The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

December 17, 2013

Redevelopment authority denies mandating sewer pressure tests

JOHNSTOWN — Sewer connection pressure testing is not mandated by the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority, and its board members say they are tired of taking the blame.

The authority is under state mandate to reduce stormwater inflows overloading its Dornick Point sewage treatment plant or expand the plant to treat the additional flows.

That mandate includes 30 municipalities that own the sewage collection systems feeding the plant, Monsignor Raymond Balta, authority board chairman, explained at Tuesday’s meeting.

“The (Department of Environmental Protection) is taking the position that the infiltration has to be eliminated,” Balta said. “They don’t care how you do it.”

The redevelopment authority has taken the same position with the municipalities, Balta said.

Many communities are requiring pressure testing, which can create thousands in repairs for those whose systems fail.

“It is not actually mandated by us,” Balta said.

Authority member Brian Vuletich said elected municipal officials often mention the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority when enacting pressure test requirements.

“If you don’t want to be responsible for the decision, blame it on JRA,” Balta said.

Engineering companies overseeing the massive sewage upgrade often say pressure testing is the only sure way to solve the infiltration problems. Virtually all communities that first attempted to identify infiltration points with smoke and dye tests are now going back through the same neighborhoods and requiring pressure tests, they say.

Residents in boroughs and townships that don’t address the problem may be paying for their leaders’ inaction, Balta warned.

“We can treat (normal) flows with very little difficulty,” Balta said. “If we are going to have to make alterations or expansions to the plant for four or five municipalities which choose not to address the problem, they will bear that responsibility.”

Meters have been placed to measure sewage flows at many locations throughout the system. They can identify which municipalities are contributing to the overloads, Balta said.

If those overloads are not addressed, and the authority has to spend millions to expand its treatment plant, customers in those municipalities will see their sewer bills raised exponentially to cover the cost, authority solicitor William G. Barbin said.

“We are responsible in the end for everything that comes down the pipe,” Barbin said. “If these communities don’t comply, these customers are going to be hit with huge sewage bills.”

It would not be fair to raise everyone’s sewage bills because municipalities such as Brownstown, Ferndale and Dale boroughs have invested millions in system upgrades and required homeowners to complete the often-expensive residential fixes, Balta said.

Randy Griffith covers Johnstown Redevelopment Authority for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/photo griffer57.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • foust_25 Teen shot in Oakhurst

    A 16-year-old New Jersey boy was taken to Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center on Thursday after being shot three times in the Oakhurst section of Johnstown.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Audit: City overspent by $700G in 2013

    Legacy costs contributed significantly to the city of Johnstown coming up $689,000 short in its core services funding during 2013.

    July 24, 2014

  • Kuzma, jonathan Guilty plea in hammer death

    The Johnstown man who authorities said killed his father with a hammer last year pleaded guilty Wednesday to criminal homicide, authorities said.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • quecreek rescue Events to mark anniversary of Quecreek rescue

    When word spread that nine Quecreek miners were trapped underground in July 2002, Bill Arnold’s dairy farm quickly became the rescue effort’s ground zero.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man charged with running down fire official at accident scene

    A Mineral Point man has been charged with running down a fire police official at Monday’s fatal crash scene on William Avenue in Jackson Township.

    July 25, 2014

  • Tribune Treasure!

    July 25, 2014

  • Huger, Stephen Accused Hornerstown shooter will stand trial

    A Johnstown man will stand trial in connection with a July 12 shooting in the Hornerstown section of the city.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Board names Zahorchak’s successor

    The Greater Johnstown school board at a special meeting Thursday named a superintendent to replace the retiring superintendent, rehired its last business manager and approved other administrative appointments.

    July 24, 2014

  • Pasquerilla, Mark Pasquerilla recognized as arts patron

    First lady Susan Corbett announced Thursday from the Jimmy Stewart Museum in Indiana, Pa., that Mark Pasquerilla of Johnstown has earned the Patron Award from the 2014 Governor’s Awards for the Arts.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ebensburg gets ready to party

    Party down with a shutdown.
    Downtown Shutdown, a street party featuring music and food, will be held from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday in downtown Ebensburg.

    July 24, 2014

Poll

What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

     View Results
House Ads