Regulators outline path forward for joint wastewater plan

Monday, February 11, 2019 | 6:03 AM

A joint wastewater treatment plan between Sewickley and Leetsdale has received initial support from state environmental regulators.

In mid-2018, officials from both municipalities began discussing a plan to ship wastewater from Sewickley to Leetsdale’s treatment plant, which is less than a decade old. Sewickley has faced high maintenance costs for its own plant, which is currently $14 million in debt and needs an estimated $5 million in repairs to run into the future, Sewickley Councilman Todd Renner said in September. Nearby residents have also complained about a foul odor from the plant.

According to Leetsdale engineer Dan Slagle, the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) expressed support for the joint treatment plan at a meeting, which included municipal officials and Allegheny County Health Department representatives.

“DEP was very supportive of the proposed plan and outlined a series of items that needed to be completed in order to accomplish this goal. The major item involved the preparation of an Act 537 Plan which would enable all parties concerned to evaluate the (wastewater treatment) plan,” Slagle said.

The two municipalities still have to agree on how to proceed, and officials planned to meet Feb. 7 to discuss information provided by DEP, according to Slagle. If they decide to move forward, an Act 537 Plan would be the next step, he added.

Lauren Fraley, a spokeswoman for the DEP, said municipalities must develop and implement Act 537 Plans that outline wastewater disposal needs and treatment solutions.

“If multiple municipalities (or their municipal authorities) decide to consolidate wastewater treatment from several municipalities, each municipal governing body must pass a resolution to that effect and submit a new Act 537 Plan to DEP for review,” Fraley said in an email.

Although both municipalities must undertake these steps before receiving state approval, municipal representatives stressed the importance of obtaining the DEP’s initial support. Without this support, the joint treatment project could not have moved forward, Slagle said.

“It is great news that the DEP supports a consolidation plan,” said Sewickley council President Jeff Neff.

Sam Bojarski is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.