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AWA receives funds to renovate dam

Pennvest lends extra money necessary to fix Bellwood plant

Pennvest this week agreed to lend the Altoona Water Authority additional money to renovate the Bellwood dam and the water treatment plant below the dam, enabling the authority board on Thursday to award contracts for those projects.

Pennvest added $3.5 million to a previously approved loan for the dam and $1.22 million to a previously approved loan for the plant — money needed after low bids came in higher than estimates, due to post-COVID-19 shortages of labor and materials, pent-up post-COVID-19 demand for contractors and lots of available government funding.

The additional money provides a total of $24.5 million for the dam and $11.12 million for the plant.

The authority awarded a $20.6 million contract for the dam to Allison Park Contractors, a $5.19 million contract for general mechanical construction at the plant to Lobar Inc. of Dillsburg and a $1.47 million contract for electrical work at the plant to Bob Biter Electrical Enterprises of Cresson.

The authority is also spending $2.58 million to acquire filtration membrane equipment for the plant directly from Pall Corp. and $1.2 million for ozone equipment from Xylem Water Solutions Inc.

The ozone equipment purchase is part of a deal that also included the purchase of ozone equipment for the Tipton, Plane Nine and Mill Run reservoirs.

Workers are currently installing ozone equipment at Tipton, where the old setup was on the brink of failure.

The authority needs to complete that project before beginning work at Bellwood, so that it can easily supply water to customers at the northern end of the system while the Bellwood complex is offline, according to staff engineer Michael Sinisi.

In addition to the contract and equipment purchase costs, the Pennvest loans also cover engineering, administrative, legal, financing and permitting costs, according to authority controller Gina DeRubeis.

City Council recently introduced ordinances backing the Pennvest loans — including the additional money Pennvest provided.

The city has been required to back authority debt since acquiring the authority’s capital assets several years ago.

The city acquired those assets to ensure that its annual diversion of some authority revenues into the city’s general fund is legal.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 814-949-7038.

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