By BRIAN CARSON
LEWISTOWN – As Lewistown Borough grapples with longstanding challenges to its wastewater system, it is entering a new era of infrastructure management.
According to a detailed memorandum released at Wednesday’s meeting, the council is preparing to address infiltration and inflow (I&I) issues in its sewers, some of which date back to the city’s founding in 1795.
The county has been battling I&I issues for years, a battle highlighted by numerous memoranda and meetings with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
Despite all efforts, a complete solution to these problems is still not possible. The county’s collection system, which includes approximately 23 miles of sewer lines and 40 miles of lateral service connections, is under intense scrutiny.
In a bold move, the Borough Council severed ties with its long-standing wastewater treatment plant construction company on September 13. The EADS Group has now been brought on board effective January 1, 2024, signaling a new approach to these ongoing challenges.
Budget constraints have played an important role in the district’s ability to address these issues. In 2022, $250,000 earmarked for slip-lining work on 5th Street was redirected to cover unexpected costs in a PennDOT project.
Despite these setbacks, the district has not shied away from investing in critical equipment, including a $178,000 state-of-the-art camera system purchased in 2022 for sewer inspection and a $435,444.69 Vactor Truck in 2021.
American Rescue Plan Act funding brought a glimmer of hope, but the county’s request for $1,327,000 was met with a counteroffer of a $200,000 loan from the county, which the council rejected.
So far, the district has spent about $840,000 on sewer system repairs and maintenance. The new camera system was used to inspect approximately 12 miles of sewer lines. However, there is still much work to be done. The comprehensive plan includes a comprehensive video inspection of over 51 miles of sewer lines, slip lining repairs, and GIS mapping of all plumbing and stormwater lines.
The council is now poised to focus on eliminating SSOs, managing equivalent dwelling unit (EDU) moratoriums and addressing legal complexities, including a review of a 1982 inter-municipal agreement.
Council also needs to consider adding new EDUs to the system, particularly given the I&I challenges and future housing developments in neighboring Derry Township.
Given these challenges, Lewistown Borough Council’s commitment to a comprehensive corrective action plan policy reflects a community determined to address its infrastructure challenges head-on.
With the incorporation of new expertise, significant financial investment and a detailed action plan, Lewistown decided to begin a new chapter in its history of wastewater management. This commitment addresses current issues and creates the conditions for a more sustainable and efficient future for the district’s infrastructure.
The district’s future path is marked by ambitious goals and deadlines that extend well into the next decade. The to-do list is extensive, ranging from ongoing sewer line inspections to creating a sub-basin management program to correcting structural deficiencies. Coordination with neighboring communities, particularly regarding flow monitoring, remains a critical part of this plan.
With estimated costs still to be determined and task prioritization still being refined, the Council’s next steps are critical.
The community is closely watching how its leaders navigate the complexities of environmental compliance, financial responsibility and infrastructure resilience. The outcome of this comprehensive plan will impact current residents and pave the way for future generations in Lewistown.
More news from the council:
District Manager Kim Zimmerman reported on several important topics, including the Digester DCED ARPA Grant, updates on the Streets-Parking Board and Parking Authority, and openings for Assistant Director of Public Works and Clerk/Secretary.
Council addressed the 39 to 50 percent increase in the sludge removal contract and reviewed the current status of tax delinquencies totaling $130,901.41, with 21 accounts delinquent over $61,000.
The district also examined unfinished and new business areas, including health care, local cost-share grants for station renovation and GIS mapping of the stormwater system, and various requests and agreements related to district operations.
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