— An aggressive $80 million sewer and water improvement project has begun in The Hideout development. While primarily benefitting the population of this four-season, private recreational community, the work is expected to improve water quality downstream to Lake Wallenpaupack and beyond.
Officials of Roamingwood Sewer & Water (RS&W) Association celebrated with a traditional groundbreaking ritual on July 19. Senator Lisa Baker, the three Wayne County Commissioners Brian Smith, Wendell Kay and Jonathan Fritz, and Anthony Herzog, aid to Congressman Tom Marino, joined them.
First developed in 1969, much of the water and sewer infrastructure- pipes and mains- are over 40 years old. Repairs and maintenance have taken place over the decades, but not to this scale. Leaks and storm water infiltration have become major issues. The aging mains and sewers have been failing at an accelerating rate. As was told in their 2012 Annual Report, "Continuing to patch and replace only selected segments of this piping as they fail is not feasible for the long term. All piping needs to be replaced with new piping that can serve for at least another 40 years."
John Egan, Chairman of RS&W, called this a true milestone, involving replacing all 42 miles of water mains and sewer lines. Planning, design and funding took over three and a half years. Egan said that stopping the infiltration will improve water quality through the watershed, which drains to Lake Wallenpaupack and eventually the Delaware River.
The project will be done in two phases. Bids have been awarded for the first phase which encompasses half The Hideout and is expected to be completed in 2015. The first phase bids total $38.5 million.
Funding for the first phase includes an approximately $20 million low interest (1%) loan from PennVEST, the state financing authority, a tax free $25 million bond (3.75% interest) and rate increases for Hideout sewer and water customers.
Hideout property owners are in the third year of a three-year set of rate increases- 15%, 10% and 10% - to help cover the payments of the loan and bond.
Phase two, Egan said, "will be as aggressive as funding allows."
Betty Sullivan, president of the RS&W Board, thanked the local legislators for their support, and the Hideout Property Owners Association (POA) Board for their cooperation. She said the two boards of directors work together for a common goal, the good of the people of The Hideout.
Page 2 of 3 - Rep. Edward Staback (retired) as well as Senator Baker supported RS&W in obtaining the loan package.
Senator Baker stated that the state legislature is unable by the state constitution, to provide public funds for a private entity. Because RS&W is joined with a public entity, the Southern Wayne County Water & Sewer Authority, RS&W was able to qualify for the state loan.
She noted that their loan was the largest in Pennsylvania for that round of funding.
Herzog commended RS&W for being proactive, in taking action before an environmental disaster developed. Each of the Commissioners brought their congratulations. Fritz reminded RS&W to "savor the blessings we have- born of cooperation and good intentions."
Jack Lennox, RS&W General Manager, said that a consulting firm was contracted to study the extent of the problems with the sewer and water system. Probes sent into the lines sent back video of the cracks.
"The results were staggering," Lennox said. They determined that 65 percent of the water is lost through leaks before reaching Hideout homes. In addition, 75 percent of the water reaching the treatment plant was coming from groundwater and runoff infiltrating the pipes.
A plan was developed and presented to the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). In lieu of being found in violation, RS&W then had to take corrective steps. DEP partnered with RS&W in ranking the critical need, giving higher financing priority.
Hideout residents have been urged to conserve water due to the current state of disrepair. As stated in the 2013 Annual report, "Although this is being addressed, system and well pumps are running continuously in a struggle to maintain reservoir levels, producing millions of gallons of water that are lost each month through evasive system leaks which are costing crews countless hours to locate and repair."
Lennox stated that the water loss reaches a critical stage in their supply on peak holiday weekends.
The contract also calls for 115 new fire hydrants throughout the Hideout community.
Page 3 of 3 - The Hideout serves over 3,200 homes with the development overlapping Salem and Lake Townships. The number of property owners and dependents considered equates to a population well over Honesdale Borough. RS&W is a separate entity from The Hideout POA.
Water for The Hideout is pumped from five wells. Approximately 576,000 gallons per day are pumped, disinfected and delivered to storage tanks, reservoirs and the distribution system supplying the Hideout community.
Quarterly sewer and water rates for 2013 are $269 for a developed lot and $172 for an undeveloped lot.
RS&W maintains a web site at www.rswanepa.com.
Information on The Hideout POA is found at www.hideoutassoc.com. Ed Latalladi is the new POA general manager.