Brave authority receives help to get back on track

September 25, 2013

The Brave Water and Sewer Authority is getting some help from Wayne Township to resolve some of the issues the authority now faces, including its need to apply for a new discharge permit for its sewage treatment system.

The authority is now operating its sewage treatment system without a current discharge permit in violation of state law. The permit expired earlier this year and the authority has made no application to renew it, according to the state Department of Environmental Resources.

After learning about issues facing the authority, the township last month filed a petition with the Greene County Court asking the court to require the authority to make its books and accounts available for auditing.

The petition cited the lapsed sewage discharge permit, the authority’s failure to provide the township with an annual financial report and its failure to pay its monthly payment on a loan from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, PENNVEST.

Township solicitor Bill Hook said Wednesday that the authority voluntarily turned over its books and accounts to him on Friday and those documents have since been given to the township’s auditor, C. Robert Wright, to complete an audit.

Details of the authority’s financial situation, including its status regarding its PENNVEST loan payments, won’t be fully known until the audit is completed, Hook said.

The township supervisors also have authorized Hook to assist the authority in resolving its problems. The authority currently has neither a solicitor nor engineer.

Hook said he and the supervisors met with the authority board Tuesday night to discuss what has to be done to get the authority back on track.

The authority will continue to operate and customers will still receive water and have sewage service, he said. “People will have water and sewage in Brave, that’s the main thing,” Hook said. “The other issues will have to be resolved more slowly.”

The authority board Tuesday paid its bills and discussed hiring a solicitor and engineer.

It received the resignations of board members Jeff and Carolyn Hillberry.

Carolyn Hillberry, who previously served as authority secretary, said last month that the authority believed it had a valid discharge permit and she would check to make sure it was up to date on its PENNVEST payments. The authority didn’t have the money to keep a solicitor or engineer on retainer or make repairs that were needed at the sewage plant, she said.

The authority serves about 80 customers in Brave. It operates its own sewage treatment system and purchases treated water for distribution from the Morgantown, W.Va., Utilities Board.

Bob Niedbala worked as a general assignment reporter for the newspaper for 27 years in the Greene County bureau. He received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Pittsburgh.

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