The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

December 7, 2012

Portage preparing for sewer upgrades

Kathy Mellott
kmellott@tribdem.com

PORTAGE — With a major water project nearly completed, Portage area officials are ready to embark on improvements to the sanitary sewer system.

Preliminary design is under way for expansion of the multi-municipal system to the Martindale area of Portage Township and replacement of collection lines through a section of Portage Borough.

An extension to Martindale, southeast of the borough along Route 164, will eliminate a significant problem with dozens of malfunctioning on-lot and wildcat systems.

“It’s going to correct some deplorable conditions,” township Supervisor Richard Olshavsky said of the work, which is planned to extend to 150 homes in Martindale.

On the borough’s end, plans are in the works to replace a portion of the main transmission line in an area closest to the sewer plant near the Little Conemaugh River, borough manager Bob Koban said.

“The area is in the 3rd Ward, the bottom end, down by the football stadium,” Koban said.

Cost of the expansion and line upgrade is estimated at $6 million. The authority is to seek grants or loans through the Pennsylvania Infrastructure and Investment Authority or the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utility Service.

“It’s serving a low-income area and it’s the type of project that RUS likes to fund,” Olshavsky said.

Municipal sewer service is badly needed in the Martindale area because of its proximity to wells belonging to the Portage Water Authority, Supervisor Elwood Selapack said.

“There is probably only two places up there that have sand mounds. The rest are on-lot or wildcat,” Selapack said. “The water authority has a well up there. They want to protect that.”

Koban said the work in the borough will help reduce the amount of storm water entering sewage lines and reaching the wastewater treatment plant.

“There is a ton of infiltration in that neck of the woods,” Koban said. “That area also is a bottleneck. Everything goes in that direction.”

Portage Township supervisors have agreed to lead the way by providing up-front money needed to get preliminary design work started by Steve Sewalk, an engineer with The EADS Group, an engineering, architecture and design services firm.

The township’s 2013 budget includes $75,000 needed to get the design work started. That money will be paid back to the township when project funding is in place, Selapack said.

The extension through the township will begin at Rd’s Fiddlers Green Tavern on Route 164 and continue about three miles south on that route to the Martindale area.

The water line will follow survey work for the nearly finished $5 million upgrade and expansion of the water distribution system and tank project in the township, Olshavsky said.

The same easements used for the water line likely will serve for the sewer extension, he said.

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