Freeport officials hope to secure $ 11 million in PennVEST funds for sewage plant project


Freeport officials are seeking $ 11 million in funds from the Pennsylvania Investment Authority to help finance a new wastewater treatment plant.

The council unanimously adopted a resolution to this effect on Monday evening.

KLH Engineers’ Kevin Creagh said the deadline to apply is Wednesday and PennVEST officials could approve the application in December.

Creagh hopes most of the money will come in the form of grants, but the most likely scenario involves a low-interest 30-year loan.

The total estimated cost of the project, including construction, engineering and administration costs, is $ 16.9 million.

The borough is expected to acquire approximately $ 6 million more if PennVEST funding is approved.

Council President Clinton Warnick said he hoped funds would be available for Freeport in the federal infrastructure bill.

“The $ 11 million is just the limit to which PennVEST will potentially contribute in the form of loans and grants,” he said. “We’re going to have to take out another loan or get another grant. Some of the other avenues we’ve had have dried up since covid. … We cannot assume so much debt and pass it on to our fellow citizens. “

Borough officials spoke about the limits on passing costs on to residents in August.

The Federal Environmental Protection Agency establishes a benchmark, called the accessibility index, for the repayment of debt incurred by a community by carrying out such projects.

It is based on what users of the sewage system pay in rates – the main source of funds to pay off this debt. It is designed to keep communities from getting into debt, which places too great a financial burden on taxpayers.

The benchmark is 2% of a community’s median income. According to Creagh, Freeport’s median income is $ 42,250 per year. Two percent of that is $ 845.

Broken down into 12 monthly payments, that comes down to $ 70.42. This would include the current base rate of $ 35 for 2,000 gallons of wastewater.

This is the figure under which the board must remain.

The borough has been studying for years to have a new plant. This is the second phase of a long-term monitoring plan with the State Department of Environmental Protection.

The first phase involved moving an overflow pipe from the boat docks to Buffalo Creek, along with other overflow improvements.

These projects cost approximately $ 920,000 and were funded through a PennVEST loan.

The district’s 50-year-old wastewater treatment plant needs upgrading to comply with federal and state regulations.

It can process 350,000 gallons per day, while the proposed plant is designed for 600,000 gallons per day.

“It’s an environmental benefit,” Warnick said. “The current plant is not able to handle the flow of wastewater and water when it rains.

Craegh said it is more financially possible to build a new factory than it is to try to put the old one up to par. He said there are several improvements that come with building from scratch.

“The new plant will minimize the current situation of hydraulic overload from too much flow to the plant,” he said. “It will also disinfect using ultraviolet light, eliminating the need for chlorine. The reactor batch sequencing process also helps to meet the nitrogen and phosphorus nutrient release limits to Buffalo Creek. “

The design of the plant was completed late last year and the DEP issued permits between June and July.

The goal is to issue a call for tenders in the spring, award a contract next summer and complete construction by fall 2024.

“The timing of the start of the project will depend on what kind of funding we can secure to help cover the costs,” said Warnick. “We hope we can afford it, but we will need help.”

Michael DiVittorio is a writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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