Cheltenham Township begins an eight-year program to conduct a community-wide evaluation of its sanitary sewer system the week of January 30, 2017. Starting in the Cheltenham Village and Glenside neighborhoods, the evaluation will include televising all Township-owned sanitary sewer mains, plus cleaning and joint repairs where indicated. The goal is to identify and eliminate sources of extraneous water entering the system, which is nearly 100 years old in sections. This excess water strains the capacity of the sanitary sewer system, which increases the costs for this vital service and can cause sewer overflows that damage property and the environment.
In December 2016, the Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the adoption of Ordinance#2336-16 regulating private sanitary sewer laterals and prohibiting the introduction of extraneous water into the sanitary sewer system. It is the first part of a two part program. This ordinance authorizes the Township to evaluate sewer laterals. The second part of the program will cover repairing and/or replacing damaged or defective laterals. The Township will conduct community meetings when ready to move forward with the second part of the program, anticipated sometime in 2017.
In late 2016 the Township awarded two contracts that will include the evaluation of private sewer laterals to the extent accessible to the contractors -- in addition to evaluation of the public sewer mains -- in both the Cheltenham Village and Glenside areas beginning in early 2017. Property owners in these areas (residential, commercial and institutional) will receive notification of the pending evaluations.
At the Public Works Committee meeting on December 7, 2016, Cheltenham Township officials will consider an ordinance to allow the Township to begin a systemic evaluation of its sanitary sewer system. The evaluation, which will start in the Cheltenham Village and Glenside neighborhoods beginning in early 2017, will assess the physical conditions of both public sewer mains as well as private laterals, to the extent possible. The data derived from these evaluations will help officials devise a second ordinance which will address necessary repairs of the laterals. Cheltenham officials expect to present a draft of the second ordinance on sewer lateral repairs to the public at a special community meeting in spring 2017.
The Public Works Committee meeting will be held on December 7, 2016, at Curtis Hall, 1250 W. Church Road in Wyncote, beginning at 7:30 p.m. If recommended, the full Board of Commissioners could adopt the ordinance on December 21, 2016, also at Curtis Hall beginning at 7:30 p.m. A draft of the first sewer ordinance is available here.
Community Meeting on September 28, 2016 at the Cheltenham High School Little Theater
In response to a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) order, Cheltenham Township officials are working diligently to explore multiple approaches to resolve defects in sanitary sewer mains and laterals.
The issues are the direct result of an aging infrastructure, with some sections of the approximately 120 miles of sewer collection system approaching the century mark. Over time, pipes can crack or break, joints can separate, and tree roots can cause blockages. Mortar in brick manholes also can deteriorate, and rims can be dislodged.
When these conditions occur, clean rain and ground water sometimes can enter the sanitary sewage system, inflating the cost of treating sewage or overwhelming the system. If the problem is left uncorrected, sewage can back up into homes and businesses.
The Township is exploring several options to resolve the situation. Initially, we were focusing our efforts on relining and replacement projects in the sewer mains. However, the DEP is pressing the Township to place priority on private laterals – the small, privately owned lines that connect homes, businesses and institutions to the sanitary sewer mains.
So in May 2016, the Public Works Committee reviewed a draft ordinance designed to establish an inspection and repair requirement for sewer laterals. There are several possible approaches for such an ordinance:
First, please know that we are very sensitive to the concerns of our residents regarding this matter. It is important to note that property owners have always been responsible for the maintenance and repair of their sewer laterals. This is not a new requirement that is being instituted with the proposed ordinance.
Second – and contrary to information that has been presented in the media – the Township has been implementing corrective action to protect and repair the vital infrastructure since 2005. Prior to crafting an action plan, the Township employed contractors to inspect the main sanitary sewer lines, using a device with a small camera designed to find defects. The device was also able to immediately grout small cracks. Larger problems in the infrastructure were noted for later repair.
Additionally, the Township launched a sump pump inspection campaign to locate and remove any sump pumps that were illegally connected to the sanitary sewer from homes, businesses or institutions.
Efforts were again increased in 2010 following the heavy spring rains and high water table that was created by the winter snow melt, which when combined, overwhelmed the system. It was at this time that the Township was fined by the DEP. Soon afterwards, a sanitary sewer bypass, known locally as “the black pipe,” was installed as a temporary solution while more permanent repairs were being completed.
In both 2010 and 2012, the Township also presented the DEP with updated, corrective action plans that were developed with the assistance of BCM Engineers. The plans included ordinances and the requirement to rehabilitate and replace some private laterals that connect homes, businesses and other structures to the sanitary sewer system.
From 2013 until now, Arro Consulting Inc. worked to complete a comprehensive draft of an Act 537 Sewage Facilities Plan, which will establish waste planning for the community’s current and future needs.
The Township has also completed the first phase of major upgrades to Sewer Interceptor A (a sewer main) by lining 11,000 linear feet between Rices Mill and Old York Roads. Our next step will be to replace 3.75 miles of Interceptor A between Old York Road and Central Avenue. This work originally was scheduled for this past spring but had to be postponed when the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission determined an archaeological and geomorphic study of the area was required before a water encroachment permit could be issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. While the study unearthed a few pre-contact Native American relics, the discovery will not derail the project, which is now expected to begin in late fall or early 2017.
The Township is working diligently to review all options and to resolve the issue in a manner that is both fiscally responsible and beneficial to the whole community, including the possible sale of the sanitary sewer system outright to an independent sewer authority. Please know that no decisions will be made in haste without the opportunity for input from our residents.
For that reason, the Township held a special Community Meeting dedicated solely to the issue of the inspection and repair of sewer laterals on Wednesday, September 28, 2016, at 7:00 p.m. at CHELTENHAM HIGH SCHOOL (Little Theater). 500 Rices Mill Road in Wyncote.
Township DELAYS REVIEW OF SEWER LATERAL INSPECTION PROGRAM ORDINANCE
In response to feedback and concerns from residents, Cheltenham Township officials have postponed consideration of a proposed ordinance regarding a township-wide inspection program of its sanitary sewer system including sewer laterals.
Presented AND TABLED at the Public Works Committee meeting in May 2016: Proposed Ordinance on regulating private sanitary sewer lateral maintenance, correction, replacement and repair