Alcosan offers overflow solutions

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The Allegheny County Sanitary Authority has issued draft recommendations for two sewage and storm water control and treatment facilities along the Allegheny River in Millvale and the Monongahela River in Munhall.

Alcosan's preferred alternative to handle the wet weather discharges in Millvale is a $28.3 million to $30.4 million facility on a site occupied by the Millvale Marina, next to the municipality's riverfront park and near the mouth of Girty's Run. The cost difference depends on the type of treatment technology used.

Such a primary treatment facility would prevent storm-caused overflows on an average of 103 days a year of 176 million gallons of untreated sewage into the Allegheny River. It would cost $430,000 a year to operate.

The satellite treatment facility draft plans considered four sites along the river but identified the marina property owned for 25 years by Leonard and Grace Jesteadt as the best option.

"We haven't been approached about this yet," Mrs. Jesteadt said.

Oliver Poppenberg, a Three Rivers Rowing Association board member, said the treatment facility could help reduce the sludge that is clogging the channel behind Washington's Landing.

"The flows into the back channel are slowed and restricted because of the buildup of material at the head of the island and that causes the water to start smelling as the bacteria builds up," Mr. Poppenberg said. "And when the oars splash water, it creates a potential health problem."

Dan Lockard, Alcosan construction manager, said a final recommendation on the facility has been deferred because of an ongoing Route 28 road widening project that will alter storm water flows to Alcosan's four sewer outfalls in the area. He said that road work and other factors would delay construction until 2013.

In Munhall, Alcosan is recommending construction of a $32.3 million screening and disinfection treatment facility at the bottom of Ravine Street, at the downstream end of the Homestead Run trunk sewer line, just up river from the Waterfront shopping development in Homestead.

That sewer outfall discharges wet weather flows of about 251 million gallons on up to 157 days a year.

Because Munhall is further along than Millvale in its long-term sewer planning, Mr. Lockard said construction could begin as soon as 2011 if land acquisition issues can be resolved with Marcegaglia USA Inc., a stainless steel tube manufacturer. Representatives of the company told Alcosan at a meeting Monday in Munhall that the proposed siting of the treatment facility would hurt its expansion plans.

"We need to meet with them and we certainly don't want to cause any job loss," Mr. Lockard said. "But this is a common theme as we try to secure sites where we can capture the storm flow in a cost-effective manner."

The demonstration projects have been planned in conjunction with new sewer collection and treatment facilities mandated by a federal court order that requires the sewer authority to eliminate almost all of the 22 billion gallons of untreated sewage discharged into the region's rivers and creeks each year. Alcosan, which provides sewage treatment for Pittsburgh and 82 municipalities with a total population of 900,000, must put together a plan by 2012 and implement it by 2026.

The information gathered from building and operating the two demonstration projects will be used to help plan and implement regionwide combined sewer overflow controls required by the court order.

The storm triggered discharges from the region's 153 combined sewer outfalls and 53 illegal sanitary sewer overflows, contaminate the rivers with harmful pollutants.

Summaries of the plans can be read at www.alcosan.org. Comments on the plans can be submitted to John Findley, OCF Project Manager, ALCOSAN, 3300 Preble Ave., Pittsburgh 15233, or fax at 412-734-8716 or e-mail at john.findley@alcosan.org.


Don Hopey can be reached at dhopey@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1983.


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