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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Recovery Funds Repairing Critical Infrastructure, Creating Jobs and Protecting Public Health in Lehigh County

$7 Million Project will Repair Nearly 80 Percent of Slatington’s Sewer System
Slatington – Water and sewer projects financed by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are creating jobs and helping communities to make much needed renovations and upgrades to this vital infrastructure according to Department of Environmental Protection Northeast Regional Director Mike Bedrin.

Bedrin made the remarks during a groundbreaking ceremony for a $7 million sewer project in Slatington Borough, Lehigh County, that will prevent untreated sewage overflows into the Lehigh River and create an estimated 150 jobs.

“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is putting Americans to work, but job creation is just one of the many benefits of this program,” Bedrin said. “Across the state, in communities of all sizes, we are tackling long-standing public health and safety concerns, protecting our waterways and creating opportunities for economic development by upgrading and repairing our critical drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.”

The Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, or PENNVEST, awarded $7 million to the Slatington Borough Authority in July that included $4.7 million in grants to accompany $2.3 million in low interest loans from the Recovery Act. The money will be used to replace or rehabilitate nearly 14.4 miles of aging sewer pipes and will address historic pollution and public health problems caused by stormwater infiltrating and overwhelming the authority’s sewage collection and treatment system.

The project will replace 5.5 miles of antiquated clay pipe with PVC pipe and line an additional 8.9 miles of existing sewer pipe with a cured-in-place plastic liner. Manholes throughout the system will also be replaced or rehabilitated as the project progresses.

Bedrin said the investment is making the project affordable to the community, without significant increases to residential sewer rates, and will reduce the overall cost of operating the sewage treatment plant by greatly decreasing the amount of stormwater entering the sewage collection system.

The current system was installed in the 1950s and serves approximately 4,400 people.

The commonwealth received approximately $220 million in recovery funds this year that is being distributed to communities in the form of grants and loans through PENNVEST for drinking water and wastewater projects.

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.

In August, Governor Edward G. Rendell noted that Pennsylvania has awarded 191 grants and loans worth more than $1 billion to critical drinking water and wastewater projects this year through a combination of funds from PENNVEST, the Recovery Act and other sources.

To learn more about how the federal economic stimulus program will benefit communities across Pennsylvania, visit www.recovery.pa.gov.

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