Salisbury Press

Thursday, April 2, 2020


Wednesday, September 18, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Local News

Funds approved for stormwater work pproved for stormwater system work to comply with EPA court order

Compliance with the United States Environmental Protection Agency court order to mitigate stormwater infiltration in Salisbury Township is going well, according to the township consulting engineer guiding the project.

Salisbury is included in the federal court order issued in 2009 because the township, along with other Lehigh County municipalities, utilizes the services of the Lehigh County Authority.

"We're required to get our water out of the system by Dec. 31, 2014," David J. Tettemer, township consulting engineer, of Keystone Consulting Engineers, Inc., told the township board of commissioners and administration officials during an agenda-scheduled presentation at the Sept. 12 township meeting in the municipal building.

"That's why we need to move forward," Township Manager Randy Soriano said.

Township commissioners voted 4-0, with one member absent Sept. 12, to approve the transfer of $162,000 in funds to continue the project.

Reduction of inflow into the Allentown system is necessary because overflow has occurred during storms, with the result that untreated sewage has spilled over into Little Lehigh Creek, a source of water for Allentown, Salisbury, South Whitehall Township and Hanover Township (Lehigh County).

"You don't want water into the sanitary sewer system," Tettemer added. "It causes backups in the system and overflows."

The Salisbury project includes videotaping of pipes and repairing cracked pipes with grouting or replacing the pipes.

If the township, as well as other municipalities, does not comply, it could be subject to a $37,500 per day fine for civil violations and up to $50,000 per day for criminal violations.

Emmaus, Alburtis, Upper Milford Township, South Whitehall Township, Lower Macungie Township, Macungie, Hanover Township, Lowhill Township, Weisenberg Township, Upper Macungie Township Authority, the Coplay Whitehall Township Sewer Authority, Allentown and the Lehigh County Authority are undertaking work similar to that in Salisbury. "They're all in the process of doing this work," Tettemer said.

Tettemer was asked about the degree to which the township could be subject to the fine.

"If this township were to take no action yes, there are fines by the EPA," Tettemer said.

"The township has made a very strong effort," Tettemer assured township officials. "There are two reports per year [made by the township to the EPA].

"We have until next year to put something quantifiable that we've gone through the system and identified it [infiltration]," Tettemer said.

In his presentation, Tettemer set up an easel in front of the officials with a large township map, which indicates areas of stormwater infiltration into the township sanitary sewer system.

Tettemer explained the map prioritizes areas of infiltration. He said obvious areas of infiltration were first looked at, including manhole covers.

In fall 2012, videotaping and viewing of the township system was undertaken to determine holes, cracks and loose joints in the underground pipes where water from springs or during rainfalls might be flowing into the township sewer system.

In spring 2014 any remaining areas "some minor areas" ... "mostly in laterals," according to Tettemer, will be videotaped.

In fall 2014, additional videotape viewing will take place.

"That will give us an idea of how much water we've taken out of the system," Tettemer said.

The goal is to reduce infiltration by 5 percent to 10 percent. "That's the numbers that EPA wants to see," Tettemer said.

Said Soriano, "The EPA is going to determine if enough [infiltration reduction] is enough."

"There's no finite numbers," Tettemer said of EPA's target infiltration volume reduction.

Pointing to certain areas on the map, Tettemer said, "These were determined to be some of the worst areas [of infiltration]."

On the map, white areas have negligible infiltration. Gray and yellow areas have enough infiltration to make it "worth looking at and sealing it up," Tettemer said.

Most of the areas needing attention are located on the township's east side, where water levels are higher and the pipe infrastructure is older.

Some of the problem areas of infiltration include pipes along Seidersville Road, South Dauphin Street and Maumee Avenue.

"I was pleasantly surprised. For a 40-year-old system, there really weren't that many gaps [breaks or holes in pipes]," Tettemer said.

Township Commissioner Debra Brinton asked Tettemer what can be done in the event of major storm precipitation.

"When we have a large rain, my street looks like a river," Brinton said.

Tettemer explained stormwater runoff is not supposed to go into the sanitary sewer system. "It's supposed to go into the storm sewer system," Tettemer said.

Township Director of Public Works John Andreas said on the west side, the township system flows to the Allentown system and, on the east side, it flows to the Bethlehem system.

Andreas said the east side infiltration is aggravated by the presence of South Mountain and Lehigh Mountain, Trout Creek and a high-ground water table.

Meter Station 10 along Lehigh Avenue is the most problematic, Andreas said.

"That's why the focus has been in that area," Andreas said.

After the project is completed, Tettemer said, "You'll probably get another 40 years out of this [system]."

The EPA order dates to September 2009 with raw sewage discharges into the Lehigh River, Little Lehigh Creek, Cedar Creek and Jordan Creek, said to occur during the past decade, starting in 2003. A sewage overflow was also reported in summer 2012.

The discharges, which happened at pipes carrying sewage to the Kline's Island Sewage Treatment Plant, Allentown, are in violation of the federal Clean Water Act.