The Cornwall Authority is often asked similar questions by the customers. In an effort to inform the customers more about the Authority and their water & sewer, we have opted to create this informational brochure.
What is the difference between a Borough and an Authority? An Authority is an independent agent of the Commonwealth of PA, created by the Borough. The Borough appoints representatives to the Authority Board. An Authority can handle multiple functions, in this case it is for water and sewer. Authority’s can receive monies and finance water and sewer projects differently than a Borough can. The monies of the Borough and the Authority cannot be intermingled. Basically the entities are looked at as two separate non-profit agencies.
Where does the water come from? The water comes from The Christian E Siegrist Dam and Swatara Creek which are owned by the City of Lebanon Authority (CoLA). The sewage flows to CoLA’s wastewater treatment plant.
What chemicals does Cornwall add to the water? Cornwall boosts the chlorine residual through the two water pumping stations here in town.
Does my water have fluoride? Yes, the water is fluoridated at the CoLA water treatment facility. CoLA’s Annual Report shows the amounts.
Do I have hard water? The water is considered fairly soft water.
Why does my bill only show thousands of gallons? The meter in your house shows the water consumption by the gallons. The external reading device we use only shows when 1,000 gallons of water has passed through your internal meter. This is why the rates are per 1,000 gallons. We suggest, at least once a year you check your internal meter to make sure the dial is not moving when no water is being used. This is an easy way to find out early if you may have a leak situation so you can correct the problem before you receive the bill.
How are the water and sewer rates calculated? An professional engineer is contracted to calculate the rates. They take the cost of operating the Authority for each service and formulate flat and consumption rates to cover the cost. The reason there are so many rates is to easily track these various components and lower the customer’s bill where possible.
What is an EDU? EDU stands for Equivalent Dwelling Unit. An EDU equates to gallons of flow for either water or sewer for a typical household. Each home is one EDU. Additional EDU(s) are required depending upon the proposed building usage. Different usages have additional EDU(s) assigned to them. The flat rates are determined by the number of EDUs a property has assigned to it times the current rate.
What is a water or sewer tap and how are those rates figured? A tap is what it is called if a customer wants to run a service line to the building from the water or sewer main. The costs associated with the permit for this tap is done by a professional engineer. The law requires that the calculations be in compliance with Municipal Act 57. The recommendations are given to the Authority Board and the Board sets the rates which are usually a little less then what is recommended.
Are Cornwall Authority customers paying the cost for any of the new development? The straight answer is no. The water and sewer mains are laid at the expense of the developer. The developer also has to pay for any inspections on the mains, all appurtances, each water meter and associated reading device, and the developers pay tapping fees. Those costs are passed on to the new home buyers. These fees actually assist the Authority with paying off debt and infrastructure improvements.
Where does the Authority’s responsibility end? The Authority’s responsibility ends at the point of the Y on the sewer side. The Y is the place where the service lateral connects to the sewer main. On the water side, the Authority’s responsibility ends at the curb box. The Authority has been documenting the placement of curb boxes all over town. This location is beneficial for the Authority and the homeowner. The meters in your residence and business are also the property of the Authority. The meter should only be removed by the Authority staff.
What is the homeowner’s responsibility? The homeowner has responsibilities to maintain their water and/or sewer service. On the water side, the owner is responsible for the plumbing in the house, across the lawn up to the curb box. Abnormal wet areas in the yard can be a sign of a water leak on your service line. This area is yours to maintain and failure to do so adds to the unaccounted for water which every customer pays. On the sewer side, the lateral runs from your home to the sewer main. This line has a capped clean-out and vent. When the caps come off it is your responsibility to replace them. Sewer laterals uncapped allow rain water into the sewer system. Water running into the lateral is in Authority terms “Inflow and Infiltration” or I & I; in other words unbilled sewer flow payable to CoLA. Every customer pays for this I & I. Sewer vents should be kept clear – never cover a vent. Sewage fumes can make you sick. One of the biggest things that a customer can do is to limit the amount of grease that is flushed down the sink. Grease builds up over time and solidifies and will block the lateral (and can be costly to the homeowner) and eventually blocks the sewer system which everyone helps pay for.
Why does the Authority want my contact information? The Authority wants the ability to contact you should there be a water emergency. The fastest way to let you know an emergency exists is through the Rapid Response System. This system has phone numbers and/or email pre-programmed into it. Under certain emergencies an Authority must issue a Boil Water Advisory. If the Authority issues a warning of this nature you can receive detailed information on the website. Contacting customers personally is important to the Authority. Your contact information can be updated by downloading the form off the Authority website (www.cbma-pa.org) or by stopping by the office. This contact information is only shared with the Cornwall Borough Police who have the ability to utilize the Rapid Response System.
Why does my water pressure change? Water pressure can change slightly depending on if the pumps bringing the water into town are running or not. This will change pressure a few pounds of pressure. If the pressure is different within your home; clean out the aerators on the faucet. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) sets a standard of 25psi minimum in the water main. The Authority sets the minimum amount of pressure a little higher to 35psi. This is at the water main and does not take into account the decrease in pressure within your home or for a second floor.
Some things the Authority wants you to consider.
1. Lines that are hidden underground can easily be forgotten. So call us before you decide to place a garage or shed or even plant a tree. These lines are your responsibility and the Authority knows they are expense to repair should they be damaged. You should also remember to call 811 (Pa One Call) before you dig.
2. If you are thinking about putting an addition on your home or starting a business out of your residence, take a moment to call the Authority. Some additions or home occupancies require an additional EDU. The need for an EDU can be costly and is determined by the rules and regulations.
3. The Authority has a complete list of Planning and Zoning guidelines on the website – www.cornwall-pa.org
4. The Authority, like other municipalities, does a rate cost comparison. The rates charged in Cornwall are in the middle of the rate structures set by other local municipalities.
5. Currently the Authority has 26 miles of sewer mains, most of which were constructed in 1990, and 31 miles of water mains that have various ages as old as 60 years.
6. One of the things we ask residents to do is to be aware of any changes around you, say a puddle in the yard you have never seen before, or running water when it is not raining. The Authority has a small staff so we rely on the eyes of the residents who may see the same area each day, to inform us if something water related looks different. We appreciate these calls and will follow up on every lead which is to the benefit of the whole community.
7. The Authority does its best to maintain safe, clean drinking water. We encourage you to call the office if you ever encounter an odor or taste that would be out of the ordinary. We are happy to serve the community and make ever customer situation a priority.