Door open for Pa. communities to improve water infrastructure, governor says

Pennsylvania residents will benefit now that guidelines have been approved for local governments wanting to apply for state funding to improve critical water infrastructure systems, Governor Edward G. Rendell said. The Governor signed legislation in July creating H2O PA, an $800 million fund to protect Pennsylvania's flood-prone communities; ensure safe, clean drinking water; and improve critical wastewater systems...

• Investments will improve water, sewer, flood control systems; high-hazard dams

HARRISBURG, PA, Dec. 10, 2008 -- Pennsylvania residents will benefit now that guidelines have been approved for local governments wanting to apply for state funding to improve critical water infrastructure systems, Governor Edward G. Rendell said today.

The Governor signed legislation in July creating H2O PA, an $800 million fund to protect Pennsylvania's flood-prone communities; ensure safe, clean drinking water; and improve critical wastewater systems.

Guidelines for the fund were approved yesterday by the Commonwealth Financing Authority.

"The need for funding to repair and upgrade the state's water infrastructure can be seen in communities from Erie to Allentown and all points in-between," said Governor Rendell. "The systems that deliver water to our homes, schools and businesses are deteriorating; our dams and stream banks that prevent flooding are in need of repair; and we must provide the resources that will protect our citizens, communities, businesses, and economy.

"The funding available through H2O PA -- combined with the $400 million clean water referendum that was approved by voters in November -- will provide more Pennsylvanians with dependable, quality water," the Governor said. "These investments are expected to put approximately 12,000 people to work."

The Commonwealth Financing Authority will evaluate applications with technical review and assistance from the Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, Governor Rendell said. Debt service for the funds will be generated from the Pennsylvania Gaming Economic Development and Tourism Fund.

Throughout Pennsylvania, there are 900 community drinking water facilities and 1,100 community wastewater operations that are owned by a municipality or municipal authority that could qualify for this funding. More than 10 million Pennsylvanians depend on the promise of clean and safe drinking water every day.

Earlier this year, Governor Rendell convened the Sustainable Infrastructure Task Force to review the state's water infrastructure needs. The panel recently released a report citing at least $36 billion in capital repairs and upgrades that are needed statewide over the next 20 years for local governments and authorities to maintain service.

The CFA approved H2O PA guidelines in three areas:
• High Hazard Dams/Unsafe Dam projects include those involving repair, rehabilitation or removal, security measures, engineering or other costs. Municipalities must provide at least 25 percent matching funds.
• Flood Control projects include construction, improvement, repair or rehabilitation. Applicants must provide easements and rights of way, relocation of buildings and utilities, alterations or rebuilding of inadequate bridges and operation and maintenance of the completed project.
• Water Supply, Sanitary Sewer and Storm Water projects are open to municipalities or municipal authorities for acquisition, construction, improvement, expansion or rehabilitation of all or part of a water supply, sewage disposal, or storm water systems they own and maintain. Eligible projects also include consolidation or regionalization of systems managed or operated as an integrated system. Applicants must provide matching funds of at least 50 percent of the amount awarded under the program.

>> Access the new guidelines and applications [keyword: H20]

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