The Lycoming County Water and Sewer Authority on Wednesday unanimously agreed to pay more than $729,000 in contractor invoices related to sewage treatment plant upgrades and a new administration building construction project.
The authority's biggest debate focused on spending something else - time.
The debate preceded a vote approving an agreement with Limestone Township allowing the authority to operate and maintain the township's public water system.
The agreement already had been approved by the township supervisors and municipal authority.
However, LCWSA member Richard Haas expressed concerns the agreement would strain the county authority's staff. Haas said the authority already has its hands full with other projects, notably the treatment plant and administration building projects.
Of particular concern is the condition of the system and amount of time it would take to learn about it and deal with its problems.
"Do we really know enough about the system for us to go forward with (the agreement)?" Haas said.
The system was built haphazardly and is suffering from decades of neglect, according to authority Executive Director Christine Weigle. Little, if any, maintenance has been performed on it in many years and few records are available regarding the location of water lines or specifications for the mechanical systems, she said.
Weigle agreed the system has issues, some of which are severe. The state Department of Environmental Protection recently cited the system for violations, she said. It even shut down during the summer, preventing some township residents from having water for several days.
The system also has seen odd, unexplained spikes in water use.
Weigle agreed dealing with the system is straining the organization.
While Haas said it may better if the township hires an engineer to study the system and make recommendations as to what needs to be done with it, Weigle advocated approving the agreement because the county authority is the best organization to do the job. She also has said the authority should assist the township simply because it is in dire need of help.
Authority Engineering Services Supervisor John Bickhart agreed that the authority is better equipped to handle the system's problems.
"The township dug their own hole," he said. "They won't be able to get out of that hole without the authority's help."
"If we don't do it, who will do it?" said Mary Bennardi, authority chairwoman.
Discussions also focused on how repairs and maintenance would be paid for without financially burdening system customers. Bickhart said grants, such as a Community Development Block Grant, could be sought to help pay for the work.
In other business, David Swisher, of Herbert, Rowland and Grubic Inc., reported the construction of water lines to the Fairfield Road-Choate Circle corridor in Fairfield Township to be under way.
A change order for $85,000 was approved by the authority so the project could be extended west on Brushy Ridge Road almost to the Montoursville Borough line.
Swisher said the extension was due to proposed development along the road that could result in additional customers to the authority's water system.
The authority agreed to amend a water purchase agreement with the Borough of Muncy. The original agreement calls for the borough to provide the authority with 20,000 gallons of water per day. The amendment increases the daily capacity to 80,000 gallons, according to Bickhart.
The authority also approved an operation and maintenance agreement with the Borough of DuBoistown. Although the authority originally agreed to operate and maintains the borough's sewage pump station, the new agreement expands that to include the entire collection and conveyance system.