Coopersburg sewer costs on the up and up…and up.


The August 12 Morning Call included an article entitled “Coopersburg Sewer Repair Price is High.”  

The problem is that stormwater (stuff not from the toilet) leaks into the municipal sewer lines which increases the flow in the lines and eats up Coopersburg’s limited (and expensive) treatment capacity to appropriately deal with wastewater (stuff from the toilet).  

Coopersburg residents have an interest in fixing the leak (“infiltration in-flow”) for two reasons…both of them economic.  First, as previously mentioned, treating wastewater is expensive. Limiting the stormwater (rainwater) that gets treated cuts costs (and thus rates, for residents).  Second, unless there is wastewater treatment capacity available in Coopersburg’s system, any growth or development in the Borough is effectively shut down (there’s nowhere for flushes from new businesses or residents to go…that would be quite unpleasant).  Stifled growth means no new tax (or connection fee) revenue for Coopersburg which, in turn, means that the cost of dealing with the leak is born by current residents (read: higher rates).  

BUT WAIT, YOU’RE SAYING DEVELOPMENT IS GOOD?…ISN’T “SMART GROWTH” JUST CODE FOR “NO GROWTH”?!  — In a word, NO. Encouraging the redevelopment in a city or borough (say, Coopersburg) as opposed to greenfield development in a rural/formerly rural township (say, well…no shortage of Lehigh Valley examples here) exemplifies much of what smart growth is about.  [How to share the financial costs and benefits of that development amongst municipalities is a topic for another day.] 

Making use of existing public infrastructure (i.e. sewers) and applying a “fix-it first” approach to dealing with that infrastructure is another central tenet of smart growth.  Fixing the leak in Coopersburg fits that bill.

Since the Morning Call’s comments section is always a source of thoughful, measured commentary, I think I’ll end with a quote from “Butthead” (and yes, there was an image of Bevis’s buddy accompanying the comment):  “Can’t we all just get along.  I don’t want my water/sewer bill to go up.”  

Butthead might be on to something.

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Posted on August 12, 2008, in Municipal Government, Public Infrastructure. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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