Authority to aid chlorine compliance

The Altoona Water Auth­ority will allow staff to set up a program to help the municipalities that buy bulk water from the authority for distribution in their own systems to comply with a new environmental regimen.

The program, which will offer help to Hollidaysburg, Bellwood, Duncansville and Freedom and Blair townships, could generate revenue for the authority, officials said at a recent meeting.

The new regimen is Method 334.0, a prescription for daily monitoring of residual chlorine, according to Tobias Nagle, the authority’s water treatment supervisor, and online sources.

Published in 2009 by the federal Environmental Pro­tection Agency, Method 334.0 is just now beginning to be enforced by the state Depart­ment of Environ­mental Protection, Nagle said.

That enforcement in­cludes the authority’s “inter­connects” — the systems into which authority-produced water flows, he said.

The municipalities running those systems “are going to have a hard time complying,” Nagle said.

It’s in the authority’s in­terest to help them, he said.

The authority is prepared to deal with the new regimen, as 15 staffers have learned what they need and the equipment they will use has been certified, Nagle said.

“We are already there — or almost,” he said.

The additional work is within his department’s capabilities, Nagle said.

“We can work it in with what we’re doing anyway,” he said.

But the authority isn’t inclined to go further, despite probable additional demand for help by other water system operators.

Providing such additional help would be “inconvenient,” and besides, the authority doesn’t want to compete with private laboratories that will offer the service, officials indicated.

The new initiative is “a good thing,” said board member Marla Marcinko.

But she was uncomfortable with a document that labeled potential excess revenue from the operation “profit.”

That led to the removal of the offending word.

Still, the authority is permitted to generate income from the effort, according to solicitor Dave Consiglio.

“You’re certainly allowed to meet your expenses,” he said.

Any excess needs to go back into authority operations, he said.

It’s his understanding that earning revenue is OK, “as long as the board doesn’t take the money home in their pockets,” said Todd Mus­ser, supervisor of water treatment operations, who has been working on projects to take advantage of sewer system capabilities to generate revenue for the authority.