If improvements are needed, city faces rise in sewer rates

Sharon has until next summer to come up with a plan to fix sanitary sewer problems.
SHARON, Pa. -- City residents could see their annual sewer rates double or triple if the city is forced to make major improvements at its treatment plant.
Sharon is under pressure from the state Department of Environmental Protection to eliminate surface water infiltration into its sanitary sewer lines and to eliminate overflows from the treatment plant into the Shenango River during periods of wet weather.
The city proposed to control the problem by finding and eliminating surface water infiltration points. Sharon officials said Thursday that the state won't accept that offer, however.
The state is pushing the city to make a major expansion at its treatment plant, said Fred Hoffman, city council president, as council voted to approve a consent order that promises to come up with a new plan by July 31, 2003, for dealing with the sewer woes.
Possible costs
That plan will have to include improvements at the plant, which could cost as much as $25 million, Hoffman said, adding that sewer rates would have to double or triple to pay for the work.
The sewer fee is based on water consumption and most Sharon residents use between 3,334 and 10,000 gallons of water bimonthly, paying a flat $202 a year in sewer fees.
Hoffman said the state is forcing Sharon to devise its new corrective action plan in conjunction with the Upper Shenango Valley Water Pollution Control Authority, which collects sewage from Sharpsville and parts of Hermitage and South Pymatuning Township and sends it to the Sharon plant for treatment.
The authority will likely have to share in the cost of expanding Sharon's plant, Hoffman said.

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