The Abington Regional Wastewater Authority is getting the ball rolling on improvements to the sewage treatment plant.
The Authority manages sewage or wastewater treatment for much of the Abington area.
According to the Authorityâ??s website, the group collects anything that goes down the drain in Clarks Green, Clarks Summit or South Abington at the Abington Waste Water Treatment Plant on Route 6 in â??the Notch.â?
There, impurities are removed and clean water is returned to Leggettâ??s Creek, which is the stream that runs through South Abington Park. On an average day, 125,000 gallons of clean water are produced every hour.
The Authority has purchased the land across the street from the treatment plant, and the group is currently applying for permits to begin construction on an expansion.
â??The plant expansion was designed for many reasons, but the heart of the reason was the Abingtons overall, not South Abington, not Clarks Summit, not Clarks Green, but the Abingtons in general are having major infiltration problems,â? said Authority treasurer Gloria Lance of South Abington.
Infiltration is excess water that flows into sewer pipes from groundwater and storm water.
A majority of the areaâ??s underground collection system was built as early as the 1930s, and as a result they are crumbling and this is creating leaks.
The groundwater is getting into the sewage system through the leaks and causing the infiltration.
These leaks can increase the flow of liquid to the plant from about 3 million gallons per day to almost 19 million gallons per day. Thatâ??s 16 million gallons of once clean water that now requires costly treatment.
Each municipality owns its own sewer pipes, and is responsible to fix and repair any leaks, but because everything is underground, it can be difficult to figure out the location of the leak.
â??The sewer plant is managed to handle waste, not infiltrationâ?»it has some leeway to handle infiltration,â? said Lance.
The plant expansion will allow the plant to begin handling infiltration. This is one of the benefits of the expansion, but itâ??s not the only reason the Authority decided to begin the projected $34 million project.
The cracked pipes also forced the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to put a moratorium on new sewer hookups in the Abingtons, which halted construction in the area.
â??All of a sudden no buildingâ?»and workers start getting affected,â? said Lance.
The moratorium and the infiltration inspired the Authority to draft Act 537.
Act 537, which was approved by each municipality last year, outlined every area of what needs to be done from monitoring it, to how the cost will be managed.
The approval of Act 537 led the DEP to lift the moratorium.
The expansion will also help the area meet its Chesapeake Bay Initiative state requirements.
The Chesapeake Bay Initiative requires sewage treatment plants in the Chesapeake Bay watershed reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous they allow to be discharged into the watershed.
Lance said that the Authority is hoping to begin construction next year and have expansion completed by 2015.
For more information, visit www.abingtonwastewater.org/home.asp.