About the wastewater system
LCA operates the wastewater system that serves 15 municipalities in western and central Lehigh County. Through a network of wastewater interceptors and pump stations, along with the help of gravity, the regional system transports wastewater to the City of Allentown for final treatment at the Kline’s Island Wastewater Treatment Plant.
LCA owns and operates a pre-treatment plant located in Fogelsville, which provides pre-treatment for industrial waste, prior to it heading to the City of Allentown for treatment as well.
Sanitary sewer overflows result in EPA Administrative Order
In 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an Administrative Order to all fourteen municipalities served by the regional sewer system in our area, including LCA, the City of Allentown, and all outlying municipalities that connect to the system. The order required all municipalities to make significant improvements to the sewer systems to eliminate sewer overflows, which can happen when rainwater, runoff from floods, melting snow, or other sources overwhelm the existing sewer system. A number of improvements were completed by LCA and the municipalities with required reporting to the EPA. The Administrative Order was lifted in March 2019. Oversight was returned to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP).
Due to the system issues and sewer overflows, PA DEP ordered a “537 Plan” to be developed by March 2025, covering the period through 2050. Pennsylvania Act 537 is the Sewage Facilities Act, which requires that all municipalities develop, revise, and implement Official Sewage Facility Plans (“Act 537 Plan” or simply “Official Plan”). PA DEP required that an “Interim 537 Plan” be completed to address the immediate period covering from 2021 to 2025.
The Interim 537 Plan details the region’s corrective action plan related to the hydraulic overload condition in 2019 after Pennsylvania received the most annual rainfall since data began being collected in 1895. As a result of the hydraulic overload condition, the Kline’s Island Sewer System (KISS) Signatories working group, with the assistance of ARRO Consulting, developed an Interim Plan for the period of 2021 to 2025.
The Interim 537 Plan, linked below, was approved on 6/25/21. The final plan, which will cover through 2050, is due to the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in March 2025.
Ongoing Preventive Maintenance
& System Improvements
LCA regularly works on preventive maintenance and system improvements. Our work includes (but is not limited to):
- Working with all the municipalities in our service area to develop strategies to reduce clear water leakage into our sewer system, called “Inflow and Infiltration,” which causes sewer system overflows during periods of heavy rain.
- Flow monitoring to determine where the leakage is coming from.
- Some communities in LCA’s service area are utilizing “smoke testing” to help find the source of sewer leaks. Download LCA’s Fact Sheet about Smoke Testing. You can also visit the Charleston Water System website to see a short YouTube video on smoke testing.
- Bolting down manholes and other manhole repairs to prevent rainwater from entering the system
- Camera / video taping of sewer lines to look for cracks and leaks
- Repairing cleanout caps
- Customer outreach and in-home inspections to find unauthorized connections, such as sump pumps and roof drains.