In early 2011, 3 Rivers Wet Weather awarded grants to dozens of Allegheny County municipalities to explore options for consolidating municipal sewer systems, which would ultimately save residents millions of dollars and protect southwestern Pennsylvania’s water resources at the same time.
A total of $495,000 was awarded for six projects representing 43 communities and authorities, who are collaborating to explore options for consolidating their sewer collection system, which is the most cost-effective, long-term strategy for the maintenance and operation of our public sewage system.
Consolidation can take many forms from simple contract operation and maintenance to more complete asset transfer. These six studies, which were completed in late June 2011, explore a variety of options that ultimately may serve as models for other communities interested in following suit.
The Municipal Sewer System Consolidation Studies Overview outlines the issues identified by the municipalities throughout this grant process.
A summary of each of the six individual projects and their final report follows:
• The continued operations by individual agreements between PWSA and each municipality
• What processes a municipality could use if it considered turning operations over to PWSA
• Standardizing agreements between PWSA and all municipalities
• ALCOSAN operating the major multijurisdictional sewer lines
• Turning management over to PWSA or a joint authority of the participating communities
Chartiers Creek Watershed
The communities of Upper St. Clair, Mt. Lebanon, Scott Township and Bridgeville explored the development of a cooperative agreement related to sewer system ownership and operation in the George Run, McLaughlin Run, Painters Run and Scrubgrass sewersheds. These municipalities reported on the alternatives evaluated; an assessment of the municipal willingness to consider the management alternatives; and legal, technical and financial requirements of each alternative.
Ohio River Basin
Four neighboring communities—McKees Rocks Borough, and Stowe, Kennedy and Neville Townships— explored the issues, benefits, costs and challenges associated with various joint management alternatives, with one of the considerations being integration of these local sewer entities into a new regional entity.
South Fayette Township Municipal Authority
McDonald Municipal Authority, North Fayette Township, Oakdale Borough, and South Fayette Municipal Authority evaluated joint sewer system management alternatives. This group has operated for the past 20 years as an unincorporated operating committee for the Robinson Run tributary area and evaluated various alternatives for expanding this cooperation within Robinson Run. This project also explored opportunities to implement expanded services for municipal sewer operation and management beyond the Robinson Run sewershed with one alternative being the possible formation of a joint sewer Authority.
Pine Creek Watershed
The Borough of Etna, and Ross, Shaler and Indiana Townships looked at options for more cost-effective sewer operation and maintenance while assuring compliance with the municipal consent orders. Their report on the alternatives evaluated, includes the advantages and disadvantages of each in terms of costs, efficiency, service, etc. A range of feasible options was examined with respect to their future viability, including: modifying shared services agreements, creating an Operating Committee, consolidation under a new entity and asset transfer options.
Munhall Sanitary Sewer Municipal Authority
Munhall Sanitary Sewer Municipal Authority, Whitaker, Homestead and West Homestead joined forces to examine all of the aspects required to effect a successful merger of various sewer services by evaluating current collection systems to identify strengths and deficiencies; and determine legal and financial concerns associated with these steps. The group will report on the alternatives evaluated. The existing Munhall Sanitary Sewer Municipal Authority was evaluated as the possible sewer consolidation entity for one or more of the other entities.