BELLEFONTE A $9.5 million upgrade the borough's sewage treatment plant - to make it compliant with new Chesapeake Bay regulations - is expected to be completed this fall, well ahead of the November 2010 deadline.
Tom Smith, plant supervisor, updated council on the complex project during its work session Monday night.
He said the work is running slightly behind schedule, but should be completed either late this summer or early fall.
The sludge treatment tanks are "almost finished," Smith said, with completion of that area expected in July. The sludge digester, meanwhile, is about 64 percent complete and also should be done in July, with filters to meet the Chesapeake Bay requirements to be completed in early June and the replacement of all the pumps in the tunnels below the plant having a July 21 completion date.
Smith said the affluent pumps have all been taken out, with a temporary by-pass system now in place and a diesel back-up in case of an electrical outage.
"We're pretty much covered for all scenarios," he said, adding the new pumps should be in place by early June.
Also part of the massive project is a new computer system, which should be up and running by late August, Smith said.
To help save the borough some money, Smith said the plant has been able to sell salvaged metal for $7,700, with "still quite a bit to go."
Borough Manager Ralph Stewart said the borough is paying for the project through a $5 million PennWorks loan that carries a 2 percent interest rate over 20 years, along with a $2.4 million grant through the agency. The borough will also apply for a $4 million competitive H2O grant, funded through the taxpayers voting for $800 million to help fund sewer system upgrades throughout the state.
Councilman Paul DeCustanti urged the borough to hire a grant consultant to see what funding could be available through the $787 billion American Recover and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to help the nation's slumping economy.
"If we aren't looking at as many grants as we can, we may be missing out on a lot of them," he said, "I don't want us to be penny-wise and miss out on some good grants."
Residents have seen their sewer bills go up to help pay for the treatment plant project, now paying $74 a quarter, up from $63 a quarter last year. That rate, Stewart said, should continue to increase for the next year or two to help fund the upgrades.
The state Department of Environmental Protection is requiring all municipal sewage treatment plants to remove a certain percentage of nitrogen and phosphorus from the treated wastewater they release.