READING, Pa. - The city of Reading is getting a major upgrade to its Waste Water Treatment Plant.
City officials picked up their shovels Wednesday for the groundbreaking of the first of many projects.
The plan includes upgrades to Fritz Island's flow meter piping and the 6th and Canal streets pumping station.
New piping will also be installed along the Schuylkill River by the Route 422 bypass.
The city's managing director, Carl Geffken, told 69 News that 4,000 feet of new piping will be put in.
"We'll be putting in the new force main that we're building up to the point where Fritz Island hits Angelica Creek, that's the first project we're doing," said Geffken.
"This is extremely important project for the entire area because we serve a total of thirteen municipalities and there's been some problems in the past," said Reading Mayor Tom McMahon.
Once the first project is complete, Geffken said, they will be working on replacing the 60-year-old force main piping which ruptured three times between September and October and leaked raw sewage into the Schuylkill River.
Crews told 69 News that Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Irene weakened the soil and a 600-foot section of pipe.
"We had identified that as one of the high priority items that needed to be replaced," said Geffken.
The total costs of these projects is about $226 million, down from the $400 million plus that was projected just over two years ago.
"The engineers and architects have looked at how to save money and do things more efficiently," said McMahon.
Funds for the projects came from the city's sewer fund, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, as well as other state grants worth over $6 million.
The projects are expected to be completed by the end of 2017.
Allentown, PA 18102