Engineering, Other Issues Discussed

UPDATE Bradford Sanitary Authority will receive a PENNVEST $15,598,357 loan and a $3,146,643 grant to upgrade and expand its sewage treatment plant in order to eliminate wet weather overloading of the plant and discharges of partially treated sewage into Tunungwant Creek.

WESB/WBRR News Director

The Bradford Sanitary Authority and Bradford City Council can agree on one thing: Whatever is going to be done about upgrading the wastewater treatment plant has to be done as soon as possible.

The two groups held a work session Tuesday to discuss plans for the plant. Bradford Township supervisor Gayle Bauer and Foster Township supervisor John Sullivan also attended.

At issue is the best way to upgrade the plant, at the lowest cost. Another issue is which engineering firm would be best for the job. Buchart Horn first brought up the new BioMag technology for the plant, which would save money. Gannett Fleming has been the Sanitary Authority’s engineer for years. Buchart Horn has worked on a BioMag system before, while Gannett Fleming has not. But Jack Rae, a Bradford native and engineer with Gannett Fleming, says his company has worked with other cutting-edge technologies and he believes they would have no problem with BioMag. Sanitary Authority members seem adamant in their support of Gannett Fleming, while some council members seem to believe going with Buchart Horn would be the best bet.

Mayor Tom Riel wanted to clear up a rumor that’s been spreading about his support of Buchart Horn. He said he’s heard people saying he’s supporting them because he’s been offered a job with the company.

“That’s total and complete bull----,” Riel said. “Anybody that’s heard that story has heard it from the lips of a liar.”

He said nothing could be further from the truth and the story is despicable.

Sanitary Authority Chairman Dan Hartle said he was asked about the rumor by a member of the media (who was not at Tuesday’s work session), and said he was surprised to hear that because there was nothing to it to his knowledge.

At any rate, Councilman Fred Proper said a decision needs to be made soon.

“We need to clear up any kind of engineering concerns we have rather quickly,” he said. “Everyone needs to feel confident with the engineers going into this project.”

Councilman Jim Evans added, “We don’t have money to play with … or much time either. We have to know that what we’re going to do is going to work.”

“This can’t be an experiment. … We can’t be playing around with this. It has to be a sure thing,” Evans said.

Besides engineering, the other issues are the headworks, plant capacity expansion and inflow & infiltration. Hartle said the best way to deal with all the issues would be to form a regional authority with the municipalities served by the system.

Riel agreed, but said while the concept is good the municipalities “need to come up with a formula that’s fair” for everyone.

Time is not their side to work out all the issues, however. The deadline to be in compliance with the Act 537 Plan is December 31, 2013.

Hartle said DEP would possibly grant them an extension for work on the plant if they go with the BioMag option. But, he said, if they ask DEP for an extension to continue working on I&I removal “they’re going to laugh. We’ve been saying that since 1998.”

Hartle added that DEP has “no desire to shove something down our throats that’s going to cost us more money than necessary.”

The Sanitary Authority expects to learn Wednesday if they will get a PENNVEST loan, and how much it will be.

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