Akron Borough looks to keep clean water out of sanitary sewers

By on February 20, 2019

Heavy rains last fall dumped thousands of gallons of surface water into Akron’s sanitary sewer system.

Rainwater and groundwater from saturated soils are considered clean water, which should drain into the Cocalico Creek. Clean water that enters the sewer system becomes contaminated and needs to be treated as sewage. Akron has an agreement with the Ephrata sewage treatment plant number one, on Route 272, for 500,000 gallons per day of sewage. As discussed at the Akron Borough Council meeting Feb. 11, because of the inflow of surface water and infiltration of groundwater (I&I to people in the business), the borough exceeded the 500,000 gpd allotment. As a result, the town coffers were hit with a $32,422 penalty for the extra flow last year from October through December. Akron is still in a penalty phase, and will remain so until it achieves 30 consecutive days with daily flows of 500,000 gallons or less.

Rainwater, leaky water lines and blocked storm sewers pose daunting challenges to the borough’s public works department. Water main breaks — there were six in January — add to the problem. Borough employees take on most of the I&I work, and an outside firm is called on to regularly deploy video cameras through the water mains to spot leaks to plug and tree roots to remove.

Council member Nathan Imhoff wondered if it might be feasible to buy more capacity from the treatment plant, to allow the borough to pump, for example, 600,000 gallons per day instead of 500,000. Council president John Williamson said it was worth looking into, but said the treatment plant may also have to pay a penalty if its daily discharge of treated water into the Cocalico exceeds its daily allotment from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Meanwhile, council was in agreement that aggressive I&I work should continue in an effort to keep clean water out of the sanitary sewer system.
In other council news:
Members were presented with copies of proposed rules and regulations meant to govern the scheduling and conduct of events on the Warwick to Ephrata rail trail. The document was prepared by the Warwick Regional Recreation Commission, the de facto clearing house and administrator for trail events that cross one or more boundaries of the five municipalities that cooperated to build the trail.

Williamson said the presumption was that the governing bodies of the cooperating municipalities would sign off on the rules. Having just received the document, council members expressed no desire to act, and tabled the issue until their next work session on Feb. 25. Work sessions are public meetings scheduled on the fourth Monday of the month at 6:30 p.m. in borough hall.
Darryl Witmer, who chairs council’s community relations and special projects committee, announced a number of upcoming events:

• Akron Pride Day will be held Saturday, April 27, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Broad Street Park. Citizens who participate in this event are dispatched to different parts of town to pick up trash. They are given bags, safety vests and gloves, courtesy of PennDOT. Upon returning to the park, they will put their bags into a dumpster and feast on hot dogs, chips and bottled water.
• Doggie Day in the Park: This event, sponsored by the borough and the Pet Value store in Ephrata, will be held at Roland Park, Sunday, May 19, from 1 to 4 p.m. The schedule of events is still being developed. Police Chief Tom Zell urged Witmer to look into the need for health certificates for dogs participating in the event.
• Ephrata Rec Center day camps: Witmer said he had discussed the possibility of cooperating with the Rec on summer day camps. While nothing definite has been planned, Witmer said he and Jim Summers, the Rec’s executive director, had talked about soccer, fitness and softball day camps.

Council approved three appointments during the meeting. Christine Burkholder was appointed to another three-year term on the zoning hearing board. She has been a member of that board for the past 24 years. Former council member Earl Shirk was named to a five-year term on the borough planning commission. Chief Tom Zell was appointed to the borough’s pension committee, a position that has no term limit.

Dick Wanner is a correspondent for The Ephrata Review. 

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One Comment

  1. Mark B

    February 22, 2019 at 4:28 pm

    Installation of ‘low flow toilets’ would reduce input into the system. Europe offers toilets with 2 flush buttons – mini flush and big flush.
    Offering these to residents at a reduced price; requiring new construction or renovation upgrades to adopt these, would have a long term impact.

    A partial solution to prevent waste of fresh water is to use Trenchless Pipe Liner product. These are made of fiberglass fabric or HDPE. Many cities have relined their sewer systems by pulling the product through the existing systems, enter at each branch location (service line) and cutting opening for delivery. This reduces waste of fresh water as well as preventing other groundwater products from entering fresh water lines.

    For sanitary sewer a similar method is used which prevents entry of ground water and leakage of sewage into surrounding soil.

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