Washington, PA Observer-Reporter
11 November 2008
By Cara Host, staff writer
WAYNESBURG - The borough sewage treatment plant can no longer treat gas well water because of a state Department of Environmental Protection order, and the resulting drop in revenue could lead to an increase in property taxes.
Council approved a tentative budget of just over $1 million Monday that includes a tax increase of 1.5 mills. The tax increase will partially eliminate a shortfall of $136,700. Most of the deficit is because of the halt on treating waste water from natural gas wells.
Last month, DEP ordered all sewage treatment plants that discharge to the Monongahela River or its tributaries to drastically reduce the amount of waste water treated, in response to a report of contamination on the Mon.
The treatment plant had been treating a large amount of waste water, which is a byproduct of creating gas wells. The borough collected about $530,000 from the drilling companies so far this year.
"We don't know when they will let us have that back, so that cuts our revenue considerably," borough manager G. Edward Howard told council members.
Elevated levels of total dissolved solids were detected on the river. While is not considered a major health risk, DEP took steps to mitigate the contamination through restricting the treatment plants, since many are not able to eliminate the total dissolved solids before discharging the water.
Mike Dufalla, borough engineer, said plans to build a wastewater pretreatment tank at the plant could solve that problem, but that project is in the early stages and will probably take a year to complete. Plant officials and engineers are working on developing temporary measures to adequately treat the water so the plant can obtain approval from DEP to resume treating the wastewater.
If that happens, council could reduce the amount of the tax increase before adopting the budget next month, but as it stands now, the millage rate will increase from 7.5 to 9 mills. The tax increase will cost the owner of a $50,000 home $75 more in taxes next year. That owner paid $375 in borough property taxes this year, but he stands to pay $450 next year.
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