PA Wastewater Facility Expansion Underway

MONDAY, MAY 9, 2022

A wastewater treatment facility in McCandless Township, Pennsylvania, broke ground last month for a $21 million expansion that will increase capacity and make processes more environmentally friendly.

The McCandless Township Sanitary Authority said that the Pine Creek wastewater treatment facility project is expected to be completed within two years. However, MTSA Director William Youngblood told the Tribune-Review that supply chain slowdowns may delay the project’s completion slightly.

Project Plans

According to The Trib Live, the expansion will include adding six new 450,000-gallon processing tanks, allowing the facility to handle an additional one million gallons of material a day. This increase and other upgrades will reportedly be funded by rate increases for customers, beginning with a 6% increase this month.

“It allows the county and the communities to grow in this region, because if you can’t dispose of your waste, you can’t get a permit to build a building,” he said. Youngblood added that he anticipates another jump in rates will come later as the project continues, but could not provide an estimate on how much customers will ultimately pay.

Additionally, a $2 million dollar ultraviolet light system will be installed to make the process more environmentally friendly. With the use of UV light, MTSA will be able to discontinue the use of chlorine, which will keep the chemical out of local waterways while still efficiently killing germs and bacteria.

“We’re going to disinfect with ultraviolet light,” Youngblood said. “It kills everything with about a five-second exposure to the light. There will be no more chlorine, when the project is done, going into the stream.

“The ultraviolet light will take out anything that is harmful to aquatic life in the streams. From an environmental standpoint, it will make it much cleaner for the receiving streams.”

Youngblood said that the authority has implemented similar UV light systems in other facilities. While the technology is pricey, he added, it’s a worthwhile investment in ensuring the authority is doing its part to protect waterways. These upgrades also reportedly ensure that it remains incompliance with environmental regulations from the Department of Environmental Protection.

“We’ve been trying to be fiscally responsible, but also to be environmentally responsible,” he said. “I’m really interested in making sure we’re environmentally responsible for our customers.”

Youngblood says that the Pine Creek facility services about 55,000 people. MTSA also reportedly budgets about $500,000 annually for sewer line maintenance and repairs.

Recent PA Water Regulation Proposal  

In March, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection proposed a new regulation to set maximum containment levels (MCLs) in drinking water for two forms of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, perfluorooctane sulfonic acid and perfluorooctanoic acid.

Currently, there are no state or federal MCLs for PFOA and PFOS. Per the Pennsylvania Safe Drinking Water Act, the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) can adopt MCLs or treatment technique requirements without federal standards.

The proposed state rule would set an MCL of 14 parts per trillion for PFOA and an MCL of 18 parts per trillion for PFOS, which are reportedly stricter limits compared to the Environmental Protection Agency’s lifetime Health Advisory Level of 70 parts per trillion for both substances combined.

Prior to proposing the rulemaking, the DEP completed the following steps:

  • Determined whether the proposed MCL is technically feasible, including researched new treatment technologies, determined any simultaneous compliance or regulation concerns and ensured sufficient lab capacity and capability to maintain a state lab accreditation program for PFOA/PFOS;
  • Conducted a cost to benefit analysis to support a statewide standard. A state MCL would apply to all PWSs. All systems would be required to conduct routine compliance monitoring. And if levels were found above a state MCL, the system would be required to take any and all actions needed to return to compliance. These potential compliance costs must be quantified; and
  • Developed the necessary justification for proposing a standard that is more stringent than EPA.

Additionally, the department conducted sampling of public water supplies that have elevated potential contamination, starting in May 2019 through 2020. Several locations, including military bases, fire training schools and sites, airports, landfills, manufacturing facilities and State Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act sites, the EPA Superfund sites and other known PFAS-contamination sites were tested.

The final results were released in June 2021. Of the 412 samples analyzed for PFOA, reportedly 112 (27%) resulted in detectable concentrations. In total, the department used results from 435 sampling sites.

According to the rule, the proposed MCLS will applied to all 3,117 water systems in the state. 1,905 of those systems are reportedly community water systems, serving 11.4 million residents, and 1,096 of these are nontransient noncommunity water systems that serve 507,000 people.

Once in effect, initial compliance monitoring will begin as follows:

  • For community and nontransient noncommunity water systems serving a population of greater than 350 persons and all bottled, vended, retail and bulk systems begins January 1, 2024; and
  • For community and nontransient noncommunity water systems serving a population of less than or equal to 350 persons begins January 1, 2025.

The proposed rule, published at the end of February in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, can be found here. The public comment period for the rule closed Wednesday, April 27.


Tagged categories: Contracts; Environmentally friendly; Expansion; Expansions; NA; North America; Ongoing projects; Program/Project Management; Sustainability; Wastewater Plants; Water/Wastewater

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