MAHONING TOWNSHIP Officials plan for $11M sewer-system project

HILLSVILLE, Pa. -- An $11 million sewer-system project planned for Mahoning Township is tentatively set to begin construction in 2006 and be completed by 2008.
Residents would pay a $2,000 tap-in fee and $55 to $60 in monthly sewage fees.
These figures were presented Monday by Greg DelPrincipe, civil engineer for RAR Engineering Group, New Castle, when Mahoning Township supervisors met in a special session.
Supervisors Poncho Exposito and Gary Pezzuolo voted to submit the project plan to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for approval. Supervisor Vito Yeropoli was unable to attend the meeting.
Homes included
DelPrincipe said the initial project would include 529 homes: in the U.S. Route 224 area, Hillsville, Butch Estates, Hilltop and Edinburg south of Route 224. Later, 41 additional homes would be added in North Edinburg, including part of Pa. Route 551 and the Skyhill area.
Township officials said they hope to obtain grants and loans for the project.
The township has a septic tank malfunction rate of 83 percent, high enough to give it a priority ranking with funding agencies. Funding will be sought from PennVest, a state agency, which could provide a $1 million grant and a 30-year loan at 1 percent, and from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utility Service, which could provide a 45 percent grant and a 40-year loan at 4.5 percent.
DelPrincipe said that though he and the supervisors have looked into several possibilities for waste treatment, the cheapest option appears to be for the township to build its own plant. He said this also gives the township the option for future development.
Higher cost
He said the area's hilly nature as well as numerous limestone and clay deposits will make sewer construction more expensive here than in other areas. He added that it may be impossible to provide sewer lines to some basements because of these factors, adding that about 90 homes will need pumps that will grind the sewage and push it to the main line.
Once the line is built, hookup will be made mandatory by an ordinance the township will pass later. Low- and moderate-income residents will be able to apply for grants and loans to pay their connection costs.
Exposito said the township has no choice but to build the sewer system because of DEP mandates. He said construction could be avoided only if the township passed an ordinance requiring residents to pump their septic systems monthly -- an alternative that would cost far more than sewer installation.
Pezzuolo agreed, adding, "In the Hilltop area, there's now sewage in everyone's ditch."
DelPrincipe said the problem also is slowing down home sales because when homes are sold, the septic tanks must be inspected. If they don't pass, the report must go to DEP.
The township now must wait to see if DEP gives final approval to the sewer plan before proceeding with design and financing.

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