The sewer department continues to work to eliminate the problem of combined sewer overflows (CSO). Designed and constructed through the ’50s to convey both sanitary sewage and storm runoff together, CSOs have not been permissible by the Department of Environmental Protection since that time. During the periods of rainfall and snow-melt, runoff flow into the sewers increases, and the excess is diverted to a combined sewer overflow and discharged into the river, including a portion of sanitary sewage flow that is untreated.
For several years, the Authority has monitored flows, conducted studies and taken appropriate basic measures to control these flows. The Authority welcomes continued public input on this problem and updates affected communities through correspondence and attendance at town council meetings.
Since this CSO elimination project could take several years to complete, individual communities are encouraged to follow Charleroi’s lead and develop their own options to reduce or eliminate the amount of CSO flow. Efforts of the individual communities to remove extra flows at the source can be very effective and can reduce the magnitude and cost of future projects necessary to meet EPA clean water objectives. If the individual communities fail to remove sources of this extra flow, the Authority will be required to take steps to treat this flow. The unfortunate result of not reducing or eliminating flows at the source is all costs related to its treatment will be passed on to residents in the
The Charleroi sewer separation project is an important step in controlling CSO events. A reduction in storm water flows has been noticed at the treatment plant as a result of the original and 7th street area work completed.
Video sewer recordings in Dunlevy, and flow monitoring of the sewers in Dunlevy and Speers, have been used to plan remedial and containment work to control excess flows found in that portion of the sewer system. This area will be the first to see construction of holding tanks or other measures to prevent these flows from discharging to the river, along with upgraded pumping facilities in these communities to pass these contained flows to the sewage treatment plant after rainfall and snow melt events. Design work now underway will permit construction of these improvements to begin later this year in the Dunlevy and Speers areas of the sewer system.
The Fallowfield Township Municipal Authority sanitary sewer system is now a part of the Charleroi system. Monitoring flows and sewer line testing to control inflow and infiltration from this area will aid in planning the additional measures necessary to control downstream CSO events.
The areas of Speers and Fallowfield that send flow through the Maple Creek pump station will be a priority for investigation to find illegal connections (downspouts and area drains) that cause overflow problems that the state has mandated for immediate correction. Please contact the Authority to determine if you are in the affected area.
A similar flow monitoring program in the North Charleroi system recommends holding tanks and a modified pump station as the likely solution to address the CSO issues in the North Charleroi system if excess flows are not removed at the source.
Looking ahead, substantial rate changes and/or surcharges are likely, in order to pay for the large construction costs associated with the various control projects necessary to comply with state and federal regulations. The Authority must provide the needed infrastructure to meet state and federal regulations when source flows are not reduced.
The end result of our efforts is to provide required infrastructure to meet government regulations, further enhance river conditions, support the residential and business base and protect the environment for all residents to enjoy.