Inside Somerset

By: Benedict G. Vinzani Jr., Ph.D.
      Borough Manager

October 2013

QUESTION: HOW CAN I PROTECT MY WATER METER DURING THE WINTER MONTHS?

ANSWER: During the winter months, we ask that you take special care to protect your water meter from freezing.

This will not only help us by not having to send an employee to repair the frozen meter, but it is beneficial to you because you, as the  owner/tenant of the property, are responsible for paying for the frozen water meter and for the labor for repairing or replacing it.

Here are some tips on preventing damage caused by frozen meters – locate the meter in a place that is heated and out of the wind and weather (like a basement or crawl space).  If the meter or water lines are not in a properly heated area, wrap your meter and water lines with insulation and/or heat tapes (available at your local hardware store). In extreme cases of cold, let one of your facets run very slowly.  A slight increase in your water bill may be better than the costly task of replacing a frozen meter, water pipes, or damage to your property.

QUESTION: WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR REMOVING SNOW AND ICE FROM SIDEWALKS

ANSWER: Ordinance number 1146 requires all owners or occupants of property as tenants, fronting on any of the streets within the Borough of Somerset to keep the sidewalks in front of, or along said properties clear and free of snow and ice.  This is to help insure that pedestrians pass safely over the sidewalks.  The Police Department enforces this ordinance, which carries a fine of up to $300. 

QUESTION: AM I REQUIRED TO RECYCLE?  

ANSWER: In September of 1991, the Borough of Somerset began mandatory recycling, as required by act 101 of the Pennsylvania State Legislature. This meant that every residential property and every business in Somerset Borough needs to separate waste into recyclable and non-recyclable materials. Here are the major provisions of our recycling program:

  • Each residential owner or occupant is required to separate glass, colored glass, and aluminum cans, as well as leaf waste. Additionally each residential owner or occupant needs to authorize a Borough of Somerset licensed hauler/collector to regularly collect these recyclable materials.
  • The commercial, institutional and municipal establishments, in addition to separating clear glass, colored glass, aluminum cans and leaf waste, will require to separate high-grade office paper and corrugated paper. This requirement also applies to fairs and community events.
  • Any commercial, institutional and municipal establishment which has otherwise provided for the recycling of these materials may be exempted from the requirements of the recycling ordinance. To be exempted, such establishments must provide written documentation on an annual basis concerning the number of tons recycled. Forms are available at the manager's office.

Here are some suggestions for participating in any recycling program:

Set aside some storage space for your recyclables. This storage space doesn't have to be inside, but it should be clean and out of the rain because water and dirt in containers interfere with recycling.

If you don't have a special container for your recyclables, you can use any sturdy container from your house such as a cardboard box, crate or bucket.

Rinse recyclable beverage and food containers to help keep insects away.

If you collect a lot of recyclables, crush or flatten plastic bottles, aluminum cans and steel cans to save space. But if you don't use that many items, don't worry about crushing or flattening because the recyclers will do it with specialized machinery.

Do not crush glass bottles. The recyclers use machines to crush the glass themselves.

Try to buy items in containers that can be accepted by our recycling program and centers.

Another way to reduce household trash is by creating less trash in the first place, a process known as source reduction.

For more information regarding Somerset Borough’s Recycling Program, visit our website at www.somersetborough.com

QUESTION: I THINK MY BATHROOM TOILETS ARE LEAKING – IS THERE A WAY I CAN TELL FOR SURE?

ANSWER: Toilet tank leaks are almost undetectable to the naked eye, but they can add significantly to your water bill. A limited number of “home water saving kits” is available at Somerset Borough’s Water Office.  These kits can detect leaks in your bathroom toilet. These kits include two dye tablets and information concerning leak detection and water conservation.  They are available to customers of the Somerset Borough Water System.  Stop in and ask for one, or pick one up while paying your water bill.

