A $21 million expansion of the Pine Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility will allow the site to increase capacity and make the facility more environmentally friendly.
The McCandless Township Sanitary Authority launched the expansion project in early April, said William Youngblood, director of MTSA. The authority hopes the expansion will be complete within two years, he said, although supply chain slowdowns may slightly delay the project’s completion.
The expansion includes the addition of six new 450,000 gallon process tanks. This will allow the facility to process an additional 1 million gallons of material per day, Youngblood said.
“It allows the county and the communities to grow in that area because if you can’t dispose of your trash, you can’t get a permit to build a building,” he said.
Site expansion and upgrades will be funded by rate increases for customers, starting with a 6% increase in May, he said. Youngblood said he expects another rate hike to come later as the project progresses, but he couldn’t estimate how much additional average customers would ultimately pay.
The project will also make the process more environmentally friendly with a $2 million ultraviolet light system. The ultraviolet light will allow the health authority to phase out their use of chlorine, keeping the chemical out of local streams and streams, while effectively killing germs and bacteria.
“We’re going to disinfect with ultraviolet light,” Youngblood said. “It kills everything with about a five second exposure to light. When the project is complete, there will be no chlorine left in the creek. The ultraviolet light will kill anything harmful to aquatic life in the From an environmental point of view, this will make it much cleaner for the receiving watercourses.
MTSA has implemented similar ultraviolet light systems at other facilities, he said, as part of an effort to reduce environmental impacts at their sites. While the technology is expensive, Youngblood said, it’s a worthwhile investment to ensure the authority is doing its part to protect waterways. The upgrades also ensure that the authority remains compliant with environmental regulations set by the Department of Environmental Protection, he said.
“We tried to be fiscally responsible, but also to be environmentally responsible,” he said. “I’m really interested in making sure we’re environmentally friendly for our customers.”
The Pine Creek facility serves about 55,000 people, according to Youngblood. The authority also budgets about $500,000 a year for maintenance and repair of sewer lines, Youngblood said.
McCandless’s population grew from 28,457 in 2010 to 29,698 in 2020, according to the U.S. Census.