The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has promised to get tough with the little borough of Bally over some very big sewer issues.
Like many other municipalities in the state, Bally has clay sewer pipes that are past their prime. On Tuesday night Borough Sewage Engineer, Thomas Unger of Systems Design Engineering, informed Bally officials they need to make plans to repair the borough's sewer system quickly or face fines.
Currently, Bally is under a moratorium imposed by the DEP that prohibits the borough from providing any sewer connections. Bally has a plan to spend $10,000 per year to fix its sewer infiltration, but DEP informed Unger and Borough Manager Leo Mutter that that is not enough.
When there is a heavy rainfall, Bally's sewers fill with storm water runoff which reportedly causes the sewer system to leak sewage into nearby streams.
In a three-month wet season, the borough's sewer plant has run at its capacity of 500,000 gallons a day. During a dry season the sewer plant processes approximately 150,000 gallons a day. The three-month 500,000 gallon a day capacity in a wet season has caused DEP to demand action, officials said.
The borough council asked its engineer to provide an estimate what it would cost to "model" the entire sewer system.
In the meantime, sewer lines will be televised to determine where there are cracks or broken pipes. Unger said some of the repairs can be done by applying a "sock" over cracked and leaking sewer lines. However, digging up and replacing sewer lines is very costly.
When asked what would happen if Bally does not have the money to repair its old leaky sewer system, Borough Solicitor Matt Doll explained that DEP does not care about the borough's financial situation. When a "consent and agreement order" is issued by DEP a municipality must make plans to fix its sewer leaks or face very heavy fines. Doll noted DEP will fine a municipality in the tens of thousands of dollars and seek collection of the fines in Commonwealth Court, not the Court of Common Pleas.
DEP does not want sewage leaking into the waters of the commonwealth. Where the money to repair the sewer problem will come from is anyone's guess, officials said.
Grants are unavailable and Bally is barely above the permitted average household income to borrow from Pennvest. The average household income to obtain a grant is $53,600. In Bally, the average household income is slightly above the limit at $55,390. To make matters worse and to add to the expense, Borough Engineer Unger also noted the sewer treatment plant must be upgraded.
On top of Bally's sewer woes, on June 14, Borough Manager Leo Mutter noticed the motor on Well #4 located on Wheeler Lane was not running. Mutter got a replacement motor and pump installed the same day.
Mutter noted the borough was almost out of water because the well depth was depleted to 8 feet from the bottom. It could not be determined what caused the motor on the well to fail. As a result, council was forced to purchase a new motor and well pump for $26,975. Council voted to purchase a spare motor and pump for $9,075, but it will order the spare next year to save some money.
Bally Borough Council voted to permit the Main Street Pub to place approximately five dining tables outside in mild weather. The business is in a mixed use zoning area. The business must monitor its patrons for noise and litter near the establishment.
It was announced that The Bally Hotel will hold its annual car show on July 27.
In other matters, Bally Police Department has begun bike patrols and Council appointed Matt Gehman to fill the council seat vacated by James Frank.