$134 million in grants and loans have been awarded for drinking water and wastewater projects statewide and more than $36 million of that is going to the city of McKeesport. The money will be used to double its capacity at its sewage treatment plant and keep wet weather discharge of waste from leaking into the Youghiogheny and Monongahela Rivers.
Joseph Rost, head of the McKeesport Municipal Authority says that their current system has been in place since 1976 and needs an upgrade. "When it rains heavy, what can't come down to our plant is permitted to go...directly into the river." Right now, the system can only handle 11.5 million gallons of water a day, so there are sewage and stormwater overflows going into the rivers. "Rather than separate all of the lines in the city sanitary sewers and storm sewers, it would be more cost effective to bring all of the flow down to the facility for treatment. In order to do that, we need to expand and be able to handle peak flows of up to 56 million gallons a day," says Rost. They plan on building four sequential batch reactors - each of which can treat up to nine million gallons of water a day. They are also anticipating treating the sewage water with ultraviolet light instead of chlorine. In addition, they are getting rid of their primary treatment units and replacing them with aerobic digestors to fully stabilize sludge before it goes into land fills.
McKeesport is not the only place in the county that is receiving money. Brackenridge Borough acquired a $3.6 million grant to rehabilitate about seven miles of sewer lines and manholes, and Etna Borough received a $550,220 loan to eliminate wet weather discharges from going into Pine Creek which empties into the Allegheny River.