QUESTION: WHAT DO I DO IF I SUSPECT SANITARY SEWER PROBLEMS

ANSWER: The following is the recommended procedure to use if you experience sanitary sewer problems: Between the hours of 8:00 am to 4:30 pm call the Somerset Borough Water/Sewer Office (443-2661) and describe the situation to our personnel.  If the problem should arise after normal working hours, the emergency number to call is 445-1525 (Somerset County Control) who will dispatch the appropriate Borough crew to check out the problem. The Borough personnel will then make a determination of whether it is a blocked sewer main or whether the service line going from the main to the home is blocked.  If it is a blocked sewer main, the Borough will promptly correct the problem. If it is a problem with the customer’s service line, the property owner will be so advised and can then make arrangements to correct the problem.

QUESTION: HOW DO WINTER VACATIONERS ARRANGE TO HAVE THEIR WATER SERVICE SHUT OFF

ANSWER: Water customers who wish to have their water service shut off for the winter should notify our water office two weeks prior to the day of the requested shutoff. This allows sufficient time to locate and reset the shutoff valve at the curb. This step is necessary to determine if the shutoff valve is functioning properly. A malfunctioning shut-off valve could cause internal plumbing damage if not taken care of before cold weather arrives.

The Borough has a fact sheet available that outlines the guidelines for disconnecting water/sewer services during extended periods of absence. Please call 443-2661 if you would like a copy, or stop in and pick up one while you are paying your water bill.

QUESTION: WHAT IS THE BOROUGH’S WINTER SNOW PLOWING POLICY

ANSWER: Due to the high costs of removing snow, it is important for the Borough to use its resources wisely and with cooperation from its residents to minimize the cost.  As we enter another winter season, Somerset Borough reminds property owners, tenants and contracted snow removers of the following:

  • It is unlawful to plow, deposit or blow snow into the streets.
  • Plow designs make it very difficult to plow roads without depositing snow along driveway entrances or sidewalks. Homeowners are reminded that they are responsible for access to their private driveways.  When possible, delay shoveling/plowing driveways until after the roads have been totally plowed. To help decrease the amount of snow re-deposited at a cleared driveway entrance, clear the shoulder area in advance of the driveway opening and deposit the shoveled or plowed snow away from the direction of the approaching Borough plows. We understand the inconvenience this presents, however the Borough does not remove "wind rows" of snow from driveway entrances.
  • The roadways are plowed in order of priority. Main roads are addressed first with special attention to steep hills and difficult intersections. Side roads and alleys are done next. Alleys may remain unplowed if the main roads require repeated plowing.
  • It is a safety hazard to residents and plow drivers when vehicles are parked along the road during heavy snowfall. Not only do parked vehicles reduce the sightline for pedestrians and oncoming vehicles, but they also force the plows to veer out of the travel lane. It would help our snow removal efforts if residents would remove vehicles from the roadway prior to a major snow/ice storm, and use available off-street parking.
  • A copy of Somerset Borough’s Snow Policy is available at the Municipal Building or by accessing our web site at www.somersetborough.com. You may also phone the Borough office at 443-2661, extension 400 and listen to the major features of our policy.

QUESTION: CAN LEAVES AND YARD WASTE BE BURNED OUTSIDE

ANSWER: No. Because grass fires can be easily caused by outside burning, the Borough of Somerset has discontinued allowing leaves and yard waste to be burned outside.

QUESTION: WHEN DOES THE BOROUGH COLLECT LEAVES

ANSWER: Under Pennsylvania’s Recycling Program, leaves must be separated from regular garbage.  Residents are reminded not to sweep leaves into the street.  This will result in a fine. The practice of burning leaves and yard waste is also prohibited. For those Borough residents wanting to dispose of their leaves, the Borough provides two separate weeks for collection of leaves. There was a collection during the week of October 21st and the next one is scheduled during the week of November 18th. Continue watching the Daily American Newspaper for information on the collection procedures. Stickers must be placed on each bag of leaves set out for collection and can be obtained at the Borough Building, 347 West Union Street. You may contact the Borough office at 443-2661 with any questions, or for additional information.  Bags containing garbage, or without stickers will not be collected. If you still have leaves after the collection dates, Borough residents may drop off properly stickered bags at the Public Works Garage at 644 South Franklin Avenue between the hours of 6:00 am and 2:30 pm Monday through Friday.

The borough has a fact sheet available that outlines the guidelines for leaf collection. You may also access this information on the homepage of the Somerset Borough web site at www.somersetborough.com.