A proposed change in Johnstown’s sewer pressure testing mandate would not completely eliminate the controversial requirement.
Any residential or business property would have to pass a pressure test before it can be sold, city solicitor David P. Andrews said.
“Transfers would still be subject to it,” Andrews said, cautioning that the new ordinance initially approved last week must pass a second vote before becoming law.
Pressure testing to identify leaks and improper connections to the sanitary sewers are required under a 2012 ordinance as part of an overall sewer reconstruction. City engineers with The EADS Group consider the tests the most reliable way of detecting inflow and infiltration of stormwater that cause raw sewage to be discharged into local streams during heavy rains. In 2010, Johnstown entered into a consent agreement with the state Department of Environmental Protection to eliminate all of the overflows.
Last week, council gave preliminary approval to an ordinance suspending the requirement for two years. After July 1, 2016, the tests would be made mandatory again only if the city is still out of compliance with state requirements.
The change followed a petition drive led by former council member Jack Williams and Roxbury resident Charlene Stanton. If council rejects it, the issue could be included as a referendum on the 2015 primary ballot.
While Williams said he remains focused on getting the latest ordinance approved at next month’s City Council meeting, he is not ready to give up on the mandated pressure tests for real estate transfers.
“If this is approved, I’m going to start another petition to stop that (requirement),” Williams vowed. He believes major repairs are not required for most homes to eliminate inflow and infiltration.
“It is not fair,” Williams said. “All these people went through the expense and they probably wouldn’t have had to.”
Randy Griffith is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/photogriffer57.