Home sale tied up with approval of Pucketa Watershed sewer
A Murrysville couple is hoping to move one step closer this week to their goal of connecting their Pucketa Watershed home with a public sewer system.
Jim Copal and his wife, who live on the 5000 block of Greensburg Road in north Murrysville, have been trying to sell their home and recently scheduled a Dec. 1 closing with the prospective buyer, according to their attorney John Scales.
Scales laid out the Copals’ case before the Franklin Township Municipal Sanitary Authority, or FTMSA, last week, and the authority voted unanimously to approve the Copals’ connection into the Municipal Authority of Washington Township’s existing sewer lines.
Because the home is within the FTMSA service area, the Copals needed to obtain permission from the authority to be connected to a different sewage agency.
An emergency hearing was set for yesterday, Wednesday, in the Westmoreland Court of Common Pleas, in an attempt to move the process forward.
That hearing took place after the Star’s deadline. Scales said the Copals hope the hearing will allow them to advance their plans.
“What we want to do is try to put everything together, with all the different parties involved, so we can go ahead and tap into the sewage,” Scales said. “The Copals very much want to be part of the Washington Township system. Hopefully, everyone involved will be there.”
Washington Township authority officials have said that they are willing to work with north Murrysville residents who want to tap in, but they also have said they aren’t willing to spend more money to do it after recently completing the $22 million sewer upgrade that afforded the Copals an opportunity to try to connect to public sewer.
In an early-October letter copied to FTMSA, the Washington Township authority and officials of both Murrysville and Washington Township, Jack Crislip — clean-water supervisor for the state’s Department of Environmental Protection — asked that all of the authorities and governments involved consider revising their sewage plans, the documents which lay out sewer logistics.
DEP Spokesman Jim Poister said as far as the Copals, the state is satisfied.
“DEP has no objections to the Copal’s tap-in request. From our standpoint, they only need to get the go-ahead from the authorities involved,” Poister said.
FTMSA Manager Jim Brucker said the area’s sewer history has led to its current state.
“In the late ’90s, Murrysville asked me to work on (their sewage plan) with (Murrysville chief administrator) Jim Morrison, who was manager at the time,” Brucker said. “At that time, Washington Township told us they were not interested in serving that area with sewer.”
Brucker said FTMSA’s most cost-effective recommendation was a gravity sewer line running to New Kensington. That line, however, would have had to be built by the Washington Township authority.
Several years later, Washington Township authority officials opted to extend sewer to the homes in the Pucketa Watershed, “but they also said they were not interested in a gravity line to New Ken,” Brucker said.
Brucker noted that an older FTMSA resident survey showed only two of 35 Murrysville homeowners in the watershed wanted to connect to public sewer.
“There are six or eight homes that could tap in tomorrow,” Brucker told the FTMSA board. “But the rest of the homes — this authority would have to construct sewer lines to connect them, and (the cost of doing that) is why so many of the homeowners said they wanted nothing to do with it.”
Brucker said he didn’t understand why the connection was taking so much time and effort.
“The (Kiski Valley authority) treatment plant Washington Township ties into does 5 million gallons a day. This home will add 200 gallons. I really don’t know what the problem is,” Brucker said.
Kiski Valley Water Pollution Control Authority plant manager Dennis Duryea said his plant can handle and would welcome the additional flow.
Scales said that while his legal action is only on behalf of the Copals, it could have implications for neighbors who want to tap into Washington Township.
“I’d think the same issues would apply to other people who are in the same boat, where their house is in Murrysville but the sewer is a few feet away in Washington Township.”
Patrick Varine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-871-2365 or [email protected].