HOLLIDAYSBURG - Borough officials are gearing up for what will likely be a multimillion sewer project to be completed in the next few years.
Frank Cassisi, Hollidaysburg's director of wastewater operations, said that all borough sewer lines located between North Juniata Street, Bel Aire Road, North Montgomery Street and Allegheny Street will need to be replaced, as mandated by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection through its corrective action process.
Though no date has been set for work to begin, Borough Manager Mark Schroyer said the updates could cost between $3 million and $5 million "broad brush" to the borough. The entire section needs to be updated by June 2017, Cassisi said.
The borough will also require pressure testing of the pipes leading from the main sewer system into about 350 residences, Cassisi said. The majority of the pipes are likely in need of repair.
"We're assuming most of the 350 homes will need (their lateral pipes) replaced," Cassisi said.
Borough officials have yet to decide if the lateral repairs will be done at a cost to the property owners. If the borough pays, it could add between $500,000 and $1 million to the project cost, Schroyer said. It would cost between $2,000 and $4,000 per home to replace
The borough is also mulling over potential payment plans or alternatives to help ease the burden on residents, if they are required to pay for the lateral replacements, Schroyer said.
Cassisi said the decision will be an important one, as it will set a precedent for how the borough handles similar projects in the future.
If it pays for residents in one section, he said, it will have to do so in all of the others, as well.
Schroyer said that another sewer overhaul in the borough is likely coming on the heels of this project.
Cassisi said property owners will have to pay a plumber to perform a pressure test, regardless of whether the borough decides to pay for those new pipes. He said sewer officials will oversee the test but will not conduct it themselves.
Residents, especially those with older homes, are likely to have clay pipes connecting into the sewer system, Cassisi said. Homeowners who have newer pipes, made out of steel, for example, may pass the pressure tests and be exempt from the needed repairs.
"We're finding that the vast majority of the problem is behind the curb," Cassisi said.
Part of the issue, Cassisi said, is that stormwater is flowing into the old sewer mains. The repairs will also address that issue, he said.
He said that borough sewer rates are likely to rise as the project begins.
"We've got to get rid of the excess water," Cassisi said.
Mirror Staff Writer Paige Minemyer is at 946-7535.