DUBOIS – The Sandy Township Supervisors, along with the municipal authority, have initiated the process to sell the water and sewer authority to another entity.
The first step was the township’s receipt of the final bids. The next involves the transfer of the authority to the township, except for its cash and accounts payable, so that officials can transfer assets to the prospective new owner.
Initially, officials from four entities indicated their interest in the municipal authority. Of those, only two – which notably have pre-existing ties to the water and sewer system – submitted bids.
The first bidder was Aqua PA, which owns and operates the water and sewer system in Treasure Lake. The other was DuBois City, which the township currently purchases its water from and also sends its sewerage to for treatment.
Both final bids totaled $12 million. Aqua PA’s bid was a “blanket” cash amount. DuBois City’s consisted of $5 million in cash and payment of the township’s $7 million in estimated debt with regards to the water and sewer system.
Township Engineer Perry Bowser noted that while the debt has fallen below $7 million, DuBois City officials have stated their total bid will remain at $12 million.
Bowser also said the city submitted two bids, and the first was only to pay off the township’s related debt.
The major and immediate difference between Aqua PA’s and DuBois City’s bids for municipal authority customers are the proposed rates.
The monthly rates provided below are for a customer who would be using 3,000 gallons of water per month.
|Aqua PA||City of DuBois|
|Water only customer||$60.25||$41.71|
|Sewage only customer||$73.75||$59.41|
|Water and Sewage Customer||$121.75||$88.87|
According to Bowser, Aqua PA is expecting these rates to stay locked in until 2022. DuBois City intends to keep its rates until the new sewage treatment plant is built.
It’s expected that the plant will be completed in about three years. Both entities are regulated by the Pennsylvania Utilities Commission and would need its approval before enacting rate changes.
Other differences in the proposed services include the following:
- Aqua PA would not impose any tap fees, while DuBois City would. Bowser said it is standard for municipalities to impose tap fees and the township has done so.
- DuBois City officials would like to have a say in who would serve non-Treasure Lake sub areas of Sandy Township.
- Aqua PA would require that the inflow and infiltration surcharge be decreased before it would purchase the system.
“[The water and sewer system]’s become so bad that it is overpowering everything else that has precedence in needing work done,” said Supervisor Dave Sylvis.
According to previous GANT News reports, Sandy Township and DuBois City officials have been quarreling over inflow and infiltration for years.
I&I occurs when – for example – stormwater enters the sewage system. Once the stormwater enters the sewer pipes, it still needs to be treated.
DuBois City officials bowed to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) pressure and started working on getting the I&I under control at its treatment plant.
While Sandy Township is a customer of DuBois City, city officials in turn started to put pressure on township officials. City officials eventually changed how the township was billed.
Originally, Sandy Township was billed without any I&I. Water – purchased by the township – was assumed to be the same amount of sewage returning to the city’s system. The township billed its customers on the same basis.
However, city officials had meters installed in the main sewer lines, where they cross over from Sandy Township into DuBois City. As a result, city officials started to bill the township based upon actual incoming sewage.
According to previous GANT News reports, this increased the township’s sewage bill from $80,000 per month to $200,000 per month, dependent upon the monthly rainfall.
“We were put into a corner … It financially cornered us,” said Supervisor Jim Jeffers.
Township officials have also considered different resolutions over the years. Back in 2015, officials looked into building the township’s own treatment facility, as well as into signing a contract with DuBois City.
The supervisors will hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. Aug. 13 at the Oklahoma-Salem Fire Hall, located at 1257 Chestnut Ave.
The purpose is to answer questions from municipal authority customers. The supervisors are leaving their options open as to whether or not they will vote on the sale of the water and sewer system at the special meeting.
Also, a crowd was present at the supervisors’ meeting to complain about Aqua PA’s attempts to build a water treatment facility in Treasure Lake, and one local resident gave his opinion on the sale of the authority.
“I think, as a board, you need to stop and take a long hard look at what’s best for the township,” said Del Spafford, township resident.
Spafford was concerned that if the system would be sold to DuBois City, it would back the township into a corner.
On the other hand, he said Aqua PA probably has more funds available to perform necessary work on the water and sewer system, and it also covers a third of the township’s residents in Treasure Lake.
Spafford didn’t believe there was a reason to split Sandy Township and have two different entities covering the system. As a result, he was “totally against” the municipal authority being sold to DuBois City.
Later in the meeting, complaints were given against Aqua PA. Spafford urged the supervisors to sit down with Aqua PA officials about finally doing something about the “hundreds” of homes that aren’t being provided with water that was “fit to drink.”