The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


April 9, 2014

Westmont planning for sewer project

JOHNSTOWN — Westmont Borough has taken initial steps for a $10 million to $15 million sewer project in the borough next year.

Although not yet requiring pressure testing, engineers left the door open for the expensive, controversial approach if main line replacements don’t eliminate enough stormwater infiltration.

“We had them prepare an el cheapo, a moderate and an over-the-top (plan),” Borough Council President Don C. Hall II said at Tuesday’s meeting. “This is the moderate.”

“This will reduce infiltration in the main lines,” said Bryant J. Greene of H.F. Lenz Co., adding that individual homeowners’ laterals still could be contributing to overloads that the borough and Johnstown Redevelopment Authority are under orders to eliminate from the Dornick Point sewage treatment plant.

The redevelopment authority will measure success by recording how much sewage comes into the borough and how much flows out after rainstorms by checking flow meters installed on main lines, Greene said.

Borough crews working with Lenz already have identified and either corrected or ordered corrections on numerous leaks identified through smoke testing, Greene said. French drains and downspouts with illegal connections were located by sending smoke into the sewer lines and seeing where it escaped.

“There has been progress throughout the borough through repairs,” Greene said.

But smoke testing can miss some leaks, Greene said. If there are two breaks in the same lateral, for instance, the smoke may show only one.

“The smoke will take the path of least resistance,” Greene said. “It will find a break in the lateral, but if there is a small break just up from that, you are not going to catch it.”

Pressure testing can be used to locate additional leaks, he said.

Lenz presented two proposals for replacement of the entire 120,000 feet of sanitary sewer lines. The lowest estimate of $10,484,254 would not include any lateral work. For an estimated $15,860,254, the borough could also install new laterals from sewer mains to the property line.

“It would cost $5 million more to help the residents avoid some expense,” Councilman Lee Williamson said.

Council voted unanimously to authorize Lenz to move forward with design and to prepare an application for Pennsylvania Infrastructure and Investment Authority loans and grants to fund the work.

“We are moving forward,” Hall said. “We did recommend that we go this extra mile to help the property owners. It will identify problems a lot easier.”

The borough has not committed any construction money yet, but that step is inevitable, he said.

“We are going to have to do something,” Hall said. “We don’t have any wiggle room.”

Once the project is done, the borough can measure results and decide if homeowners will have to do more work, Greene said.

In other matters, council named 1st Team Advertising to create a new website for the borough. The cost is $2,100, with the first installment of $1,050 approved Tuesday.

A policy was approved requiring all borough employees to authorize the borough to access driving license records. The policy will reduce workmen’s compensation insurance by $4,000.

Randy Griffith covers Westmont for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at

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