LOCK HAVEN - Work is progressing at the site of the new sewage treatment plant, and City Council expects to hear an update at 7 p.m. July 16.
But it's already time to get with the state-mandated program.
Even before the walls of the new plant start to rise, the city is being held to the state's new, stricter standards of decreasing the amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus in the treated waste flow.
The city's latest renewal of its discharge permit sets limits on how much of each of those bionutrients may be released into Bald Eagle Creek this year and next.
When the new plant comes on line, the treated flow will be well under the limits.
Until then the city can compensate by buying "nutrient credits" from other municipalities, vendors or other entities that treats sewage so successfully they are exceeding their permit requirements, thus creating credits they can sell.
In October, the city will come to the end of one "water year," a period of 12 months during which the treated discharge has been evaluated for bionutrients. When the water year ends, the city will have to provide credits to cover its shortcomings.
In the first eight months of this water year, those shortcomings amounted to 48,000 pounds of nitrogen and 4,000 pounds of phosphorus, according to City Manager Richard W. Marcinkevage.
A high estimate indicates the city could need credits by October for 90,000 pounds of nitrogen and 10,000 pounds of phosphorus over the limit, he said.
The city has been talking with credit providers since 2010, he said, when quoted prices were $8.50 to $9 per pound. Today, as negotiations near their end for the 2012 deadline, the prices are only half that, he noted.
Council will vote on the final contracts for buying nutrient credits when negotiations are complete.
In a related matter, the owner of 181 Glenn Road plans to install a single-family small-flow sewage treatment facility, Marcinkevage reported. The mini-treatment plant even has an ultraviolet disinfecting system designed to treat waste so effectively it can be discharged back into the environment.
The mini-plant will be maintained by the private company that supplies it, and the city will inspect it to make sure it continues to work as planned. Escrow will be posted so that if it is not adequately maintained, the city can use the escrow fund to take care of it.
It may seem like a costly solution to sewage problems, the city manager said, but it is probably cheaper than paying to run the municipal sewer line to that property.
Council approved the concept for that parcel.