Ribbon cut for new Mercer County wastewater treatment plant

The Neshannock Creek Watershed Joint Municipal Authority received funding from the the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the project

A $10 million sewer project is going online in Mercer County, expected to attract new business to the area of East Lackawannock Township.

FINDLEY TWP., Pa. (WYTV) – A $10 million sewer system project is going online in Mercer County, expected to attract new business to the area of East Lackawannock and Findley townships.

Monday morning, there was a ribbon cutting for the new $10 million facility that could one day serve 400 to 500 homes and businesses in the two townships, as well as part of Mercer. Currently, the area uses septic systems. The USDA found on-lot systems there had malfunction rates of 45 to 80 percent respectively.

It will serve more than 450 businesses and homes in East Lackawannock and Findley townships, which currently use septic systems.
It will serve more than 450 businesses and homes in East Lackawannock and Findley townships, which currently use septic systems.

The Neshannock Creek Watershed Joint Municipal Authority received funding from the the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the project. The county donated 12 acres of land for the facility to be built.

“This has actually been in the planning stages for about 30 years, to tell you the truth,” said former Mercer County Commissioner John Lechner.

Deborah Plant operates a farm and bed and breakfast in nearby Jackson Center. She says until recently, businesses near State Route 19 and Interstate 80 south of Mercer struggled with aging and failing septic systems.

“We lost McDonald’s. They moved out. We don’t have a McDonald’s in Mercer now because of sewers. They had to pay every day for somebody to dump their sewers,” she said.

Lechner said a study identified the interchange of  Route 19 and I-80 as number one for economic potential in the county.

“When we built this plant, we built it with a lot of excess capacity, because I know that this is going to become a corridor of commerce,” he said. “It’s going to be like Boardman. It’s going to be like the outlet mall area in 10 years.”

Homeowners and businesses will have to pay $3,000 for the tap-in fee, plus an additional $1,000 fee. Once it is in place, the average monthly bill for sewage is expected to be around $70.

Lechner said loans and grants were obtained from the state and USDA to not only pay for the new plant, but also to bring down the cost for customers.

“We allocated $175,000 to help the low to moderate income people with their tap-in fees, so we’ve tried to do everything we could to keep the expenses on the locals as low as we could.”

Now that there is a new sewage system in place, Mercer County hopes this could bring more business to the area.

“We have zoning in place to protect our homes, our residents, but the spin-off will be businesses will come here and we’ll get jobs. We need this in Mercer County. We need it all over the country, but we need it here,” Plant said.

So far, just three entities have tapped into new sewers — the county jail, Burger King and a campground.

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