In 2010 the Township began a comprehensive, detailed evaluation of the sanitary sewer system, called an Act 537 Sewage Facilities Plan, to address current and future needs. Completed in 2013, it identified four upgrades to be implemented in phases and detailed the responsibilities and cost sharing among all communities involved. A new inter-municipality agreement followed.
Phase 1A and 1B, relining approximately 11,000 feet of Interceptor A between Rices Mill and Old York Roads, was completed in late 2013. Due to its location, relining the sewer pipe, rather than replacing it, was preferable to minimize disturbance to the system and the environment. In 2013 the Board of Commissioners also adopted an ordinance to regulate fats, oils and grease (FOG), targeting main producers such as restaurants, delis, schools and private clubs with commercial kitchens. FOG poses a significant threat to the sanitary sewer system by potentially creating blockages in sewer pipes.
Update - July 13, 2010
The morning downpour of over 3.5 inches of rain in approximately 2 hours resulted in significant road and creek flooding in Cheltenham Township. As a result of the flooding, the Township has had to pump sewage out of a manhole into the previously established containment pond in Ogontz Park in Elkins Park. Some of this discharge is filtering into the Tookany Creek. Everyone is advised to STAY OUT OF THE TOOKANY CREEK, as previously recommended by the Montgomery County Health Department. The Township continues to work with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection on the issue.
Update – June 28, 2010
Cheltenham Township officials announce the signing of a new agreement with the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), which clears the way for construction of an interim sewer bypass to prevent sewer surcharging in the Township. The interim sewer bypass will consist of a 24-inch diameter pipe running 16,300 feet generally along the Tookany Creek from the north end of Wall Park to the south end of Griffin Field. The high-density propylene pipe, with butt-welded seams to prevent leaking, will be secured to the ground with strap anchors. During high-flow periods, the interim bypass will automatically accommodate as much as half of the flow from the main sanitary sewer line to prevent surcharging incidents. In May, the Board of Commissioners awarded an emergency contract to construct the interim bypass, pending the new PWD agreement. The nearly $1.3 million cost will be covered by a 2008 bond issue. The Township has also applied for Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development grant for over $646,000 to help offset the cost. Construction is expected to begin in July and finish in September. All work will be conducted during normal business hours. In April, volume in the main sanitary sewer line receded to normal levels. Consequently, the controlled discharge system at Ogontz Field had not been used for over two months. However, the controlled discharge system will remain in place until the interim bypass is operational. The Township continues to work closely with DEP, which approved the interim bypass, to develop long-term solutions. Update - May 28, 2010 The Montgomery County Health Department (MCHD), in consultation with PA Department of Environmental Protection Water Quality Specialists, continues to recommend that Cheltenham Township residents and their pets refrain from drinking, bathing, swimming or wading in the Tookany Creek. In fact, MCHD does not endorse any such activity in the creeks, streams, and rivers throughout the county at any time. Natural waters are not disinfected like pool water. These waters may contain various bacteria, viruses and other pathogens that transmit communicable diseases. Such pathogens include E. coli, Giardia or Cryptosporidium. Additionally, ailments such as skin rashes and ear and eye infections have been associated with swimming in natural waters. For more information from MCHD, contact Kyle Schmeck, Director of the Division of Water Quality Management, at 610-278-5117, ext. 6725 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update - May 21, 2010
On May 19, 2010, the Cheltenham Township Board of Commissioners awarded an emergency contract for construction of a sanitary sewer bypass pump system to stop the surcharging experienced in Elkins Park.
The bypass would add a 24" companion line to the existing sanitary sewer system and capture excessive sewage during high-rain events. The bypass, which is approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, will provide several years of stability to the sanitary sewer system, while the Township pursues other permanent measures.
The cost of the nearly $1.3 million bypass system will be covered by a 2008 bond issue. However, construction is contingent upon the Township securing a new Wastewater Service Agreement with Philadelphia. Negotiations are currently underway.
Cheltenham Township officials report that the pressure in its sanitary sewer line has receded to near normal levels. As a result, the controlled discharge system at Ogontz Field in Elkins Park has not been used for over two weeks but will remain in place for the immediate future.
