HCA awaits decision about doubling Lehigh River allotment

Sam Galski, Standard-Speaker, Hazleton, Pa.
·3 min read

Feb. 24—Hazleton City Authority officials will learn next month whether they can double the daily allotment of water that the authority draws from Lehigh River to serve a growing customer base.

Delaware River Basin Commission is expected to vote March 10 on a request from the authority to increase the amount of water the authority draws from Lehigh River from 2.5 million gallons per day to 5 million gallons per day, HCA Executive Director Randy Cahalan said.

Cahalan shared the development with authority board members Wednesday, just a few days after the commission hosted a hearing to accept comments from the public about the request.

A representative from the commission told Cahalan that it received no comments about HCA's request.

The Lehigh River is one of several options that the authority is exploring.

Several large-scale industrial initiatives have been proposed in Hazle Twp. and Hazleton over the past few months, including a bottled beverage manufacturing facility that wants to use as much as 1.4 million gallons of water per day for a facility it wants to build in Hazle Twp.

The authority secured a $150,000 state grant to help pay for a study that will evaluate how it can add to its sources of raw water, its ability to get that water to its filtration plant and upgrades that would ensure the plant can handle increased capacity over the next 10 years.

The authority received responses to a request for proposals for the source evaluation, but Head of Engineering John Synoski said officials will have some questions for those firms as administrators continue their review.

HCA's filtration plant on Arthur Gardner Parkway currently receives water from 13 different sources, such as reservoirs, wells and streams.

The plant was built in 1993 and is rated at 10 million gallons per day but was designed with the potential to expand and increase daily output to 12.5 million gallons.

"We'll be looking forward to that vote," Cahalan said.

Board reorganizes

Meeting the needs of a growing customer base will be a priority of a reorganized authority board, Chairman John Keegan said.

"There is a big demand for water for some projects," Keegan said. "We're going to have to do a study to determine our future, actually, for capacity and infrastructure so we can properly prepare for the future needs for the entire area."

The authority board breezed through reorganization meetings, approving the appointments of Keegan along with Vice Chairman Robert Stefanovich, Secretary Pat Fay, Treasurer Michael DeCosmo and Assistant Secretary and Assistant Treasurer Joseph Zeller III.

The appointments apply to both HCA's water department and industrial division, which are overseen by the same board of directors. The latter of the entities oversees garbage collection in Hazleton.

The board retained Schumacher Engineering as well as both of its solicitors, Chris Slusser and Ned McNelis. The solicitors will receive a regular rate of $105 per hour, which increases to $135 per hour for handling litigation.

The board also agreed to change its meeting schedule.

Weekly board meetings will be held Thursdays at 6:30 p.m.

Contact the writer: sgalski@standardspeaker.com; 570-501-3586