WELLSBORO - The municipal authority received an update on the state of its water and sewer systems from its engineer Alan Zeigler with Larson Design Group Tuesday, and there was good news and then there was not so good news.
According to Zeigler, the water coming out of Hamilton Lake is cleaner than the water coming out of Charleston Creek, which feeds into the reservoir used for the bulk of the borough's water supply.
The only problem is, in order to bypass that system, it would mean costly reconfiguration of the borough's system, and that probably isn't in the cards right now.
Zeigler presented an analysis of the borough's water system, comparing the two sources, and noted that "there are a couple things better with the lake as compared to the creek."
One of the things tested was turbidity or the amount of solids in the water, and according to Zeigler, the turbidity in the creek was 5.5, compared to the lake at 1.
Total coliform and fecal coliform bacteria also was higher in the creek versus the lake.
The good news is the problem is being corrected by chlorine, which is used in treating the borough's water supply. Zeigler said he should have results from a second set of samples he took Tuesday "to provide a better comparison" by January.
More good news could be that a new filtration system the authority hopes to have installed soon will result in even better water for the borough.
The authority agreed to allow borough Manager Daniel Strausser to advertize for bids to construct a building to house a new Pall Corporation, of Cortland, N.Y., filtration system, which Strausser said he expects to receive state Department of Environmental Protection approval for "any day now."
The system will treat 1.2 million gallons of water per day once it is fully operational, taking some of the pressure off the sand filters now used.
As for the sewer system, Zeigler said there was no need to do any expensive upgrades right now, despite the fact that the borough has had a nitrogen issue in the past couple of years.
The cost for nutrient credits this year was $7,700, much lower than last year, and according to Zeigler, "you could achieve moving to the level where you wouldn't need to buy nutrient credits."
"The price per credit should go down as there are more sewage treatment plants going in," he said.
Authority members also heard from state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources service forester Steve Hoover about forest land the authority owns and the condition it is in.
The inspection Hoover did over the summer was part of a random selection process by the U.S. Forest Service to "see how much bang for the buck they got from the program in the '90s."
The cursory review, he said, found that "several things were managed consistently with the forest management plan," Hoover said.
He did point out some thinning stands from timber harvesting operations and some natural mortality has contributed to gaps in the canopy.
"This allows additional daylight to reach the forest floor so shade tolerant species become very aggressive and outcompete the shade intolerant species. As the forest ages and declines, then there may be an issue with trying to regenerate the forest," Hoover said.
He said the problem could be easily resolved with some seedlings the authority should be receiving from the state Game Commission in the near future, which could be planted by volunteers or crew members.