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East Dunkard Water Authority receives $2M grant for upgrades

(source) Mike Jones/Observer-Reporter Jun 1st 2022

The East Dunkard Water Authority in Greene County is receiving $1.94 million in Community Development Block Grant-CARES Act money to overhaul its treatment facility and waterlines.

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.

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Snyder addresses boil water advisory with new EDWA board

State and local officials working to fix local water system

Rep. Pam Snyder    April 8, 2022

CARMICHAELS, April 8 – State Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington, met with members of the East Dunkard Water Authority board this week to discuss necessary steps to lift the Boil Water Advisory currently mandated by the Department of Environmental Protection.

“I commend the new members of the board who have dedicated a large portion of their time to addressing decades of neglect to the system and the authority as a whole,” Snyder said. “I look forward to working with them and reaching a permanent solution in the near future.”

In attendance were EDWA board members Tracy Pekar, Mark Blaker, Gary Moser and Paul Bierer, as well as the authority’s new engineer, and Snyder with her staff. Pekar, Blaker and Moser were named to the board in the last three months, as was Jerry Dorsey, who was not at the meeting.

“As new members of this board, we are laser focused on delivering clean water to the customers of EDWA,” Pekar said. “We’re working tirelessly to find the funding to fix the many issues with the system, bring the authority into the 21st century, and give the customers the clean water they deserve.”

EDWA has several applications pending at the state and local levels for more than $3 million in funding to repair dysfunctional parts of the system so that the Southwestern Pennsylvania Water Authority can begin supplying clean drinking water.

“I’m committed and eager to secure the necessary state funds so that this system can deliver water that is safe to consume,” Snyder said.

“It’s important that customers understand these new board members are working with everyone they can to resolve this as quickly as possible,” Snyder said. “The only way to fix the years of neglect is by working together, and that’s exactly what we’re doing now.”

The EDWA board is hosting weekly public meetings at the office in Dilliner as it explores solutions to the high turbidity, and examines options for a permanent solution.

“This current board didn’t create these problems,” Snyder said. “But they must be applauded for stepping up to try and fix them.”

The authority serves approximately 1,600 customers in six different townships in southeastern Greene County. EDWA has been under a Boil Water Advisory since March 11 for high turbidity in the water. It is the second BWA issued this year.

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