Pennsylvania Awarded $42.4 million for Clean Water Projects

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania, May 26, 2008 (ENS) – Water quality improvements in Pennsylvania will be funded by a $42.4 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to the state of Pennsylvania.

Announcing the grant on Thursday, Donald Welsh, regional administrator for EPA’s mid-Atlantic region, said, “EPA is committed to helping communities get safe, clean water.”

Nonpoint source and estuary projects include construction of structures to prevent and control erosion, ponds to control stormwater runoff, equipment and structures used for animal waste and agricultural best management practices.

“These grants are important in maintaining public health, protecting and restoring water quality by combating water pollution and focusing our efforts to protect the water we drink, swim and play in,” he said.

Stormwater runs off a street on the Penn State
University campus, carrying debris.
(Photo courtesy Penn State)

The funding has been awarded to Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, Pennvest, to further capitalize its Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which provides low interest loans for the construction of water treatment facilities, nonpoint source and estuary projects and other water quality management activities.

Projects supported by this fund protect and improve water quality in Pennsylvania’s rivers, lakes and streams for drinking, recreation and natural habitat. Eligible projects include upgrades to wastewater treatment facilities and collection systems.

For instance, in April Governor Ed Rendell announced a $5.3 million loan and a $750,000 grant to Irwin Borough in Westmoreland County to install four miles of sanitary sewers and more than a mile of new storm sewers.

The new pipes will eliminate the borough’s existing combined sewer system that overflows during wet weather and discharges untreated wastewater into Tinkers Run and Brush Creek, already classed as impaired waterways.

Two separate pipe discharges carrying mine waste pollute Brush Creek and its tributary, Tinkers Run. They turn all of Tinkers Run and much of Brush Creek red for a long distance. They are the largest mine discharges in Westmoreland County, with an average flow of over 7,700 gallons per minute.

Also in April, Freeland Borough in Luzerne County received a $651,000 loan to install piping, manholes and other improvements that will eliminate stormwater ponding and residential flooding throughout the eastern and western sections of the borough.

Pennvest approves funding roughly once every six months. The October 2007 awards approved by Pennvest range from a $727,000 loan to construct new stormwater management facilities for a community in Luzerne County to a $10.3 million loan and grant combination that will eliminate the contamination of a river in Fayette County caused by malfunctioning on-lot septic systems.

The largest loan in the May 2006 awards went to Clearfield Borough, which received an $11 million loan to install almost eight miles of new sewer mains and collection lines in sections of the borough where stormwater flowed into the sanitary sewer system and caused the discharge of untreated sewage into the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.

Also in May 2006, Northampton County Industrial Development Authority, which received $7.5 million to remediate a site formerly used by a steel manufacturer where runoff from the site was contaminating local water resources.

Over the past 20 years, Pennsylvania has received over $1 billion from the EPA to capitalize the fund. As recipients repay their loans, the funds are available for new clean water projects in Pennsylvania.

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