Wastewater Worries in Shenandoah

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SHENANDOAH -- The Department of Environmental Protection gave officials in Schuylkill County a list of 28 problems with the Shenandoah borough waste water treatment plant.

The plant serves both the borough of Shenandoah and West Mahanoy Township and was built back in the 1970s.

But the bigger problem may be: how can a community struggling to repair streets, parks, and blighted properties find money to fix the sewage system, too?

People packed borough hall in Shenandoah Monday, ready to voice their concerns about the aging waste water treatment plant.

DEP presented officials with a list of 28 problems that need to be fixed. A spokesperson for DEP says the agency spoke with borough officials last week and an investigation is underway.

Sewer board members say the problems with the plant range from leaking sludge to safety issues and they expect to be fined more than $20,000.

"They have set us up with some guidelines which we have to follow and we are developing a comprehensive plan to meet their guidelines," said Sewer Authority Chair Leo Pietkiewicz.

People at the meeting said they are worried about how much it will cost to fix the plant and how to come up with the cash.

“It's going to be super costly, kind of like the water authority, but we are in a deeper situation. Their plant is operational, ours is on the brink of going over," said sewer board member Robert Kulpowicz.

Kulpowicz said along with higher fees or taxes, other possibilities include a grant or even having an outside company take over.

David Lukashunas owns Lucky's Corner Deli & Kielbasi Shop just up the road from the plant.

"I think they are doing what they can with what they have. I believe the state needs to come in and help these small communities. Small towns are tapped out. You can't raise taxes any more than they are," said Lukashunas.

The future of the plant will be discussed at the next meeting of the sewer authority. Right now that meeting is scheduled for April 29.