SHENANGO VALLEY Improvement plan would elevate rise in sewer rates

The treatment plant already is operating above its rating, an engineer says.
SHARON, Pa. -- Sewer rates could be doubling in the four Shenango Valley municipalities tied to the Sharon sewage treatment plant.
Sharon, under a mandate from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to eliminate sewage overflows and expand treatment capacity at the plant, unveiled a $21.8 million proposal to do that Tuesday. However, because the Upper Shenango Valley Water Pollution Control Authority also sends sewage to the plant, it will be expected to pick up a large chunk of the cost.
The authority pipes sewage from all of Sharpsville and parts of Hermitage and South Pymatuning Township to the Sharon plant.
Two-phase project
The improvement plan, prepared by the Pittsburgh engineering firm of Gannett Fleming Inc., is divided into two phases.
The first would be Sharon's cost alone. That's a $2 million package to eliminate untreated sewage overflows from the city's Connelly Boulevard siphon chamber into the Shenango River. The second will require the financial participation of the Shenango authority: a $19.8 million project to expand Sharon's plant from its current rating of 4.5 million gallons per day to 8.66 million gallons per day.
Based on current and anticipated needs through 2023, that's the size of plant Sharon and the authority will need, according to Gannett Fleming. Sharon is the biggest user of the plant and would be expected to pick up 65.6 percent of the cost; the authority would cover 34.4 percent.
Dan Goncz of Gannett Fleming said the plant is already experiencing peak flows of 7.8 million gallons per day at times, far above its permit allocation from the DEP.
Cost to users
Fred Hoffman, Sharon City Council president, said the project would likely double current city sewer bills, which now average about $21 a month.
Joseph Augustine, Hermitage city commissioner and a member of the authority, said residents in Hermitage tied into the authority's lines would see their bills increase from $28 to about $53 a month.
Sharpsville officials said monthly rates there would rise from $25 to about $39; South Pymatuning officials said they would expect bills to double from about $20 to $40 a month.
The construction would occur in 2005 and 2006.

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