MUB to Dump Sewage in River

During repair of interceptor along rail-trail

Morgantown Dominion Post
1 June 2011
By Alex Lang

To fix an interceptor damaged by a slip along the rail-trail, the Morgantown Utility Board (MUB) will discharge raw sewage directly into the Monongahela River one day this week.

Senior Engineer Scott Copen said the discharge is necessary for crews to work on a bypass for the damaged interceptor. He said once the bypass is installed they shouldn’t have to discharge into the river again.

MUB has done this a few times in the past, Copen said.

“We try not to do this type of thing any more than necessary,” he said.

The damage to the interceptor occurred when part of the railtrail slipped. Copen said they have done testing and found evidence of previous slips at the site. There is no evidence the slip was caused by their previous work in the area.

The discharge will be controlled and only occur for a short period of time, Copen wrote in an email. He compared it to a medical procedure where some degree of intentional pain is needed to prevent worse pain if untreated.

The temporary bypass system costs about $100,000, Copen wrote.

Copen said he had no idea how many gallons would flow into the river, but MUB will monitor the water.

The discharge will occur sometime over the next couple of days, but exactly when will depend on the weather, Copen said. Customers’ service will not be affected.

The state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) approved the plan, according to a letter from the organization. MUB must notify the department 24 hours before they start work so the DEP can have personnel observe the activities.

MUB must use all means necessary to minimize the water-quality impacts that the discharge may cause, according to DEP’s approval letter.

Upper Monongahela River Association Vice President Barry Pallay called for MUB to monitor and to make sure it is using practical and feasible measures to fix the problem. Pallay said he assumes MUB is following standard practices.

MUB should also partner with the state’s Division of Natural Resources to make sure aquatic life is protected, Pallay said.