Economic stimulus funding helps correct drinking water issues in Erie County

MCKEAN, PA, July 14, 2009 -- In a demonstration of federal recovery funds already at work improving infrastructure and creating jobs in Pennsylvania, a new project will bring a reliable source of pure drinking water to Erie County...

MCKEAN, PA, July 14, 2009 -- In a demonstration of federal recovery funds already at work improving infrastructure and creating jobs in Pennsylvania, Department of Environmental Protection Regional Director Kelly Burch today helped celebrate a project that will bring a reliable source of pure drinking water to McKean Township and McKean Borough, Erie County.

The event at McKean Elementary School launched the second phase of the Erie Water Works project, which received $5.4 million from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST) in April.

The $4.7 million grant portion of the financial package represents PENNVEST's first allocation of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding. The remainder of the financing is a 20-year loan at 1 percent interest.

"This project will address water quality and quantity issues that have long been problems in the McKean area," said Burch. "The local school, church social hall, businesses and residents all will benefit. Having a reliable, safe water supply also will boost opportunities for economic growth and jobs, fulfilling the intent of federal and state economic recovery programs."

The two-phase project consists of installing approximately 48,000 feet of water main to service residents and businesses. The first phase was completed last fall and Erie Water Works officials expect the second phase will be completed this coming fall.

A survey revealed that 18 percent of homes in the area to be served by the waterline extension experience recurring water outages. Among the private water wells sampled, 27 percent tested positive for coliform bacteria. Other wells had problems with contaminants such as iron, manganese, bacteria, and sulfur. Benzene and MTBE also were detected in some samples.

PENNVEST provides low-interest loans and grants for drinking water, sewer and stormwater projects throughout Pennsylvania.

The Erie Water Works project was approved by PENNVEST in April as one of nearly 60 infrastructure projects representing a $530 million investment in drinking water, wastewater and green infrastructure announced by Governor Edward G. Rendell.

>> Learn more about how the federal economic stimulus will benefit communities across Pennsylvania

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