DUBOIS – An agreement between Sandy Township and Aqua America concerning the installation of fire hydrants at Treasure Lake was tabled at this week’s supervisors’ meeting.
The supervisors voted to table taking action in order to obtain additional information, as well as to discuss specific details on testing the fire hydrants, once they have been installed.
Jim Willard of Aqua America presented the proposal and also provided a history of Treasure Lake’s water system. He said when Aqua purchased the system in 2013, it was neither capable of providing fire flow, nor designed for it.
The system, he said, was designed in the 1970’s when it was believed that it would only be needed to provide drinking water and that any water needed to extinguish fires could be drawn from the lake.
Willard said to upgrade the water system to support fire hydrants, Aqua would have to increase the source of water for the system, storage capabilities, upgrade water mains and so forth.
The Sandy Township Fire Department would like to install around 50 hydrants at Treasure Lake, and Aqua has done some prep work to make the installation of hydrants easier in those locations in the future.
When asked by Supervisor Kevin Salandra about the cost to install a hydrant, Willard estimated $5,000, noting if it was coordinated with active main replacements, that cost could be lower.
If the agreement is approved, Willard said Aqua has $350,000 scheduled for installation in 2021 alone, and the same amount is budgeted for 2022 and 2023, as well.
He said installation would be free for Sandy Township, however, the township would pay $300 annually to rent the hydrants. “We would be owners of the system.” Discussions were then paused over testing procedures.
Per Willard, Aqua would test each of the possible 100 hydrants at least once annually, but ideally twice. This would also include flushing the hydrants, but Supervisors Mark Sullivan and Bill Beers pressed Willard on whether the yearly testing would include flow testing.
Willard said that was “well beyond” the scope of an annual fire hydrant test. Sullivan and Beers said they believed that the annual testing should include pressure and flow measurements.
Willard said Aqua would conduct a fire flow test, once at installation, but flow testing could be done by annual flushing. He said it could gauge measurements, if issues were suspected at the time.
“Without applying a gauge, how do you know there’s a reduction in pressure?” asked Sullivan. He noted that gauge testing of hydrant flow and pressure was currently done in Sandy Township, outside of Treasure Lake.
During the debate, Beers suggested staggering the fire flow testing by every five years, instead of annually. This, he said, would mean only 20 hydrants would need fire testing per year; Sullivan also suggested eyeballing flow during flushing.
“You asked for fire flow testing; that has a very specific connotation,” said Willard, who requested the supervisors put into writing their definition of fire flow testing. Beers also requested a copy of Aqua’s testing procedures.
The supervisors then voted to table action until the next Sandy Township Supervisors’ meeting on May 17 in order to research the issue.