conditional use requests for the Graystone Senior Living dwelling and for the Graystone Court Villas to be 75-feet high.
The township also set the conditional use hearing for the new Holiday Inn Express for Aug. 7 at 6:55 p.m.
• hire Howard Hunt as a member of the recycling crew.
• the supervisors tabled the bids for the Weaverhurst paving and storm water project, various paving projects in the township and the Forest Drive project for review by the township's engineers.
• purchase $25,000 in dust control materials through the state's COSTARS program. This would purchase enough material to provide dust control on about five miles of dirt and gravel roads. Lawhead said. The township will be putting the dust control material down in front of residences, he said.
• approve the agreement with Lock Haven University for university students to participate in an internship program with the police department conditional on language being included in the agreement freeing the township of any liability.
• advertise for the open alternate position on the Zoning Hearing Board.
• approve the conditional use request by Donald and Nancy Smeal to place a produce store in the former Plymptonville school. The store will also sell flea market type of items as well, Lawhead said.