Mar 01, 2007

Philadelphia Borough Fails to Report Water Leak

The borough of Pottstown, Pa., failed to notify state, county and school officials of a water main break in December, a violation that could result in a fine up to $27,000.

According to The Mercury, local officials could reduce the fine by sending the borough to the municipal water system equivalent of traffic school.

On Dec. 18, the DEP issued violation notices against both the borough and the borough authority in regards to a water break. The violations stemmed from the fact that on Dec. 5, the Montgomery County Health Department learned that students and staff at West Pottsgrove Elementary School were sent home after the school had no water.

The water was shut off after borough employees worked on a116-year-old water line after a sinkhole was discovered. Only months prior to the sinkhole, the West Pottsgrove Township installed a new sewer line and re-paved it, but the borough did not to replace any of the 1890-era pipe.

By Monday, Dec. 4, the leak was thought to be repaired, but by the next day, the hole workers had dug to conduct the repair filled with water. The borough eventually had to replace a 15-foot section of the pipe.

The Mercury reports that the borough never notified DEP about the leak, as state rules require, and the agency found out through the health department. In addition, the violation notice charges that the borough did not notify water customers of a boil alert until the fifth day of the repair work. The borough also failed to comply with its own emergency response plan.

DEP officials have not yet set a fine against Pottstown. However, a memo indicated that the fine could be as high as $27,000.

The DEP violation notices were the second issued against the borough in as many months. On Nov. 14, the borough was cited for a similar failure to communicate with DEP.