BURNSIDE — Burnside Borough Council recently approved replacement of a resident’s malfunctioning grinder pump system.

That decision prompted a discussion about whether the borough is responsible for a number of grinder pumps in locations throughout the borough that are part of the borough’s wastewater collection system.

Councilwoman Shannon Watson noted when council accepted the system design approximately 13 years ago there was confusion about whether the borough or its residents were responsible for those grinders that help the sewage get from their homes into the treatment system.

Watson told council she contacted the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority for clarification. PennVest provided a 30-year grant/loan funding package of $2.9 million for the borough to build its wastewater treatment plant and collection system.

She read from a copy of a letter sent in 2006 by PENNVEST spokesman David Henning which noted, “PENNVEST regulations specifically state that the applicant wastewater system must own and be responsible for the grinder pumps throughout the life of the PennVest loan. In the event homeowners are required to own and maintain the grinder pumps, (Burnside) Borough will have to fund them through other sources of funding.”

Resident Shelby Shick told council she did not believe her system, which recently failed, was installed properly as the contractor who examined it told her moisture had gotten into the control box and corroded the contents, and those conditions contributed to the grinder pump system’s failure.

Watson said she also believed it was a mistake for the council at the time the grinder pump systems were installed to allow each individual homeowner to contract to have the work done.

“All were done differently,” Watson said.

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There was a difference of opinion among some council members as to exactly what constitutes a grinder pump system. Watson said, “In my opinion, the borough is responsible for the grinder pump system including the electrical box on the outside of the house. Those things all came together in the same box.”

Council members agreed and in a split vote, authorized the borough to pay to have the grinder pump system replaced. Councilman Chuck Smith voted no stating he did not believe the electrical box was part of the system and pointed out the PENNVEST letter states “grinder pump” and not grinder pump system.

Watson disagreed.

“The box makes it run. It was all purchased together as a unit. A pumping station would have alleviated all these problems,” she said.