PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The New Year is coming in with a big blow to your wallet.
The cost of treating sewage at the Allegheny County Sanitary Plant is going up -- way up.
Starting this week, your bill will increase by 17 percent. Add on another 11 percent next year. Then, tack on 11 percent more in 2016. Don't stop there. There will be another 11 percent increase 2017.
ALCOSAN says it needs to double its capacity to help clean up our rivers and streams.
"Sewage is going into the waterways, the law changed and this is the fix," said Nancy Barylak, of ALCOSAN. "This is the cost of getting things done."
But that's just the beginning. Under a Federal Consent Decree, you'll be hit with a double-whammy.
Just about every municipal water authority is implementing similar increases -- the total price tag is an estimated $5 billion, and virtually all will come out of your pocket.
"One hundred percent on the rate payer," said Barylak. "There's no state or federal money for this."
Here's the problem. Every time it rains, water seeps into our old cracked sewer lines and over burdens the system, and that means raw sewage spills into our rivers and streams.
Federal and state regulatory agencies say this is a health and environmental problem that must be fixed.
"We cannot put this put this off. We cannot kick this can up the road," said John Poister, of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
Under the decree, towns like Monroeville are using a sophisticated camera system to identify cracks and leaks in their sewage lines.
"Water gets into the system, and that's why we're out here every day, to find the problems and fix them," John Capor, of the Monroeville Municipal Authority, said.
Monroeville, like municipal authorities throughout Allegheny County, is starting to implement annual increases to replace or re-line its old sewer pipes. The cost is staggering.
"I'm going to say $15 to $20 million. And that's a big number. And that's on top of what we have to pay to ALCOSAN to treat the sewage," said Capor.
But folks throughout the county just don't seem aware or ready for this big new burden on the family budget.
It's called an unfunded mandate. Uncle Sam says this must be done, but isn't offering any money to pay for it, leaving it up to we the ratepayers to pay the fiddle.
ALCOSAN Increases Just The Beginning For The Big Fix (10/25/13)
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