Friday, April 30, 2010

It Stinks - Part 2

Posted by parallel.

Yesterday there was a Haverford Zoning Board meeting to discuss the variance sought by RHM to build their giant sewage surge tank. It was chaired by Mr. Robert Kane, who has the patience of Job. The meeting ended well past midnight. I don’t think you could pay me enough to sit on that committee.

A few householders had their requests dispatched expertly first and then onto the main course. RHM tried to narrow the discussion to just the variance in height of the tank that they were seeking. This ignored the elephant in the room that there was real doubt about whether the surge tank was even the right solution and, in particular, where it should be sited. This should have been dealt with by the various planning committees rather than the Zoning Board, but the questions I had raised earlier were still unanswered. If need be, refresh your memory with the earlier summary piece “It Stinks,” now near the bottom of this blog page.

Today I sent this follow-up letter to Mr. Kane.
Dear Mr. Kane,

Further to yesterday’s meeting of the Zoning Board, I would like to add this follow-up for your Board’s deliberations about the proposed sewage surge tank.

At the planning meeting of October 26th 2009 RHM stated that the dry weather flow was 6.4 – 7.2 million gallons/day, rising to 9 – 15 million gallons/day when it was wet. At the time, I stated that Springfield’s engineer said they measured a wet flow rate of 13 – 21 million gallons/day. They can’t both be right and in view of the 21 million gallons/ day number that surfaced from RHM/Delcora last night, I believe RHM was wrong and deliberately misleading.

I’m not sure whether EPA or DEP is the appropriate authority to mandate a full solution. It will probably take a temporary solution with a surge tank to solve the immediate problem, but I would hate for it to be treated as a permanent solution and remove the incentive to replace the too-small & defective existing pipe-work. Leaving it until a major pipe burst will mean there is no satisfactory solution.
The cost for residents to divert waste water they now illegally add to the sewage system is perhaps more than the cost to fix the system itself. Where is a householder going to dispose of basement water except in the main drain? ( I don’t have this problem as my basement is dry and doesn’t even have a sump.)

We have been presented with inaccurate figures and false engineering statements. For example, RHM would not accept that from an engineering point of view it makes little difference where the surplus liquid is extracted. RHM claimed that it was necessary to take it from Merry Place and that if one sited a tank further up the system, in the municipal recycling facility, they would have to run a 6” pipe all the way down to Merry Place and site the diesel pump there. That is nonsense. Likewise their visual estimate of the volume of SSO and the sources of surface water ingress are worthless without proof.

This project can only be done satisfactorily in conjunction with the upstream & downstream facilities. What is the amount that Springfield can take without giving them problems? Springfield use TV to inspect their pipes too. What is the likely increase to the system requirements in even the next few years? We need an independent study by some competent authority such as Delcora, or one of their major contractors/engineering consultants, to get believable numbers, a list of the best options and the estimated costs for them.


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