The troubled East Dunkard Water Authority in Greene County is receiving nearly $2 million funding for infrastructure upgrades to hopefully avoid water quality issues that have plagued the service this year.
Gov. Tom Wolf announced Tuesday the water authority in Dilliner will receive a $1.94 million in Community Development Block Grant-CARES Act money to overhaul the treatment facility and waterlines.
The upgrades will include replacement of the iron main waterline, pumps, gate valves and blow-off valves, along with the inspection and rehabilitation of eight storage tanks. Most importantly, the funding will help the East Dunkard update its system and run a connector line with Southwestern Pennsylvania Water Authority to eventually purchase water from that agency.
Crystal Simmons, who is the CDBG program administrator for Greene County, said they have been working closely with East Dunkard “identifying problematic areas so they can be addressed and flush the system” as upgrades are made possible through grant funding.
“We’ve been assisting the authority, aggressively grant-writing for the past two years and have other applications that are in and we hope to be able see those ones be funded,” Simmons said. “We want to review the scope of work.”
With the announcement of the grant Tuesday, Simmons said they will soon begin the bidding process for construction with work beginning later this year, weather permitting. The work will include technological enhancements and identifying areas that need to be retrofitted so they can be flushed when needed. But there is also funding for an extension line that would allow for East Dunkard to connect with SWPA in Jefferson, which has been discussed for several years.
“The ultimate plan is to be connected and be able to purchase water from Southwestern Pennsylvania Water Authority,” Simmons said.
East Dunkard has been besieged with issues in recent years, including when the authority announced separate and lengthy boil water advisories in January and again in March due to filtration problems and treatment breakdowns. The most recent boil advisory lasted nearly two months until it was rectified May 5. But Simmons said there are several new members who recently joined the board that oversees the authority, and she believes it is heading in the right direction as they work to upgrade the system.
State Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Jefferson, and state Sen. Camera Bartolotta, R-Carroll, issued a joint press release Tuesday praising the grant and planned upgrades.
“I’m relieved that there is a light at the end of the tunnel for customers of the East Dunkard Water Authority,” Snyder said. “After countless meetings with engineers, board members, and state and local officials over the years to address this egregious issue, I’m overjoyed that these folks will finally have reliable access to clean drinking water.”
“We take it for granted when we turn on a faucet there will be clean, safe water coming out and that the wastewater will be taken away to be processed, but the fact is there are a lot of people who work really hard to make it all happen,” Bartolotta added.
The water authority, which has about 1,600 customers in its system, provides water to 4,200 residents living in Dunkard and Greene townships, and parts of Cumberland, Monongahela, Perry and Whiteley townships.
The grant to East Dunkard was among $8.4 million in CDBG-CARES Act money doled out to five projects across the state.
One of those projects is for the North Fayette County Municipal Authority to replace several main distribution waterlines in Fairchance and install additional fire hydrants in the borough. That water authority will receive $987,000 from the grant to make improvements. Neither borough officials nor Fayette County Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Andrew French returned phone messages Tuesday seeking comment on the project.