The staff and board members of the Oxford Area Sewer Authority in Chester County, along with consulting engineer, RETTEW, hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new wastewater treatment plant, storage lagoon, and spray fields on Friday, Oct. 9.

“We have been very deliberate with our design choices, securing of funding, and timing of these upgrades to benefit the community and the environment,” said Ed Lennex, authority executive director. “Seeing it come to fruition is exciting, and we hope the community and environmental leaders see the improvements as a success.”

To meet future area needs, to help keep local waterways clean, and to positively impact the Chesapeake Bay, the authority built a new mechanical wastewater treatment plant, added new wastewater storage lagoon and expanded treated-water spray fields. Today, a 1.25 million-gallons-per-day activated sludge wastewater treatment plant is in operation. The new 39.4 million-gallon storage lagoon will help the agency store its treated water through the winter months, until it can be sprayed on local agricultural fields. The authority also added 63 acres of spray area to its existing spray disposal, preserving and enhancing the rural areas of the community by recharging the groundwater table.

The project costs totaled $32 million, including refinancing existing debt, purchasing land for the new spray fields, engineering, legal representation, construction, and activities related to securing loans and grants. Funding included a $27 million low-interest loan through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service program, as well as a $5 million grant through Pennsylvania’s H20PA grant program.

Because of the upgrades, many developers have been able to break ground on residential areas and existing businesses have been able to increase production levels and capacity. Previously, the area was burdened by a moratorium on new connections to the treatment plant, and therefore development had been halted. The updates have boosted the authority’s capacity by 66 percent, enabling it to treat an additional 400,000 gallons per day.

Attendees of the ribbon cutting heard from Percy Reynolds, authority chairman; Pennsylvania State Director of Rural Development, from the U. S. Department of Agriculture, Thomas P. Williams. Following the ribbon cutting, staff hosted tours.

“Environmental engineering projects like this help the community by protecting the environment and by furthering targeted development,” said Michele Braas, project engineer from RETTEW.

The Oxford Area Sewer Authority is a special-purpose unit of local government established under Pennsylvania’s Municipality Authorities Act to acquire, construct, improve, maintain and operate community sewage facilities and finance them. A regional provider formed in 1992, the authority serves the residents of Oxford Borough and the townships of East Nottingham, Lower Oxford and West Nottingham.