About 147 Susquehanna Township households near the village of Emeigh will benefit from a $3.5 million sewer project that will keep raw sewage from overflowing onto the streets.

The project was made possible through a rare intermunicipal agreement among Susquehanna in northern Cambria County, Cherry Tree Borough and the Indiana County Municipal Service Authority.

The project’s line contractor, Monzo Construction, was given a notice to proceed last month from Mike Duffalo, executive director of the Indiana County authority.

“Hopefully, we'll have our project completed by next summer,” Duffalo said. All affected homes will be required to pay a $800 tap-in fee and will take on an estimated monthly sewer bill of $42.50.

“Emeigh was in a very serious situation,” Duffalo said. “They had renegade, wildcat sewers – meaning they connected homes and pipes into storm drains, which eventually led to nearby creeks and streams.

“When the storm drains block up, the sewage runs down the street,” he added. “You can’t expect the township to be responsible for something that wasn’t kosher to begin with.”

Low-income homeowners are encouraged to submit an application to the Redevelopment Authority of Cambria County for money to cover the tap-in fees.

It took about three years for the project to come together, Duffalo said. He added that the “project just made sense,” because the authority was already doing sewer work in nearby Cherry Tree.

“That’s when we began meeting with Susquehanna Township,” Duffalo said. “We did have to contact West Branch Sewer Authority in Northern Cambria to find out if they had plans, first.”

Duffalo said while the Northern Cambria authority would have liked to extend its own lines, that wasn’t financially feasible.

“A cost analysis showed it was more economical to take the Emeigh sewer lines into Cherry Tree’s treatment plant,” Duffalo explained. Construction of the new Cherry Tree sewage treatment plant was completed last year.

The project was financed through a combination of grants and low-interest PennVest loans.

Supervisor Joe Stanick Jr. supported the Emeigh project.

“It’s a good idea to keep sewage from running into the local creeks and streams,” Stanick said. “This project is trying to eliminate that.”

Stanick said his only concern was cost.

“These projects are a good idea if you can afford it and keep the cost down,” Stanick said. “We have a lot of people in Susquehanna Township with fixed incomes, and they can’t afford a high sewage bill with the high price of fuel.”

Duffalo was impressed with the cooperation between the municipalities and the Indiana authority, especially considering that they are divided by the Cambria-Indiana county line.

“It made sense for everybody,” Duffalo said. “Hopefully, we’ll have people tapping in next summer.”

Julie Benamati can be reached at 532-5050 or jbenamati@tribdem.com.

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