Alcosan's $3 billion Settlement:
Issues and Cost to You
You can look at their qualifications relative to a overseeing a $3 billion design and build effort
This document is mainly technical sewer design information. However, the very back has some interesting and highly useful maps. However, this document is probably not worth the 192 meg download unless you have a high speed connection.
System Inventory and Chacterization Report (Sept, 1995 Combined Sewer Overflow Program) 192meg
Sometime after October 2007 (the date of this initial analysis and site), these documents became no longer publicly available at ALCOSAN's web site. Fortunately this site saved backup copies but these lesser useful documents are not available for normal public download from this site.
You may download this key independent Third Party Review from this site! You should know that sometime after October 2007 (the date of this initial analysis and site), this highly competent and objective Third Party Review became no longer publicly available at ALCOSAN's web site. Fortunately this site saved a backup copy. Hopefully, their site will reinstate their copy for public access.
Mostly legalese with no costs included anywhere. The only points of interest in the Main Agreement is that "unanticipated or increased costs" are not a Force Majeure (get out) event. Worth reading are: Appendix J on creek cleanup and Appendix U on Cost Analysis.
This Third Party Review is an outside assessment of the $3 billion consent decree plan. It is a very well done, fairly readable, report by a team of three highly competent outside consulting engineering firms. It was paid for by Alcosan and initially hosted in a somewhat hard-to-find area of their web site. Section 6 of this Third Party Review estimates the cost impact on households (homeowners and renters). It quite correctly raises the question of serious unaffordability of even a $2 billion Alcosan consent decree. Indeed, this website's projection to a $3 billion consent expenditure concludes that the present average Alcosan bill for households (homeowners and renters) will increase from a present $300 to over $1,300 a year.
This document is worth skimming if for no other reason in that it forms the outline of the $3 billion of construction that Alcosan and your local municipality are required to undertake under the now-signed consent decree. However, there is little meat on these bones and no cost estimates for anything are presented. Much of this document is a technical description of existing and planned Alcosan endeavors. However, page 3-9 reports that Industrial Customers represent only 9.7 percent of the dry weather sewer flow! This belies a sometimes used Alcosan advisory to the effect that: 'Don't worry about the cost because the industrial customers will pay for a lot of this.'
Implementation of the Nine Minimum Controls (Sept, 1996 Combined Sewer Overflow Program) 21meg
Page 2-3 further notes: "The service area communities own, operate, and maintain their own collection systems, including the collection lines and trunk sewers, manholes, and catch basins. ALCOSAN operates, and maintains the interceptor sewers, CSO regulator structures, and the waste water treatment plant. Therefore, ALCOSAN only can implement the control technologies that relate to the in-system storage within its deep tunnel and shallow-cut interceptors. Each of the service area communities will implement the control technologies associated with the available in-system storage within their trunk sewers and catch basins." [underline and red added for emphasis]
Read what ALCOSAN says about their Consent Decree effort at the various public meetings. Also, read what were the replies and questions from the public attendee audience, as well as ALCOSAN's responses to audience statements and questions.
The first of the links is to an interesting www slide presentation that shows Alcosan historical rate history. It also explains how municipality and township sewer bill mark-ups work and what they are used pay for.
The second link is to an Administrative Consent Order agreement that is with the ACHD. It appears to be relative to the Alcosan $3 billion consent agreement. One of the more interesting parts is page 15 which states: "...the municipality shall ....participate with and cooperate with ALCOSAN in the development of the Wet Weather Plan..." It then goes on to discuss on page 16 establishing ALCOSAN's ability to take such flows; and then the development by the municipality of an options feasibility plan: "to construct sewage facilities necessary to retain, store, convey and treat sewage flows from the Municipality..." However, it is not particularly clear what happens after the plans are developed; and what the municipality's obligations are then. There is obviously a big difference between developing a plan and having to fund and construct what is in the plan.
Go to a Spreadsheet to see the Social Security impact calculations ...and... to see two alternate fee calculations:
annual $250 county-wide automobile registration
an impervious area tax on commercial and industrial property
[not on residential or apartments] only in combined sewer areas
that could help defer part of the $3 billion cost impact to homeowners and renters
This independent assessment --which did include conversations with ALCOSAN-- estimates that at bare minimum the cost increase to a homeowner will be $425 more per year due to the ALCOSAN $3.1 billion Consent Decree; the worst case, a $3,104 annual cost increase per homeowner. However, this $425 estimate does NOT INCLUDE any allowance for increased construction costs. Moreover, these homeowner costs are the average of a 'saw tooth' year-by-year cost impact coupled with a somewhat low residential use estimate.
Thus, the actual homeowner cost impact at the end of the ALCOSAN construction would be at least double these Allegheny County projections. Therefore, the resulting County's "Low Projection" case is actually consistent with the 'Alcosan $3 Billion Settlement' analysis on the Main Page of this site. While you are encouraged to read the Allegheny County report in full detail, you can download a special one-page alcosancost summary and handout of the Allegheny County homeowner cost increase analysis here at alcosancost.
Moreover, you can download a special MSExcel spreadsheet tool from here at alcosancost that allows for your own user analysis and modification. This special tool can also be previewed as a PDF. This tool also enables users to add related municipal construction and operating costs ...and... to make projections in either "then year" or "today's dollars". This spreadsheet tool confirms the projected homeowner cost increases using the analysis assumptions embedded the Allegheny County projection of future ALCOSAN costs and here at this alcosancost site.
(Review of the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority
Allegheny County and City of Pittsburgh April, 2009 1.9meg)
This 2012 Wet Weather Plan explains Alcosan and related municipality new construction needed to mitigate objectionable combined sewer Wet Weather overflows into rivers. Subject to EPA review and approval, the resulting construction is estimated to cost $1.9 billion in today's dollars and will reach a projected $2.8 billion when completed in 2026. At that point, today's $440 annual sewer bill for residential households (owners and renters) will reach $1,340 a year by 2027. The Public Comment period is now over and the Plan --along with its costs, projections, and consumer impact-- will be filed with the EPA at the end of January, 2013.
Alcosan Wet Weather Plan (September, 2012 Combined Sewer Overflow Program) The entire document is 1,250 pages and 128 meg.
Depending on your area of interest, certain pages in other sections will also be particularly useful. These are: Section 3 (Pages 3-9 to 3-10 fundamental basin profiles); Section 4 (pages 4-30 to 4-33 basin combined sewer and sanitary sewer overflows causing the Wet Weather issues), Section 6 (pages 6-38 to 6-43 population and income demographics); Section 7 (pages 7-25 to 7-34 household income and Alcosan operational projections); Section 9 (pages 9-7 to 9-10 construction cost estimating procedures); and, Section 10 (pages 10-6 to 10-7 detailed costs of new construction required by the Plan).
This overall Plan is quite extensive. At minimum you should read the Executive Summary (4.2 meg) and Section 11 (4.1 meg). Section 11 describes the overall Wet Weather Plan developed by Alcosan, outlines it's overall construction costs, and explains the billing and income impact on residential households (owners and renters).
A joint effort founded by Alcosan and the Allegheny County Health Department. Worth looking at the municipal Consent decrees on the linked page. However, these have no documents but only timelines. Funding for local demonstrations is around $7 million from state and federal funds which, while useful, is insignificant relative to the $3 billion. Does useful sewer organizational work between the communities. Has nice environmental site presentations and brochures, but offers no real data on the impact of the $3 billion on sewer rates to homeowners.
Worth looking at the back portion to see the large differences between various municipalities for the same residential water use.