The U.S. District Court of the Western District of Pennsylvania approved a settlement between PennFuture, the Department of Environmental Protection and Confluence Borough Municipal Authority on December 16 to end the discharge of untreated sewage into the Youghiogheny River and prevent future pollution.
The settlement is the result of a lawsuit filed by PennFuture in May 2014, alleging numerous and ongoing violations of the federal Clean Water Act, state Clean Streams Law, and state Sewage Facilities Act at the sewage treatment plant operated by the authority.
Under the terms of the settlement, the authority agrees to:
-- Design and construct a new pressurized collection and conveyance system throughout the borough to replace the existing aged, gravity flow system;
-- Eliminate two unpermitted sewage outfalls that discharge raw sewage during periods of wet weather flow;
-- Submit and obtain a permit from the PADEP for construction of the new collection system; and
-- Have the system fully operational with users connected to the project within approximately four years.
“PennFuture is pleased to reach a settlement that will correct the violations at the plant and clean up the Middle Yough, an area known for its fishing, boating and other recreational opportunities,” said George Jugovic, Jr., Vice President of Legal Affairs at PennFuture.
“This project is a perfect example of how investing in infrastructure that cleans the environment will provide opportunities for economic growth in this area of the Laurel Highlands. With the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail and Ohiopyle State Park nearby, the natural beauty that surrounds Confluence offers substantial economic value, so long as we treat our environment with respect and invest in its maintenance,” Jugovic said.
The authority conveys sewage to the borough’s sewage treatment plant by an old gravity flow system that allows surface water to overwhelm the system during periods of high flow, resulting in the discharge of untreated and inadequately treated sewage into the river.
The collection system also consists of two overflow structures that discharge untreated sewage into the river during periods of high flow.
As part of the settlement, the authority will design and construct a new pressurized collection system that will replace the gravity flow system and prevent surface inflow from entering, allowing the plant to adequately treat sewage before discharge and eliminating illegal sewage overflows.
The compliance schedule in the settlement allows the Authority to apply for low-cost financing for the project from the PA Infrastructure and Investment Authority.For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the PennFuture website.