(The Center Square) – Pennsylvania will soon have nearly $200 million to spend on water projects that will replace lead pipes, improve drinking water and expand wastewater treatment services.
The money comes from multiple state and federal sources, including Marcellus Legacy funds, recycled loan payments from government programs and the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021.
“Thanks to our federal partners and the Biden Administration, we are making a major investment in Pennsylvanians’ communities, ensuring our residents have access to clean water and uphold their constitutional rights here in the Commonwealth,” Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro said in his first Tenure said in a press release. “It is the fundamental responsibility of government to ensure that Pennsylvanians have access to safe infrastructure. My administration will continue to lead the way in protecting public health and the environment across the Commonwealth.”
PENNVEST, the infrastructure investment authority, will manage $194 million for 28 projects to “not only modernize but also future-proof Pennsylvania’s water infrastructure to ensure it operates efficiently and effectively and delivers clean water to Pennsylvanians.” , says the press release.
The largest project is a $37 million loan in Philadelphia to fix leakage problems, increase hydraulic capacity and reduce maintenance. In Allegheny County, a $14 million grant and $18 million loan will be used to replace about 2,600 lead pipes to prevent high lead pollution and conserve water. And in Potter County, a $9.5 million grant and a $6 million loan will be provided to upgrade equipment at the Shinglehouse County Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Ford City in Armstrong County will use a $9.5 million grant and a $4.7 million loan to replace cast iron pipes with lead compounds and add water service lines, 70 fire hydrants and other equipment, to reduce lead exposure and prevent leaks. Chester County will receive a $12.6 million loan to upgrade nitrification and aeration equipment, and Lancaster County will receive a $10 million loan to replace 11,000 feet of sewer lines in Elizabethtown.
“This is a historic moment for Pennsylvania’s water and wastewater systems as federal funding for water projects will help us make meaningful investments in communities across the Commonwealth,” said PENNVEST Chairman Brian Regli.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., also welcomed the fact that the funding meets constitutional guarantees.
“The Pennsylvania State Constitution grants every community in our commonwealth the right to safe, pure water,” Casey said in a news release. “Thanks to the Infrastructure Act, we are protecting people and the environment from water pollution and ensuring the availability of clean and safe drinking water for households and businesses.”
Over the past two years, $500 million in federal funding has been disbursed to replace lead pipes and upgrade water infrastructure. In November, Republican and Democratic lawmakers in the Pennsylvania Senate jointly supported a bill that would provide $30 million to test school water supplies for lead. They described the contamination as “unacceptable” and warned of the risk in decades-old school buildings.