Sewer System Overflows

Updates on work LCA is doing to reduce sewer system leakage, overflows and treatment plant bypasses during rain events.
Visit the dedicated website for highlights on work happening in your community to help solve this regional problem.
June 25, 2018 – Regional Flow Management Strategy – Update to LCA Board
August 14, 2017EPA Administrative Order – Update 
November 11, 2016 – Summary of 11/9/16 City of Allentown meeting & public comments
November 9, 2016 – City of Allentown presentation on options to address wet-weather flows at the City wastewater treatment plant
July 11, 2016 – Public presentation of the region’s selected approach to becoming “Rainstorm Ready”

EPA Administrative Order regarding sewer systems

In 2009, the USEPA issued an Administrative Order to all the municipalities that are served by the regional sewer system in our area, including LCA’s portion. The order requires all municipalities to make significant improvements to the sewer systems to eliminate sewer overflows. Sewer overflows can happen when rainwater, runoff from floods, melting snow or other sources overwhelm the existing sewer system.

What are we doing?

The order requires LCA to provide regular reports on our progress. We’ve been working diligently to upgrade the sewer system since then, and our work has included (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 period 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.


What’s next?

There’s still much more to be done, and these upgrades and repairs are costly. LCA and the other municipalities named in EPA’s Administrative Order requested a time extension so we can keep focused on addressing the problem in a planned manner. If you review the alternatives currently under consideration (see link below, System-Wide Alternatives), you’ll see this is a system-wide problem that will be very costly to fix, and all communities must participate in the solution. Before decisions are made regarding these alternatives, municipalities and the public will have many opportunities to participate in conversations about the best path forward, including how to fund these expensive solutions.

Official Documents & Reports:

  1. EPA’s Administrative Order
  2. Western Lehigh Sewerage Partnership EPA Semi Annual Report -2017 (March 2018)
  3. Western Lehigh Sewerage Partnership PA DEP Annual Report -2017 (March 2018)
  4. Western Lehigh Sewerage Partnership EPA Semi Annual Report 07.2017 (July 2017)
  5. Request for Extension of EPA Administrative Order (Submitted to EPA on November 14, 2014)
  6. Administrative Order Extension on Consent – Extended to December 31, 2017 (Received February 11, 2016)
  7. LCA-Western Lehigh Sewerage Partnership 5-Year Report
  8. City of Allentown 5-Year Report
  9. Borough of Emmaus 5-Year Report
  10. Hanover Township 5-Year Report
  11. Salisbury Township 5-Year Report


Resources, Research & Presentations:

  1. Rainstorm Ready – Presentation of Selected Alternative & Cost Overview (July 2016)
  2. System-Wide Alternatives Analysis (maps & costs – November 2015)
  3. Abbreviations & Definitions (Reference guide for all the acronyms and terms used in the presentation and other documents)
  4. Download Overview Presentation to Learn More About Infiltration & Inflow 
  5. Public Presentation (Comprehensive update presented to the community on November 13, 2014)
  6. Q&A about Sewer Overflows and the Administrative Order (Compiled questions from our public outreach program)
  7. Public Meeting Agenda (Outline of material presented at the November 13, 2014 public meeting)