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October 8, 2013

Coupon residents face 2-year wait for sewer hookups

ASHVILLE — Engineers working on Ashville Borough’s sewage system upgrades have been coordinating with Gallitzin Township officials, reviewing possible locations to connect township residents.

But Dan Carbaugh, director of wastewater at Keller Engineers, said that even if the project got immediately underway, it would take two years before Coupon residents, who have been suffering with the consequences of nonregulatory wastewater systems, could hop on.

At a Coupon town meeting in June, agents from the Department of Environmental Protection advised the residents that connecting to Ashville’s new sewage system would be their best – and most affordable – solution. Talks regarding sewer service between Ashville and Gallitzin Township dissolved years ago, when Gallitzin Township deferred installation and maintenance of the lines to the borough.

“(Ashville doesn’t) want to go beyond their boundaries collecting bills,” Carbaugh said.

According to borough secretary Mary Ann Riggleman, collecting bills from borough residents is hard enough. At Tuesday’s council meeting, Riggleman said there are currently 25 delinquent sewage accounts, with some past balances reaching around $1,000.

Riggleman said some accounts have been frequent nonpayers since the installation of the plant 30 years ago.

“The rates are going to have to go up because of the delinquencies,” she said. “And we’re moving to the new plant. We can’t with delinquency because we don’t have enough money to operate.”

She said sheriff’s sales are too expensive to coordinate. They can take delinquent accounts before the magistrate, but that doesn’t mean the bill will be paid.

Riggleman said letters will be sent out to all delinquent sewage accounts within the week.

Meanwhile, Carbaugh said Keller Engineers will be waiting to determine the best possible routes for sewer piping before establishing an agreement for service funding between the two municipalities.

Justin Dennis covers Ashville Borough for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at Dennis.

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