Water Issues Bubble Up in Akron

By on October 21, 2015

Water issues were the focus of a special Akron borough council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 30.

That meeting was called after Councilman Jeff Shirk noted during council’s regular meeting Sept. 14, that the town is facing a 2018 deadline for implementing a plan to comply with the Susquehanna River Basin Commission requirement that the borough find an additional source of water.

Jeff Bologa and Mark Homan from Becker Engineering attended the meeting to describe the work their firm has been doing to develop a water model for Akron. The work was authorized sometime ago by council.

The model describes in detail the pipes, meters, pressures, pumps, connections, average demands, peak demands and other data that are needed before the borough can formulate a plan to meet the SRBC requirements.

The SRBC came into being in 1970 when then-President Richard Nixon signed into law the Susquehanna River Basin Compact. The commission enabled by that compact is in charge of the surface water, groundwater and wetlands in the Susquehanna from its source in Cooperstown, N.Y., until it empties into the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. The commission’s rulings are not negotiable.

The SRBC currently permits the borough to use, from its wells and the Ephrata Area Joint Authority, 292,000 gallons per day. Akron’s average use is about 250,000 gallons per day. With the town’s continued growth, and with the possible addition of an expansion of the Garden Spot Village complex —the former Maple Farms — the SRBC wants Akron to have more water available.

Bologa talked about the three different paths to more water. The preferred path would be to get it from EAJA. Borough manager Dan Guers said he believes EAJA would have enough water to supply Akron with as much as 150,000 more gallons per day. Becker Engineering’s water model is designed in part to answer the question of whether or not Akron’s existing system could handle that much more water coming through its EAJA connection.

A second alternative could be to get water through a connection with West Earl Township, a possibility that has been recognized but not studied at length.

The third alternative is to drill a well or wells to supplement the flow from the borough’s six current wells, a path that could cost from one to two million dollars.

Becker’s Mark Homan presented council with six different scenarios, each one a complicated compilation of numbers that council will have to take into account as it navigates its way to a solution that will meet SRBC requirements. No actions were taken at the September 30 meeting.

The water model was not a significant topic at council’s regular meeting on Mon., Oct. 12, at the borough hall. The first agenda item that night was a repositioning of the borough’s pension policy with regard to uniformed (police) and non-uniformed employees.

Uniformed employees are covered under a defined benefit plan, while the non-uniformed employees are covered under a defined contribution plan. Akron’s plans had last been updated in 2001. The finance committee is seeking approval from council for a new approach to asset allocations for both plans.

The new allocation formula would call for 58 percent of the pension funds to be invested in domestic stocks, 8 percent in international stocks, 37 percent in fixed income instruments, such as bonds, and 3 percent in cash. The international portion of the portfolio was increased and the cash was decreased from 5 percent to 3 percent. The lower cash reserve was sufficient to handle one-time and recurring payments, such as pension payouts. Council approved the new plan.

Council also approved a plan that would change the ownership of three parcels of land on North Ninth Street. Daryl Martin, who runs Lanco Tree Service out of his home at 39 North Ninth, will purchase land from his Ninth Street neighbors, Charlene and Gene Melocheck, and Roy and Margaret Eby. Jeff Bowlby of Trimble Surveyors, using a map of the three parcels, showed how Martin would assume ownership of a parcel of woodland not suitable for development. Martin would not be permitted to expand his tree service onto the additional land. After council approved the plan, the three property owners moved to a conference room to sign the paperwork that initiated the transfer.

Jim Summers, executive director of the Ephrata Recreation Center, made his annual appearance before council to ask for their continued support for the Rec’s programs, and for a $1 per citizen contribution to the Rec’s capital campaign.

Katrina and David Lefever, who live on South Ninth Street but whose property is actually in West Earl Township were at the meeting. In partnership with Akron resident John Williamson, the Lefevers own the old brick schoolhouse adjacent to their property. They would like to hook up to the borough’s sewer system. Council and solicitor K. L. Shirk, III, indicated that it was a doable idea if they could resolve easement and liability issues. When Katrina Lefever asked about also connecting to the borough’s water system, council president Tom Murray suggested that the group approach West Earl about water.

Ever since work began on the rail trail through the borough, there has been a drainage issue with the property at the end of Crest View Drive. Danielle Bentley, who lives in the home there with her husband and children, was at the meeting to inquire about the status of a project that would route drainage from the end of Crest View into the drainage channel that parallels the rail trail where it runs from Main Street to the borough line. There was some discussion about easement negotiations with the farmer whose land begins where Crest View ends. A drain pipe would have to run underground from the end of Crest View through the farmer’s field to the drainage channel, and the details of that arrangement have not been finalized.

In another rail trail matter, Borough Manager Dan Guers said he is working with other trail municipalities — Ephrata Borough, Ephrata Township and Warwick Township — on an intermunicipal agreement that would cover general trail issues.

Barbara McMinn, who chairs the borough’s annual New Year’s Eve shoe drop committee, informed council that Ephrata Recycling offered to donate an outsize burn barrel to contain a bonfire of used pallets for the celebration at the Broad Street playground. She said it’s about 2 feet high and maybe 14 feet in diameter. There was some discussion about the logistics of bringing something that size to the playground, and also about how and where to store it. McMinn also wondered if the borough would have space to store six filing cabinets containing the music of the Ephrata Concert Band, of which she is a board member and treasurer. She did not get an immediate answer.

Lions Club member Kay McEllhenney reminded council that the club had donated $500 to the borough some months ago to help repair a crumbling stream bank in the stream that runs through Roland Park. The park’s bike trail runs a foot or so from the edge of the stream at that point, and has been marked off with plastic fence for quite a while. Council President Tom Murray said he would look into the matter.

Street committee chair Justin Gehman reported that the Third Street repaving project had been completed, and that the borough’s share of the state’s liquid fuels tax fund for 2016 should be just over $102,000.

Council Treasurer Perry Lorah moved to finish up the 2015 budgeted donations with a $10,000 payment to the Akron Volunteer Fire Co., and $6,250 to the Ephrata Public Library. His motion was approved.

Sam Baughman, representing the borough planning commission, said the commission had met recently for the first time this year. They studied a list of issues to be addressed by the commission, and wanted council’s advice on how to prioritize the list.

Dick Wanner is a reporter for the Ephrata Review. He can be reached at rwanner.eph@lnpnews.com, or by phone at 717-419-4703.







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