Sandy Supers Get Input on Possible Sale of Water and Sewer Systems

(Photo by Steven McDole)

DUBOIS – On Monday night, the Sandy Township Supervisors held a special meeting in order to gather input from taxpayers with regards to the possible sale of its water and sewer systems.

The meeting was well-attended by both township residents and employers. DuBois City, one of the two bidders, had reps in attendance following its council meeting.

Participants were asked not to engage in a debate on the matter. Anyone with questions was directed to attend a regular supervisors’ meeting.

The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 20.

Background

Due to increasing costs, the township is considering the sale of its water and sewer systems. Its system covers Sandy Township, with exception to Treasure Lake.

Treasure Lake’s system is under the operation of Aqua PA, and its water comes from wells. Additionally, Aqua PA has its own treatment facilities.

The other areas of the township have water purchased from DuBois City. Then, the sewage returns to the city for treatment.

Four entities were contacted regarding possible interest in purchasing Sandy Township’s water and sewer systems, but only two submitted bids – Aqua PA and DuBois City.

Both entities offered $12 million, but there are differences with regards to rates and tap fees. Aqua PA would eliminate tap fees, but the city would continue to have them.

The monthly rates below are for a customer who uses 3,000 gallons of water per month.

Aqua PA City of DuBois Difference
Water only customer $60.25 $41.71 $18.54
Sewage only customer $73.75 $59.41 $14.34
Water and Sewage Customer $121.75 $88.87 $32.88

(Photo by Steven McDole)

Sandy Township Water and Sewer Department worker Matt Smith and former Sandy Township Manager Dick Castonguay were both in favor of the township selling its water and sewer system to Aqua PA.

Smith called attention to DuBois City’s drop of the inflow and infiltration surcharge on the township, if it sells the system to the city. He said it’s evidence the city doesn’t really need to charge the township that much for its sewage.

Smith went on to say that he believed city officials were promising low rates now, but since its sewer system isn’t covered by the Pennsylvania Utilities Commission, they would likely raise them significantly down the road.

Castonguay said when he first came to Sandy Township to be its manager, he pushed for a joint non-political organization to manage the region’s water and sewer systems.

His goal was to eliminate politics from the water and sewer business. However, he faced backlash from city officials and was personally told the system was the city’s “cash cow.”

Castonguay said DuBois City officials keep taxes low and are able to pay for city expenses because they are controlling the regional water supply.

He said if they sold the water and sewer system to Aqua PA, it would prevent one community from managing a regional asset to the detriment of other communities.

“Wake up folks, you are heading down the wrong path,” Castonguay said.

Many participants urged the supervisors to sell the water and sewer systems to DuBois City for fear they would experience the same poor service and water quality as Treasure Lake with Aqua PA. There were other concerns with regards to fees.

Several people told the supervisors that without the purchase of filtration systems, Aqua PA’s well water isn’t fit for drinking or even washing clothes in Treasure Lake.

It was noted that the water is also damaging pipes and water heaters. It was a major concern for residents as the water source was still unknown in the event Aqua PA purchased the township’s system.

Resident Jeff Rice, also known as Dr. Doolittle, warned that the higher magnesium content of Treasure Lake is not only ruining the pipes there, but it would also harm water-cooled medical equipment.

He noted that the premature replacing of plumbing would become an additional cost for the community, if Aqua PA made use of water wells, such as those in Treasure Lake.

“You aren’t going to get a lot of people here for industry once people begin bad-mouthing the water,” Rice said.

A handful of participants had a combination of private wells, septic tanks or both. These people feared they would be forced to hook into the system. But if the sale was necessary, they would prefer to be serviced by DuBois City.

One person did urge the supervisors not to sell the water and sewer systems. They said they didn’t feel the township was getting enough money for it.

Anyone with questions is encouraged to attend a regular township meeting, which takes place on the first and third Monday of each month at 7 p.m.

(Photo by Steven McDole)

 

Shown is a posted map of Sandy Township’s sewer system. (Photo by Steven McDole)

Shown is a posted map of Sandy Township’s water system. (Photo by Steven McDole)

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