Salisbury Press

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PRESS PHOTO BY PAUL WILLISTEIN Steven G. Lowry, Bethlehem Authority consultant, explains the eastern Salisbury booster water pump station. PRESS PHOTO BY PAUL WILLISTEIN Steven G. Lowry, Bethlehem Authority consultant, explains the eastern Salisbury booster water pump station.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Local News

$100,000 booster water pump station to improve east side service; concerns raised about low fire hydrant pressure in battling blazes

A $100,000 project is expected to improve morning showers for residents, but is not expected to improve water pressure for fighting fires in eastern Salisbury Township.

A booster water pump station, with installation to be paid for by the City of Bethlehem, is to be in operation by year's end, Stephen Repasch, executive director, Bethlehem Authority, said at the July 10 Salisbury Township Board of Commissioners meeting.

"I guess you can say a person will have a normal shower in the morning," Salisbury Township Manager Randy Soriano said.

The station will serve township residents' properties in the Weil Street, Ritter Street, Summit Street, Wistar Street and Virginia Avenue area, west of Public Road and north of Broadway.

"I heard some of the complaints," Repasch, a Fountain Hill resident said. "Since joining the authority, I heard more complaints."

After the presentation, several Eastern Salisbury Fire Company firemen expressed concerns to township commissioners, Bethlehem officials and a reporter for Salisbury Press about low fire hydrant water pressure and alleged difficulty in opening hydrants on the east side.

Concerns about poor water pressure for fighting fires in eastern Salisbury go back at least five years.

"We had a fire there and there were some questions about the [water] pressure," Soriano said.

Firefighters from Lehigh and Northampton fire departments battled a fire 2:30 - 5 p.m. Jan. 4, 2009, at 1779 Kline Avenue in eastern Salisbury.

"Firefighting efforts were hampered by water supply problems," according to a report on

In the municipal building hallway after the presentation, when a Bethlehem official asked for a description of fire hydrant water pressure during the fire, a Salisbury firefighter replied, "Next to nothing."

Back in the municipal building meeting room, after the Bethlehem officials had left, other firefighters claimed Bethlehem water officials need to make sure east side hydrants are maintained and flushed.

"How much maintenance they do can be discussed [with the Bethlehem Authority]," Soriano said.

"All it's going to do is pump up the household pressure," Engineer Joseph Santilli, of Keystone Consulting Engineers, Inc., filling in for David J. Tettemer, said of the pumping station project.

The station is to add 40 pound-force per square inch to the present 25-50 PSI in the area of eastern Salisbury served by the Bethlehem Authority, according to project consultant Steven G. Lowry, of Steven G. Lowry & Associates, Inc., Mechanicsburg.

"That's going to provide steady [water] pressure in the area," Lowry said.

The station, two pumps of one and one-half horsepower (equivalent to a swimming-pool pump) operating alternately and as backup, will be at an elevation of 620 feet above sea level. It will serve an area that increases to 690 feet above sea level.

Bethlehem received an easement for the 9 by 9-foot, 10-foot-deep area for the station because it will be on private property at Elinor Street, Ritter Street and Weil Avenue. A Department of Environment Protection permit was approved. Bids have been received for the project.

Sound generated by the pump is expected to be a "low hum." There will be a hatchway at ground level, an air vent and landscaping.

City and township officials said letters will be sent to eastern Salisbury homeowners to alert them of the project.

There are 50 Salisbury customers of Bethlehem Authority in the area of the project.

"I'm sure the people who live there are going to be thrilled," Commissioner President James A. Brown said.

Repasch said many homeowners on the east side obtain water from well systems.

"This pump station could serve additional properties. We're hoping to get 50 or 60 more [customers]," Repasch said.

Also attending the township meeting was Edward J. Boscola, director of water and sewer resources, City of Bethlehem.