DUBOIS – Inflow and infiltration was the main topic of discussion at Monday night’s Sandy Township meeting.
“Once again, we have no control over [sewage and water rates],” said Supervisor Dave Sylvis.
A township resident was present to ask about the surcharge on their sewage bill and the reason behind it. According to the resident, their surcharge was approximately $70 for around 5,000 to 6,000 gallons of water.
Inflow and infiltration occurs when any unexpected fluid enters the sewage system. The excess water also enters the treatment facility, where it goes through the treatment process.
Sandy Township is a customer of DuBois City’s water and sewer system. Sandy Township then sells access to its citizens.
DuBois City had charged Sandy Township based upon water consumption, according to water meter readings and the assumption that was the amount of sewage.
“They’ve decided to bill Sandy Township differently,” explained Township Engineer Perry Bowser. He added that every other city customer was still being billed by the water meter.
Approximately one year ago, DuBois City and Sandy Township installed flow meters. These were installed at points where Sandy Township sewage entered DuBois City’s system.
It was done in order to charge Sandy Township appropriately for the amount of its sewage. Sandy Township, however, continued to charge its customers based on the water meter.
According to Township Manager Dave Monella, some months depending on rainfall, the township’s monthly bill from DuBois City jumped from $80,000 to $200,000. It was due to water leaking into the township’s sewer system at various points.
“There are problems on the main lines, there are problems on the laterals, there are problems with manholes leaking and problems with things tied in that shouldn’t be,” explained Bowser.
It was noted that the township used reserve funds, which were intended for repairs and maintenance, to cover the difference. Sandy Township officials also tried negotiating with DuBois City.
Sylvis indicated it cost more than one million to Sandy Township. Supervisor Jim Jeffers added: “We ran out of money. We ran out of our reserve money,”
Sandy Township subsequently implemented a $9.50 surcharge per 1,000 gallons to cover its extra costs. It opted for this route over a rate increase to keep the amount visible.
It was noted that as Sandy Township makes repairs to its portion of the sewer system, there should be less and less inflow and infiltration. In turn, this would lessen sewer costs.
As bills shrink, the supervisors plan to reduce the surcharge. “It is a surcharge and not a rate increase. As inflow and infiltration goes down, we hope to bring that down,” said Monella.
It was also explained that the $9.50 surcharge is based upon water usage. As a result, township residents do not need to worry about having a spike in their bill during rainy months.
Officials said the township has already started making repairs, completing smoke testing and having cameras run through the lines to identify sources of inflow and infiltration.
A finalized report on the inspection is expected due to township officials soon.