CLEARFIELD – The clock is ticking for the Clearfield Municipal Authority to meet a mandated deadline set by the Department of Environmental Protection.
At Tuesday’s CMA board meeting, Engineer Jim Balliet gave a status report regarding the September deadline to close the Hyde Sanitary Sewage Overflow.
Balliet said while the upgrades to the sewage treatment facility have been “closed out” and all future work will be covered under the two-year warranty, there is still concern about the amount of inflow and infiltration that is coming through the Hyde SSO.
Balliet said he is planning to meet with DEP to discuss the September deadline and he is hoping a representative from CMA as well as from Lawrence Township can attend.
Balliet said there was one discharge event on Monday and four at the end of February. Balliet said he feels the DEP will not grant an extension.
“DEP doesn’t want to hear we can’t do it. They don’t want to hear that a large percentage of the population is elderly and living on a fixed income. We’re depending on the (Lawrence) township to help fix this and it’s just not happening,” Balliet said. “This is not the first community this has happened to.”
Balliet said if the Hyde SSO is not closed by the deadline, the fines being levied by DEP each time the SSO is opened during heavy rain events will increase.
He said Williamsport was recently fined $364,000 for similar issues. He said if DEP chooses to turn the issue over to the Environmental Protection Agency, the fines could become even larger.
Balliet said when he last spoke to Lawrence Township officials and their engineers, he was told the township has sent out 26 letters to property owners with illegal French drains connected to the sanitary sewer system and 41 letters to property owners with broken pipes or leaking joints.
Balliet said he was told the township had responses for about half of those property owners. Balliet said while the letters are a step in the right direction, he is concerned that the township will not be able to remove enough of the inflow and infiltration to allow the Hyde SSO to be closed.
“I don’t know if people realize how serious this is,” CMA Board President Russ Triponey said.
“All the money being wasted on paying these fines is money that can’t be used to improve the system. If the township doesn’t pay the fines, it falls on us and if it falls on us, it’s going to fall on the residents.
“We’ve been telling them (the township) about this for at least three years. We need to talk to DEP and find out what our options are.”
According to previously-published GANT News articles, during periods of heavy rain, stormwater backs up into the sanitary sewer system.
The excess water forces the authority to open the sanitary sewer overflow in Hyde in order to release the water into the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.
Each time the overflow is opened, CMA receives a fine from DEP. The fine is divided between Lawrence Township, which pays 80 percent of the fine, and CMA, which pays the remaining 20 percent.
The excess stormwater has been an ongoing problem for CMA, Lawrence Township and Clearfield Borough. Both the borough and township have undertaken projects to remove stormwater from the sewage system.
However, Lawrence Township has been having problems with property owners who have illegal stormwater connections, such as French drains and downspouts that continue to discharge stormwater into the sewer system.