Township seeks sewer talkswith Pennington

Targeted areas include Morningside Drive, Timberlane, Penn View Heights, Ingleside and the Tree Streets.

By: John Tredrea
   Hopewell Township has asked Pennington to consider the possibility of allowing use of existing borough sewer lines to convey wastewater from a group of township neighborhoods surrounding the borough to the Pennington sewage treatment plant of the Stony Brook Regional Sewerage Authority (SBRSA).
   None of the neighborhoods, which include a few hundred houses, has public sewers now. Accompanied by Township Administrator Christine Smeltzer, Township Engineer Paul Pogorzelski told council Monday night that the township is considering trying to bring sewer service to the neighborhoods, which have a history of septic problems, he said.
   The neighborhoods include Morningside Drive, Timberlane, Penn View Heights, Ingleside and the Tree Streets. Mr. Pogorzelski’s current estimate for connecting all of them to the SBRSA plant in a new regional wastewater collection system is $28,420 per house, plus $1,027 in annual operating costs. Ms. Smeltzer said the township’s current thinking is that the connection costs would be paid by homeowners via a special assessment rather than paying for them out of the townshipwide tax base.
   The township engineer’s cost estimate is based on circumnavigating the mile-square borough with new sewer lines, he said. If the borough agreed to allow the township to use existing borough sewer lines to send wastewater to the treatment plant, the cost per house could be reduced substantially, he said. "We feel that sharing infrastructure could get the costs way down," he said.
   Mr. Pogorzelski could not give a dollar estimate of how much the costs might come down. He said he’d have to discuss the project in depth with borough officials first.
   Ms. Smeltzer noted that the township recently has surveyed residents of the neighborhoods, to see if they want sewers. "Over 50 percent of the residents responded," she said. "Fifty to 70 percent said they were interested in sewers, but cost is a factor," she said.
   That being the case, Mr. Pogorzelski said, it was only logical for the township to approach the borough about the possibility of sharing existing sewers lines, since that could lower the cost, before pursuing the matter further with residents who could get sewers.
   The Stony Brook treatment plant would have to be expanded to handle the wastewater from the township neighborhoods near the borough. Mr. Pogorzelski and other area officials have estimated it would take five to seven years to complete the expansion project.
   Pennington installed a public sewer system in the mid-1970s. Most of the 58-square-mile township is still on private wells and septic systems. The major exception is the 1,300-unit Brandon Farms development, which sends its wastewater to the Ewing-Lawrence Sewerage Authority (ELSA).
   The neighborhoods surrounding the borough that are being considered for sewer service are comprised mainly of houses on closely spaced small lots. A seasonal high water table and poor soil percolation in the neighborhoods are other factors contributing to the history of septic problems there, officials have said.