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CMA OKs budget with no rate increase
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
By Jeff Corcino Staff Writer
The Clearfield Municipal Authority approved its 2013 budget with no rate increases at its meeting yesterday.
The budget has $2,430,000 in revenues and $2,410,010 in expenses giving the authority a $19,990 profit for the year.
Board member William McCartney asked if the CMA should begin raising rates in anticipation of upcoming building projects. The CMA is currently in the planning and design stages of a $33 million construction project to upgrade the wastewater treatment plant and interceptors.
The CMA is constructing the plant to meet the new Chesapeake Bay nutrient discharge regulations and handle excessive storm water flows in the system.
However, the CMA manager said he does not believe a rate increase is necessary yet and said they did not have any major surprises last year other than an $18,000 fine. The CMA incurred the fine from the state Department of Environmental Protection after an illegal discharge from Bionol Clearfield caused the plant to go out of compliance for three days.
The violation occurred when Bionol Clearfield was cleaning the plant and discharged more into the system at one time than allowed, Williams said.
The CMA attempted to collect the fine from Bionol Clearfield but was unsuccessful because the company went into bankruptcy, Williams said.
The ethanol plant has since been purchased by Pennsylvania Grain Processing, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Zeeland Farms of Michigan.
Williams also said the DEP fines for excess storm water in the system probably will not start until next year.
Clearfield's sanitary sewer system continues to receive excessive amounts storm water during rain events causing the system to overload and forces the CMA to discharge raw sewage into the river.
To illustrate the extent of the problem, CMA engineer Jim Balliet of Gwin, Dobson & Foreman Inc. of Altoona said normal dry weather flow in the system is about 2 million gallons per day last year, but during rain events of one inch, flows increased to about 11 million gallons per day. And during Hurricane Sandy flows were up to 15 million gallons per day.
The DEP is giving Clearfield Borough and Lawrence Township until the end of February to complete its smoke testing sanitary system and submit their findings. Soon afterwards the DEP will likely declare Clearfield's system as a SSO system and fine the CMA for every discharge into the river, Balliet said.
He said the fines would likely be in the $200,000 to $300,000 a year.
He said it is unlikely the borough or the township will be able to correct their systems in time to avoid the fines. He said much of the problem is likely not from faulty sewer lines but from illegal connections such as downspouts, French drains, floor drains etc. into the system by residents.
For years, residents connected their storm water collection systems directly to the sanitary sewer system and were never removed, Balliet said.
And although the borough and the township have implemented new ordinances and enforcement programs to get the illegal connections removed, he said it would likely take years to make a significant impact.
The new sewer plant would be able to handle the excess flows but it will be at least three years before it is complete.
CMA board member Chris Rowles said perhaps the borough and the township should implement a rule similar to what Altoona has requiring all storm water spouts to discharge onto the surface to make inspections easier.
Rowles also criticized the decision of the township to have traps installed sewer laterals because it makes it difficult to find illegal connections using smoke testing and now every home has to be inspected individually to find illegal connections.
In other business:
• Balliet said DEP officials told him it would be approving the CMA's Act 537 plan and said they should be getting the approval letter within the week.
Getting the Act 537 plan approved is the first hurdle in the permitting process for the CMA's new wastewater treatment plant. The CMA is now awaiting DEP's technical review of the Part II Water Quality Management Permit for the construction of the new plant.
If the CMA gets the Part II permit by Feb. 20, the CMA plans to apply to the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority for funding. If the CMA doesn't get the permit in time, they will have to wait until May to apply to PENNVEST for funding.
• Balliet said they are also still trying to "fast-track" the CMA's $7 million water system improvement project. The CMA is fast tracking the project to get it done as soon as possible due to a problematic water line.
The water system upgrades include replacing about two miles of main waterlines, constructing new water tanks in Hillsdale, and Wolf Run and replacing the pump station at Wolf Run.
The CMA is planning to finance this project through PENNVEST as well and Balliet was asked if it would hurt the CMA's chances for funding by asking for funding for two projects.
Balliet said he isn't sure but said PENNVEST has two separate funds, one for sewer projects and one for water projects so the CMA could get funding for both projects.
• the CMA held its reorganizational meeting and re-elected Russell Triponey as chairman, William McCartney as vice-chair, Greg Dixon as secretary, Charles Ross as treasurer and Chris Stott as assistant secretary/treasurer. John Ryan was reelected solicitor, Johnston Nelson & Shimmel was named accountant/auditor and CNB Bank was named as depositor.
Assistant Manager Kevin Shifter was appointed as Right-to-Know officer.
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