Glendale addresses water issues

Officials seek loan to improve billing at Glendale Yearound

Glendale Valley Muni-cipal Authority officials are seeking a bank loan to cover multimillion-dollar improvements in the Glendale Yearound area, hoping to improve the billing of its residents.

The bank loan is the latest in a long line of prospective improvements and funding streams sought by the authority’s leaders.

The Yearound is comprised of about 1,200 individual properties — both permanent homes and campsites, Glendale Valley Municipal Authority office manager Lisa McMurray said Tuesday.

Glendale Valley provides sewer and water services to the Yearound and surrounding communities, but, within the Yearound, no meters exist to monitor water usage.

Instead, customers living in the Yearound pay a flat fee each month for services — $66 for campsites and $99 for homes.

“If you use water or if you don’t use water, you pay the same rate,” McMurray said.

Flat rates have aggravated Yearound residents for some time.

Glendale Valley officials hope to improve billing by installing meters at each property, McMurray said. If installed, residents will be billed only for the water they use.

“It’s just a better way, a more accurate way to bill,” she said.

The installation of those meters will come at a cost of about $2.7 million. That’s a cost that will require outside funding, McMurray said.

Originally, Glendale Valley officials considered applying for PennVEST funds to cover the cost of meter installation.

PennVEST — the Pennsylvania Infrastruc-ture Investment Authority — provides grants and low interest loans to municipal organizations for water infrastructure upgrades.

During the application process, PennVEST officials asked local leaders to ensure Glendale Valley Municipal Authority would have a long-term water supply in place, McMurray said.

Currently, Glendale Valley, which owns sewer infrastructure, purchases water from the neighboring Reade Township Municipal Authority. Glendale Valley then distributes that water to its customers, charging a fee.

Over the past few years, Glendale Valley officials have offered multiple times to purchase the Reade authority. The purchase would ensure a water supply.

An offer of $500,000 and a later offer of $1 million were turned down by Reade leaders, who said earlier this year that the authority’s net worth is about

$1.5 million.

Reade Township supervisors backed that position in April.

“As far as I’m concerned, I don’t want to see GVMA with the water authority,” Supervisor Jim Igou said, with others in agreement.

That spurred Glendale officials to seek out their own water wells, hiring a hydrologist to identify possible well sites, McMurray said.

A cost to drill wells — eliminating the need for Reade’s water — was not immediately available. And McMurray estimated in April that the project likely will take two to five years to complete.

In the meantime, Glendale Valley and Reade leaders also considered an agreement to continue their water-supply pact for 20 years, Reade Municipal Authority Chairman Jim Thompson said. The agreement would meet the long-term water requirement stipulated by PennVEST officials.

However, there has been some tension between the boards that govern the two municipal entities, and Thompson said work toward a 20-year contract has been abandoned.

Citing that tension as a motivator, Thompson claimed the prospect of negotiating a long-term pact caused Glendale Valley officials to “avoid PennVEST because they don’t like the terms.”

That pact had nothing to do with the decision to seek funding elsewhere, McMurray said.

“That wasn’t why,” she said, declining to elaborate. “We are just looking at some alternative funding.”

McMurray revealed that Glendale officials are now seeking a loan from a local bank to cover the cost of the Yearound meter project. She did not name the bank.

“We are just in the very beginning stages now,” she said.

It is unclear if that bank will be able to compete with a PennVEST loan’s low interest rates — between 1 and 2 percent.

Water infrastructure conditions at the Yearound have long been an issue in the community, where in 2015 a number of residents filed a lawsuit claiming sewer and water systems were failing because they were not properly installed.

In the years since, Glendale officials have made attempts to remedy problems, McMurray said.

“We are constantly making improvements up there,” she said.

Mirror Staff Writer Sean Sauro is at 946-7535.