Expanded Kiski Valley sewage plant credited with preventing pollution disaster
The expanded Kiski Valley Water Pollution Control Authority treatment plant showed its value again this month.
During the heavy rainfall in the Kiski Valley area related to tropical storm Gordon, the treatment plant handled 29 million gallons of water after the remnants of the storm dropped 7 to 8 inches of rain on the area over just a few days.
Had the capacity of the plant not been doubled, officials say a natural disaster could have taken place.
The old plant had a capacity of 19 million gallons daily. The expansion project, completed in May 2016, increased the capacity up to 31 million gallons a day.
The $36 million project was part of the authority’s efforts to comply with state and federal mandates to reduce overflows of untreated sewage into the river during heavy rains.
As much as 10 million gallons of untreated sewage and stormwater would have flowed into the Kiski River and its tributaries had the plant’s capacity not been expanded, officials said.
Plant Manager Dennis Duryea told the authority board there “is still excessive flow coming from somewhere” in the service area that needs to be determined.
Many of the authority’s member communities completed sewer separation projects designed to prevent stormwater from entering the treatment plant as part of efforts to reduce overflows.
The high volume of flow treated by the plant is at least the second time this year the expanded plant prevented a pollution event in the river.
In February, record rainfall forced the plant to treat up to 27 million gallons of water per day.
The new plant’s efficiency hasn’t gone unnoticed.
At a recent Pennsylvania Municipal Authorities association convention in Erie, the Kiski Valley treatment plant was rated one of the top 20 in the state in the assessment performance category.
The Kiski Valley Water Pollution Control Authority services about 12,500 customers in 13 municipalities.
George Guido is a freelance writer.