As a municipality within the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority’s service area, Mt. Lebanon is under a consent order to contribute to long-term planning for the region’s sewer infrastructure.
Each year, Mt. Lebanon takes measures to inspect, rectify problems and take preventive measures along roughly 15 miles of sewers, representing 10% of the total length of the local system.
During the municipal commission’s Jan. 12 discussion session, representatives of Gateway Engineers presented information on contracts for relevant services to be awarded for 2021. Each of the contracts represents a renewal of agreements reached in previous years.
Gateway’s Michael Albright said such arrangements serve to reduce administrative costs while ensuring consistency of performance “and also to incentivize contractors to provide better pricing, due to the potential for multiple years of work,” he said. “So really, this is more of an efficient solution to managing a contract.”
Among the 2021 contracts, the largest is with Niando Construction of Penn Hills for point repair in the local sanitary and storm sewers, plus installation of new manholes and extrication of buried manholes. The cost of Niando performing such work for the third consecutive year is more than $850,000.
Dan Deiseroth, Gateway president, said a substantial amount of repairs already have been made during more than a decade of work on the system.
“We’re down to a point now where they’re in precarious locations,” he said about problem spots. “They could be near somebody’s swimming pool. They could be under a wall.”
Once repairs are made, the standard practice is to install lining as a measure to seal the system against leaks.
To investigate the status of sanitary and storm sewers, the municipality is contracting with Roto Rooter, also for its third year, to take video of a portion for assessment. With cleaning services included, the cost this year is $238,060, according to the terms of previously awarded contracts.
After Roto Rooter performs an initial assessment, the video is sent to Gateway for review. The municipality also receives a copy, allowing the public works department to reference it when problems are reported.
“It’s actually created a lot of efficiencies for us from a work standpoint,” municipal manager Keith McGill said.
For manhole rehabilitation and application of protective coatings to seal against corrosion, groundwater infiltration and exfiltration of sewage, a contract with PIM Corp. is up for its second renewal, at $311,735 for 2021.
Another contract is for chemical root treatment, with Duke’s Root Control, for $84,830. The company uses an herbicide registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “that kills the roots within the sewers without harming the trees above ground,” Albright said.
Finally, maintenance of backwater valves, installed on private properties to direct sanitary sewer discharge away from homes, is to be performed by Roto Rooter at a cost of $16,725.
“In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have these,” Deiseroth said.
“But until the infiltration is taken out of the system, and the chance for a backup exists, these are good insurance for the municipality. It costs money to maintain them, but we’re not paying insurance money to clean up people’s basements.”