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Tarentum water, East Deer sewage plants subjects of upcoming public tours

Brian C. Rittmeyer
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Brian C. Rittmeyer | Tribune-Review
The building housing Tarentum’s water treatment plant dates from the 1930s. Residents can tour it on Saturday, March 9, 2019.
745185vndwatersewagetour2021419
Brian C. Rittmeyer | Tribune-Review
The Upper Allegheny Joint Sanitary Authority’s treatment plant in East Deer will be the second stop on a tour beginning at Tarentum’s water treatment plant on Saturday, March 9, 2019.

It will start at the beginning, and conclude at the end.

Tarentum’s water treatment plant and the Upper Allegheny Joint Sanitary Authority’s treatment plant in East Deer, in that order, will be the subject of public tours on Saturday, March 9.

There’s no cost, and anyone can go to see where water pulled from the Allegheny River goes before heading to homes and businesses, and what it goes through before being released back into the river.

The tours are being sponsored by the borough’s recreation board, which had last hosted tours of the water plant in connection with the borough’s 175th anniversary in 2017, board member Cindy Homburg said.

“It was very well attended and the people loved it. They just loved the tour,” she said. “We didn’t do it last year. We thought we’d do it again this year to show the people how pure our water here is that they’re drinking.

“This will show the people the whole process of what they’re doing,” she said. “There is so much involved in the water and the sewage, it is totally unbelievable. It’s a really good thing for the people to know why their bill is this much money.”

The tour will start at 10 a.m. at the water plant at 618 E. Fifth Ave., where Homburg said they expect to spend about an hour. Participants will then drive themselves to the sewage treatment plant, next to the East Deer park at the end of Front Street, to continue the tour there.

Touring a sewage plant might seem like an odd way to spend a Saturday, but it has proven to be extraordinarily popular when the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority does it. The authority held its 16th annual open house in September last year .

In addition to Tarentum, the Upper Allegheny sanitary authority serves Brackenridge, Buffalo Township, East Deer, Fawn, Frazer and Harrison.

Homburg described the sewage treatment process in detail — strainers, aerators, tunnels, and more — which those on the tour will get to see.

“It’s very interesting,” she said. “I was impressed. People won’t believe all that goes on down there.”

With a staff of five, Tarentum’s water plant treats about 1 million gallons of water drawn from the river per day, plant supervisor Jeff Adams said.

School children have been touring the plant every summer for several years. The plant is open to the public through appointment, Adams said.

People who have toured the plant in the past “were impressed with how the process is done and what all is involved — the amount of water that we make, how the process is done, seeing how the filters are washed out,” he said.

Those interested in participating in the tour can make a reservation with Homburg at 724-612-0076. The first group will be limited to 20; if more than 20 sign up, a second tour will be conducted.

If there’s interest, Homburg said the tours could become an annual event.

“It’s amazing what you can learn when you go to these,” she said.

Brian Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter @BCRittmeyer.