Recovery funds help quadruple PA's investment in critical repairs, upgrades to water systems

HARRISBURG, PA, Aug. 3, 2009 -- Funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act have helped Pennsylvania dramatically increase the amount of money available for repairs and upgrades to failing sewer and wastewater treatment systems...

HARRISBURG, PA, Aug. 3, 2009 -- Funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act have helped Pennsylvania dramatically increase the amount of money available for repairs and upgrades to failing sewer and wastewater treatment systems, while helping ratepayers in struggling communities better manage the costs for improved water services, Governor Edward G. Rendell said today.

The commonwealth is receiving approximately $220 million in Recovery Act funds this year to distribute to communities in grants and loans through PENNVEST for drinking water and wastewater projects. The Governor noted that through wise management of available funding, the state will be able to address significant health and safety concerns that hinder economic development while creating new jobs statewide.

"PENNVEST normally awards approximately $280 million each year for badly needed repairs to our critical infrastructure, but this year we were able to match Recovery Act money with other state and federal funds to distribute more than $1 billion for drinking water and wastewater projects," Governor Rendell said. "This nearly four-fold increase allows us to address some of the most pressing problems where failing systems are threatening public health and safety and driving away opportunities for economic growth and investment."

Governor Rendell met with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Acting Regional Administrator Bill Early to accept $93 million in recovery funds for the state Clean Water Revolving Fund that will be distributed through PENNVEST for repairs and upgrades to existing wastewater infrastructure. Projects receiving the funding were announced in April and July.

Of the $220 million in recovery funds Pennsylvania will receive in 2009 under the Recovery Act, $155 million is earmarked for wastewater projects and $65 million will go to repairs to existing drinking water systems.

In addition to addressing public safety problems such as leaking and failing wastewater systems that discharge raw sewage into streams and public areas, the repair projects are boosting local economies, providing more than 5,600 construction-related jobs.

Money from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act is also being directed to infrastructure projects that incorporate green stormwater controls, energy efficiency, water conservation and re-use and other innovative approaches to reduce pollution and lower operating costs.

"Wastewater treatment plants are often the single largest municipal energy user, and the Recovery Act recognizes this by putting an emphasis on reducing operating costs through increased energy efficiency and innovative approaches to reducing stormwater runoff and water usage," Governor Rendell said. "At a time when electricity costs are fluctuating and government and families are being forced to tighten their belts, it makes sense to do whatever we can to make these facilities operate as efficiently as possible."

Since January, PENNVEST has awarded 191 grants and loans for drinking water and wastewater projects statewide.

As chair of the National Governor's Association in 2008-09, Governor Rendell launched a national campaign to address America's crumbling infrastructure. The Governor created the Sustainable Infrastructure Task Force to examine and present an accurate picture of the condition of Pennsylvania's critical water and sewer systems. The task force issued a report in November 2008 that offered recommendations for rebuilding Pennsylvania's aging infrastructure and estimated the capital needs of the commonwealth's water infrastructure to be $36.5 billion over the next 20 years. That figure addresses only repairs and upgrades and does not include costs for routine operation and maintenance.

To learn more about how the federal Recovery Act is benefiting Pennsylvania, visit www.recovery.pa.gov.

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