Before this month, the Altoona Water Authority received a $10 million grant and a $10 million low-interest loan from Pennvest for its Easterly Sewer Treatment Plant project.
It was more than expected and will save ratepayers a total of $25 million, compared to the cost of borrowing through bonds for the $34.5 million job.
This month, more unexpected good news flowed from Harrisburg, with a Commonwealth Financing Authority award of $2.68 million, further softening the Easterly burden on ratepayers.
Altoona was among 11 area municipal water and sewer organizations that received a total of more than $25 million for projects through the state authority's H2O PA program.
Altoona didn't figure to get anything at all from H2O this time, having received $1 million from the program in 2009 for the renovation of its Westerly plant, said Mark Glenn, consulting engineer with Gwin Dobson & Foreman.
The unlooked-for benefit should enable the authority to redirect about $3 million of the about $15 million it borrowed in bonds for the Easterly project to some other capital project, according to authority officials.
A closer look
The Commonwealth Financing Authority's H2O PA program provides a maximum of 60 percent for projects:
Williamsburg, Patton, Clearfield and Curwensville municipal authorities, $4 million each
Alexandria Borough-Porter Township Joint Sewer Authority, $2.7 million
Altoona Water Authority, $2.68 million
Cromwell Township, Huntingdon County, $1.8 million
Northern Cambria Municipal Authority, $814,000
Nanty Glo Water Authority, $717,000
Chestnut Ridge Area Joint Municipal Authority, $383,000
Bedford Township Municipal Authority $375,000
The Williamsburg Municipal Authority will use $4 million that will go towards the $8 million construction of a new sewer treatment plant, so the authority can meet stricter effluent standards designed to protect Chesapeake Bay, authority Chairman Ed Patterson said.
The plant construction is a twin project with a $4 million extension of sewer lines to serve 187 Woodbury Township homes that have septic problems. The extension project helped the authority qualify for the funding, because it will further relieve pollution pressure on the area.
The authority will ask Pennvest in the fall for the rest of the money it needs for both projects, Clabaugh said.
Workers will begin in late winter or spring and finish in a year, Clabaugh said. Other funding possibilities include the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service program.
The Patton Municipal Authority is working with Hastings Borough to develop new water sources, build new disinfectant facilities and interconnect the towns' water systems, Clabaugh said.
"Both have issues with sources," he said.
Patton now relies on Chest Creek, while Hastings relies on a deep well and a mine spring.
The $6 million project, of which the state awarded a $4 million grant, will include drilling deep wells for both towns. The interconnection will help provide redundancy in case of drought or other problems.
The Clearfield Municipal Authority will use a $4 million grant as the initial funding for a $30 million sewer plant the authority needs to remove nitrogen and phosphorus, which is required by the new Chesapeake Bay standards, Chairman Russell Triponey said.
The authority considered a $15 million to $20 million addition to its 50-year-old plant, but figured it would make more sense to spend a modest additional amount for a new plant, Triponey said.
The authority is hoping for low-interest Pennvest loans to avoid the need for bonds. It will pay off some debt next year, which could help it do the project without raising rates, Triponey said.
It is buying pollution credits and will spend about $400,000 a year until the new plant comes on line.
Cromwell Township in Huntingdon County will use $1.8 million for modernization of the Southern Huntingdon High School sewer plant, which the township will take over, and for extension of lines into unsewered areas, Clabaugh said. The township will ask for the rest of the money it needs from Pennvest.
Northern Cambria Municipal Authority received $814,000 - a fraction of what the authority will need for improvements to its water treatment plant's pumping facility and distribution system, and Nanty Glo Water Authority will use $717,000 to pay for part of ongoing waterline replacements, Clabaugh said
Bedford Township, Bedford County, will use a $375,000 grant for extending water and sewer lines to fewer than 100 unserved homes in the Camp Sunshine/ Sweet Root area, Clabaugh said.
Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.