Bethlehem to flush old sewer stations

Payments wouldn't start until construction is completed in two years, he added.

"It will only affect people who have sewer service, not those with a septic," said Cunningham. "Some of them [sewer stations] absolutely need it there will be long-term costs savings in doing this."

Proper planning now will prevent problems in the future, according to Charles Wickham, director of field operation for the town's Department of Public Works.

"You wouldn't believe what people flush down their toilets. It costs us big time in maintenance," said Wickham. "We've learned a lot the hard way, so with the new stations we're trying to put in a lot of thought before hand."

With the newer stations sewer pumps can be "swapped" within an hour, said Wickham, but with the older ones, "it's an all-day project."

Pointing to two silver trash cans at the top of a crate at the Hudson Avenue station, which was built in 1929 or 1930,Wickham joked, "You don't even want to know what's in there."

Cansler said the town needs to establish a program to replace the pumps every couple of years so they don't run into the problems the did in the 1970s when federal funding allowed them to build and replace several stations around town.

Now that the funding is gone, all of the pumps built then are all ready for repairs and replacement at the same time.

"The design life for these stations are about 20 or 30 years," Cansler said. "In a lot of cases now, we're just using a Band-Aid."

The town has only built two new stations in the past 20 years, according to Cansler, and town workers have to physically visit the older plants three times a week to inspect them, which is costly and inefficient if a problem occurs right after an inspection.

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