Struggling East Dunkard Water Authority in Greene County is receiving nearly $2 million in funding for infrastructure upgrades to hopefully avert water quality issues that have plagued service this year.
Governor Tom Wolf announced Tuesday that the Dilliner Water Authority will receive $1.94 million in Community Development Grants – CARES Act for the overhaul of the treatment facility and water lines.
Improvements will include the replacement of the iron water main, pumps, gate valves and blowdown valves, as well as the inspection and refurbishment of eight storage tanks. Most importantly, the funding will help East Dunkard update its system and operate a connection line with the Southwestern Pennsylvania Water Authority to eventually purchase water from that agency.
Crystal Simmons, who is the CDBG program administrator for Greene County, said she worked closely with East Dunkard “to identify problem areas so they can be fixed and flushed out of the system” as upgrades are made possible through grants.
“We have been assisting the authority, aggressively writing grants over the past two years and have other applications that are in the works and we hope to see those funded,” Simmons said. “We want to review the scope of work.”
With the grant announcement on Tuesday, Simmons said they will soon begin the bidding process for construction with work starting later this year, weather permitting. The work will include technological improvements and the identification of areas that need upgrading so that they can be flushed when needed. But there is also funding for an extension line that would allow East Dunkard to connect to SWPA in Jefferson, something that has been discussed for several years.
“The ultimate plan is to be connected and able to purchase water from the Southwestern Pennsylvania Water Authority,” Simmons said.
East Dunkard has been beleaguered by problems in recent years, including when the authority announced separate and extended boil water advisories in January and again in March due to filtration issues and treatment outages. The most recent boil water advisory lasted nearly two months until it was rectified on May 5. But Simmons said several new members have recently joined the board that oversees the authority, and she thinks it’s going in the right direction as they work to improve the system.
State Representative Pam Snyder, D-Jefferson, and State Senator Camera Bartolotta, R-Carroll, issued a joint press release on Tuesday praising the grant and the planned improvements.
“I am relieved there is a light at the end of the tunnel for East Dunkard Water Authority customers,” Snyder said. “After countless meetings with engineers, board members, and state and local officials over the years to resolve this glaring problem, I am thrilled that these people finally have reliable access to safe drinking water. .”
“We take it for granted that when we turn on a tap, clean, safe water will come out and the waste water will be taken away for treatment, but the fact is there are a lot of people working very hard to do that. . everything happens,” added Bartolotta.
The water board, which has approximately 1,600 customers in its system, supplies water to 4,200 residents of Dunkard and Greene Townships and parts of Cumberland, Monongahela, Perry and Whiteley Townships.
The grant to East Dunkard was part of $8.4 million of CDBG-CARES Act money distributed to five projects across the state.
One such project is for the North Fayette County Municipal Authority to replace several main water supply mains in Fairchance and install additional fire hydrants in the borough. This water authority will receive $987,000 of 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.