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Need for waste treatment facility upgrade questioned

January 08, 2004|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

bonnieb@herald-mail.com

The expense and necessity of upgrading Greencastle's waste treatment facility were questioned at Monday's Borough Council meeting.

Council member Charles Eckstine said he wants a second opinion on the proposal from Gannett Fleming Inc. to combine a sludge management project with the aeration project currently under design. The additional engineering fees would be $85,800, and additional construction costs are estimated at $993,000, bringing the combined estimated project cost to $2.5 million.

"It's more capacity than we need," Eckstine said. "I've never seen documentation from DEP that we need this."

Eckstine said he has contacted a firm in York, Pa., that could give the borough a second opinion.

Council Member Harold Duffey expressed concern that sewer rates would have to increase.

"What can they do if we don't meet this?" he asked.

Chief operator of the waste water plant, Ray C. Myers Jr., said that no new sewer connections would be permitted if the plant is not upgraded.

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While Taylor Farms, a local vegetable processing operation, often is blamed for the overabundance of sewage, Myers said that Taylor Farms is only half of the problem.

Borough Manager Ken Myers said that Taylor Farms "brought to light a problem we didn't know we had. The plant can't handle the waste."

He added that work cannot be held off much longer, as the design has to be completed by Feb. 28.

"We're within two weeks of telling them to go back to work. The contract is for $101,000, and we've spent half of that," Myers said.

A second opinion would cost the borough about $80,000, Eckstine said. The aeration portion of the upgrade already has been approved.

Sydnae Vanner moved to approve Gannett Fleming's proposal as presented, and it was approved with members Eckstine and Gerald Pool opposing.

Ray Myers said that sewage coming into the waste water plant first is aerated, then purified, and the resulting clean water discharged to the stream. The remaining biosolids are either applied to a farmer's field or trucked to a landfill.

"It costs $1,000 a week to landfill," he said. The borough paid $18,000 in 2003 to landfill biosolids.

The DEP permits storage of biosolids on a field if they are 16 percent solids. They then may be applied to the field if it is not frozen, rainy or snowy.

Myers said he applied for a permit to store the biosolids on site. Midway through the process, the DEP changed the regulations, he said, and now biosolids must be at 20 percent to be stored.

"I can't get it to 20 percent," he said. "We're forced to take it to the landfill in the winter."

Taylor Farms produced sewage equivalent to 300 to 400 homes, he said.

"They are not the cause," Myers said. "We have a permit that spells out how much you can treat per day. We didn't know we didn't have the capacity to treat that number until Taylor Farms came along."

The proposed upgrades would solve the problem "for the next 20 years," Ray Myers said.

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