Sandy Delays Decision on Whether or Not to Sell Water and Sewer System

DUBOIS – On Monday night, the Sandy Township Supervisors decided to delay action on whether or not to sell its water and sewer system.

The supervisors concluded its meeting with the following four options, which are to:

  • sell the Water and Sewer System (WASS) to Aqua PA, which currently operates the water and sewer system for Treasure Lake.
  • sell the WASS to DuBois City, which currently services most of Sandy Township.
  • continue to operate the WASS as best as Sandy Township can.
  • combine the Sandy Township and DuBois City water and sewage systems under the management of a joint commission.

The next supervisors’ meeting was scheduled for Sept 10.

On Monday night, Township Manager Dave Monella addressed the question with regards to the source of Aqua PA’s water.

He explained that if the WASS was sold to Aqua PA, its hope is to turn around and serve as the “middle man” with DuBois City.

However, he said if that didn’t pan out, Aqua PA had other options, which he didn’t elaborate upon. In addition, the supervisors didn’t volunteer any answers when asked by the public.

“Why would you want residents to pay more for the same service?” asked Sandy Township resident Audrey Pittsley. Supervisor Jim Jeffers asked her to think long-term.

During the meeting, there was some discussion of the township retaining ownership of the WASS and attempting to merge with DuBois City under a joint commission.

Members of the public also continued to express concerns that if the WASS was sold to DuBois City, it would mean for rate increases for customers.

“You are either going to pay now or later,” Jeffers said. It was noted that city officials have plans to build a new sewage treatment plant, which would be costly and a reason for a rate increase.

According to Jeffers, city officials are expecting to spend $40-$50 million on construction. Officials have cited the new facility has become necessary to meet state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regulations.

Jeffers said if Aqua PA would send sewage to its plant in Treasure Lake, reduced flow to DuBois City could possibly allow for the construction of a smaller plant. He said it could possibly cost $20 million less.

Another future concern centered around the DuBois City Reservoir, which is of better quality. It was noted that Aqua PA’s water quality is poor and water filtration systems are common in Treasure Lake homes.

“How long is that water going to be good if you can walk across it?” asked Supervisor Dave Sylvis. The supervisors warned that the reservoir has issues that could affect its longevity.

A current issue affecting the reservoir is gradual silt built up. As the silt builds up in the reservoir, the maximum capacity declines.

Jeffers pointed out that the reservoir is located on the other side of the continental divide.  As a result, he said it flows through a tunnel in the mountain to reach DuBois City’s water system.

In addition, Jeffers warned that “seismic currents” run through the area and could cause the tunnel to cave in some day.

According to the supervisors, another concern is with regards to the DEP not allowing the creation of new open-air water reservoirs due to pollution and terrorism.

While DuBois City is being grandfathered in with its existing reservoir, it wouldn’t be available for future use in the event that something would occur.

Sylvis said he “truly and honestly” believed the best option is with a municipal authority. He said the township’s authority was less political and fairer than DuBois City.

With a joint commission, Sylvis said the township would have a seat at the design table for the construction of DuBois City’s new treatment plant.

He said the township might be able to negotiate and help cut costs. He suggested that Falls Creek could get involved, as well.  Many supervisors supported the idea, but it was noted that DuBois City would have to agree to it.

Supervisor Mark Sullivan suggested that the township could recover enough financially to maintain the WASS and also stated he would prefer not to sell it.

In other business, the township and municipal authority voted to reduce the inflow and infiltration surcharge from $9.50 per $1,000 gallons to $6.

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