New multi-partner strategy emerges at Water and Sanitary Authority

Multi-million dollar mandatory requirements to clean up the Cheseapeake Bay, upgrade stormwater systems and recertify the levee are going to require a multi-partner remedy.

That is a certainty and what emerged Wednesday after an executive session held by the Williamsport Municipal Water and Sanitary Authority.

The sanitary authority board formally rejected a deal to pay the city $1 million to take ownership of two pump stations. It wasn’t a surprise because council’s public works committee was notified a week before.

However, what was new was the consensus of the board on how to manage the impending mandates put on the authority and city by the Environmental Protection Agency and state Department of Environmental Protection Agency to clean up the Chesapeake Bay by reducing nutrients entering the Susquehanna River watershed.

“The action (to reject the purchase of two pump stations at Arch and Basin streets) is not indicative of the board being unwilling to entertain a strategic role in the process of re-certifying our levee and associated appurtenances including the nine pump stations,” said Steven W. Cappelli, water authority chairman.

Rather, the decision reflects the board’s desire and intention to more fully engage county, corps and city to develop a more comprehensive financial and operational solution to both storm water management and flood protection, he said.

Cappelli, a former city mayor, councilman, and member of the state House of Representatives, serves as South Williamsport’s borough manager. He observed how stormwater management mandates must soon be met to comply with the Clean Water Law and how that and the levee recertification are “unquestionably interconnected and require an inter-governmental partnership to remedy.”

The sanitary authority anticipates direct talks with county, local and corps officials next week to advance the formation of this partnership, Cappelli said.

Voting 8-0 against accepting Mayor Gabriel J. Campana’s pump station purchase deal were: Cappelli; Eiderson Dean, sanitary authority chairman; Bill Ertel, Cindi Perry Rischar, William Nichols Sr., Thomas Marnon Jr., Johnny Meyers, and George Bierman. Gregory Zeitler and Andree Phillips were absent.

The county is the key partner in the strategy because the levee is not only a city problem, Campana said.