Hanover water fees expected to jump
Sewer fees for Hanover Township residents are expected to increase to meet an anticipated future capital improvement.
The additional fees are needed to address a funding problem with the Allentown Wastewater Treatment Plant, which handles some of Hanover's water treatment.
At its meeting on Oct. 1, the Hanover Township Council addressed the problem. Almost five years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a mandate to Allentown to clean up its clear water infiltration in its system. The idea behind the mandate is that clear water does not need to be treated. By reducing the amount of clear water, usually rainwater, entering the system, the capacity of the treatment plant is increased. Moreover, the natural rainwater, when kept out of the treatment system, will refill aquifers feeding local water sources.
The Allentown treatment plant serves not only the city, but also six surrounding communities. Some communities took action to reduce the amount of rainwater getting into the treatment plant, but Allentown did not have the resources to implement the changes needed to comply with the mandate.
The Allentown plant has not been leased to the Lehigh County Authority and the new managers must comply with the mandate. Costs are expected to soar once action starts on the projects needed to reduce clear water infiltration.
The EPA mandate gave Allentown five years to comply, but little was done. The five-year span expires at the end of 2014. There is a possibility the costs will increase if the EPA elects to add penalties for non-compliance.
Hanover Township is served by three water utilities, Bethlehem Water, Allentown and Catasauqua. Neither Bethlehem nor Catasauqua are included in the mandate. The costs projected by the LCA are high enough that Hanover Township Engineer Fredrick Hay recommended sewer rates be raised across the board to start building a contingency fund for the township's portion of expected capital improvement costs.
The council passed an ordinance increasing the rate for water usage from $6.50 per 1,000 gallons to 7.50 per 1,000 gallons, effective Oct. 1. Property owners will see the increase on bills sent out in December.