On April 9 and 10, the Township inspected about 1,000 feet of the sanitary sewer line between Shoemaker Road and Ogontz Field. The line was cleaned out, and no obstructions were found. The Township is monitoring the system on a daily basis and continues to work closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection on developing both interim and long-term solutions to the situation.
WEEKEND WORK SLATED Cheltenham Township officials report that the pressure in the sanitary sewer line that began overloading last week has gone down significantly over the last several days. The reduced pressure will allow the township to inspect the line beginning Friday, April 9 and continuing through the weekend. The township will bypass about 1,000 feet of the sanitary sewer line behind Shoemaker Road using temporary pipes located along Tookany Creek. The bypassed line will then be inspected by camera for any obstructions and cleaned out.
The township continues to work closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protect on devising solutions to the situation.
In consultation with the PADEP, the Township constructed a temporary clarification pond on Ogontz Field on April 6 - 7. The fenced 150' x 30' x 3' pond enables the Township to contain the sanitary sewer discharge, which is treated hourly with chlorine tablets, for a longer period of time.
Due to an extremely high water table generated by record-breaking snowfalls, combined with heavy spring rains, the Cheltenham Township sanitary sewer system has experienced unusual surcharging, an overloading of the system.
On April 2, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) directed the Township to reduce the pressure on the sanitary lines by conducting a controlled discharge of the sanitary sewer system over a small portion of Ogontz Field into the Tookany Creek in Elkins Park. This was done to accelerate the use of sanitary facilities in about six nearby homes that have had limited use of their facilities for several weeks.
Everyone is advised to stay out of Tookany Creek, due to the health hazard presented by the discharge. Although Township crews are working to filter and chlorinate the discharge, these measures will not adequately treat the creek water. The Township has posted over 500 signs along the creek between Church Road and Ashmead Road/Levick Street notifying the public to stay out of the creek. Pet owners are also advised to prevent pets from drinking from the creek.
In addition, the Township has been pumping out the sanitary lines using sewer trucks just above Shoemaker Road to help relieve the pressure. The sewer trucks discharge the sewage into other sections of the system that can handle the additional flow.
The Township and PADEP are monitoring the situation closely, including regularly testing the creek water. Officials are working together to formulate both short- and long-term solutions to remedy the problem.
Questions can be directed to Nancy K. Gibson, Cheltenham Township Public Information Officer, at 215-887-6200, ext. 230.
Cheltenham Township began construction of a bypass sewer system in Elkins Park in July, 2010. The bypass will address problems the Township sanitary sewer system has recently experienced during heavy rains and high water tables. Infiltration of water into the sewer system during such times has overloaded the system’s capacity, triggering isolated sewage surcharges around Shoemaker Road.
The Township will install an interim pumping system that will serve as a bypass for the primary interceptor sewer during heavy rain/high water conditions. If the primary interceptor becomes overloaded with additional “wet weather” flow, the bypass pumping system will automatically remove sewage flow from the overloaded interceptor and pump it to a section of the main sanitary sewer system that can accommodate the extra flow.
The bypass pumping system will consist of three “super quiet” portable pumps at an isolated area in Wall Park, plus more that 16,000 feet of 24-inch diameter, high-density plastic pipe secured above ground along the banks of the Tookany Creek between Wall Park and Tookany Parkway near Laurel Avenue.
Bypass equipment and material will be staged at five locations: Wall Park, Ogontz Field, Gimbel Field, Ashbourne Country Club near Tookany Parkway, and Tookany Park near Beryl Road starting on July 21. Installation will begin in Wall Park and proceed east along the north bank of the Tookany Creek. Completion is expected in September. All work will be conducted during normal business hours and will not disrupt any residential or commercial sewer service. The bypass will remain in place until permanent sewer rehabilitation projects have been completed, which may take 3 to 5 years.
The nearly $1.3 million construction cost will be covered by a 2008 bond issue. The Township has also applied for a Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development grant for over $646,000 to help offset the cost.
The Township will continue to work closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, which approved the interim bypass, to develop long-term solutions. For more information regarding the project, contact the Township’s Public Information Office at 215-887-6200, ext. 230.