Sewage plan still possible by year’s end between Sewickley and Leetsdale, officials say

November 14, 2018

Sewickley officials need more information, including a cost analysis from Leetsdale’s engineer, before determining if a joint wastewater treatment plan is feasible.

Financial data provided by Sewickley’s engineering firm, Lennon, Smith, Souleret Engineering, to Leetsdale Engineer Dan Slagle includes projections for the costs Sewickley would face even if officials decide to ship the borough’s wastewater to Leetsdale for treatment, Slagle said.

Those costs include meeting a state requirement to televise and evaluate 25 percent of the Sewickley sewage system each year, Slagle said.

Lennon, Smith, Souleret also completed an initial rate analysis, which council discussed in an Oct. 9 meeting. The analysis, according to Sewickley council President Jeff Neff, compared the cost of conveying sewage to Leetsdale to the cost of keeping wastewater treatment in Sewickley.

Sewickley officials confirmed that the analysis factored in the cost of construction and demolition projects.

However, some of these projects may not be necessary. Councilman Todd Renner said during the meeting that there may be no need to demolish Sewickley’s existing wastewater treatment plant.

In an email, Renner stated that any rate or cost analysis is premature until council receives a similar analysis from Leetsdale’s engineer, and perhaps an independent engineer, should they deem this approach warranted.

Since July, when council authorized an initial analysis, multiple elected officials from Sewickley have toured Leetsdale’s eight-year-old wastewater treatment plant.

Council decided to explore the option of shipping waste to Leetsdale for multiple reasons, including the long-term cost of maintaining its own wastewater plant.

In September, Renner said that $5 million in repairs are needed to keep Sewickley’s plant operating into the future. He also mentioned that the odor “remains horrific.”

According to Slagle, representatives from both municipalities plan to meet on Oct. 24. He said a joint wastewater decision is still possible by the end of the year, but stressed that more meetings on the subject will likely need to occur.

In addition to financial costs, flow data from Sewickley, along with other factors, could impact a future decision.

A flow meter was installed at Sewickley’s plant on Oct. 4, Slagle said.

Neff stated in a council meeting that the data it provides “will give Leetsdale’s engineer a better opportunity to give us a firm number of what they need to do and whether they would need to do an expansion or not.”

Regulatory agencies like the state Department of Environmental Protection would also play a role in a joint wastewater decision. An Act 537 plan, which details costs, plant capacity, rates for residents and other factors, would likely be needed, according to Slagle.

“The regulatory agency obviously doesn’t want to see money misspent either, so this would make sure there’s a plan in place and that everybody signs off on it,” Slagle said.

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