Legislation to Assist with Water, Sewer Line Repairs
In the wake of ongoing issues relative to lead in water supplies and aging infrastructure, I am currently working on a proposal that would allow municipalities and municipal authorities to apply for and use public funds to repair or replace broken sewer laterals and water service lines on private property when the leaks pose a threat to the public's health or safety.
My legislation will amend the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority Act to allow municipalities or municipal authorities to include private lateral rehabilitation or replacement in PennVEST funding applications when determined by the municipality that it is the most cost effective approach to reduce wet weather sewer overflows.
The plan would also allow municipalities or municipal authorities to include projects for the improvement, extension, repair or rehabilitation of private water service lines connected to public water systems, where the governmental unit determines that those activities will benefit the public water system in PennVEST applications.
Under the bill, a governmental unit that has completed those activities shall not be deemed to be the owner of the private sewer lateral or water lines or to have any further responsibility to conduct those activities, unless the governmental unit makes an affirmative determination to accept those obligations.
Currently, funding can only be used for publicly owned infrastructure projects and not those that go onto private property. However, in many instances, issues with the public water and sewer systems cannot be fully eradicated without the repair or replacement of private lines that are connected to these sources.
My legislation would give municipalities the option of using public resources to help citizens repair or replace sewer laterals and waterlines in limited situations where there is also a significant public benefit. Pennsylvania's aging infrastructure has struggled with high lead content, storm water overflows, discharges and other serious issues because many homeowners cannot afford to repair aging and deteriorating waterlines or sewer laterals on their property.
In the City of Pittsburgh, service lines that run from the underground water mains and into residences and businesses, are publicly owned by the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority under the streets, but privately owned by residential and business properties beyond the curb. This creates an oftentimes large financial burden on property owners who would be left to foot the bill when these necessary infrastructure upgrade projects occur. This creates obstacles to the homeowner, the city and the public health and safety at large.
And this issue is not unique to Pittsburgh or Allegheny County, which is why I am certain my proposal can help save cities and municipalities money in the long run by allowing more underground work to be done at one time without repeatedly tearing up streets and sidewalks. Allowing for PennVEST funding would create a valuable tool to encourage efficient replacement of old water and sewer lines in communities throughout the state.
Unemployment Compensation Fix
Last week I voted in favor of Senate Bill 250 (SB 250). This bill enables the PA Department of Labor and Industry to utilize up to $15 million through the Service and Infrastructure Improvement Fund (SIIF) to improve the quality, efficiency and timeliness of services provided by the unemployment service system. This is a temporary solution that should alleviate some of the problems in servicing claimants, who have been experiencing long wait times, busy signals and dropped calls.
This issue first arose in November 2016 when some members of the Republican majority stalled a Senate bill that would have funded the unemployment centers. I wrote about this in the November 22, 2016 edition of my News & Views, which you can read by clicking here.
SB 250 now moves to the House of Representatives where it will hopefully be considered in the timely manner, passed and enacted swiftly.
Communities Receive Funding for Water/Wastewater Improvement Projects
Last week, the Commonwealth Financing Authority board of directors approved state grants totaling $810,800 for four area infrastructure improvement projects. These state funds help local communities expedite improvement projects on water and wastewater systems and I was proud to support these requests.
The grants include:
- $150,000 for a water line replacement project in Reserve Township. Old and leaking pipes will be replaced on both Allen and Irwin Drives. Workers will also be installing five fire hydrants to improve fire protection in those residential areas;
- $300,000 for the Main Street/Seventh Street storm sewer separation project in Sharpsburg Borough. The current system is hydraulically overloaded. The impact of the Ravine Street stream has caused back-ups, discharge issues and property damage;
- $150,000 to replace 1,600 linear feet of sewer line to reduce inflow and infiltration on Stowe Avenue in Stowe Township; and
- $210,800 to the West View Water Authority to replace the Thompson Avenue water line extensions in McKees Rocks Borough that run under the railroad tracks. The project would eliminate the need for three of the lines that run under the tracks. It will also increase flows and provide better protection.
The Small Water & Sewer grants program was established to assist with the construction, improvement, expansion, or rehabilitation or repair of a water supply or sanitary sewer system.
I will continue seeking state support moving forward to help our region upgrade its aging water infrastructure.
LIHEAP Extended Through Friday
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services will be accepting applications for this season’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) through this Friday, April 7. The program helps low income families pay their heating bills. You can apply and check the status of your application on the state’s COMPASS website. You can also pick up an application in my district offices or download one yourself from the DHS LIHEAP website. Completed paper applications should be returned to the Allegheny County Assistance Office, 5947 Penn Avenue, 4th Floor, Pittsburgh, PA, 15206.
Funding for LIHEAP is provided by the federal government and eligibility is based on the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines. The income limits for this season are as follows:
After your application is received you will receive a written notice explaining your eligibility and the amount of assistance you will receive. Payments are generally sent directly to a utility company or fuel provider and will be credited to your heating account. Crisis grants may also be available if you have an emergency situation and are in jeopardy of losing your heat. For more information, please contact the LIHEAP hotline at 1-866-857-7095
Heroin & Opiate Awareness Events
Heroin and opioid-related overdoses are the leading causes of accidental deaths, killing more Pennsylvanians than traffic accidents and continue to plague our communities.
Last year I joined Representative Dan Deasy in hosting two Community Awareness Town Hall meetings to discuss ways to combat this epidemic. I am pleased that we will host two more town hall meetings this spring.
The first meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 10 at 6 p.m. at the Mt. Washington Senior Center, located at 122 Virginia Avenue on Mt. Washington. Rep. Harry Readshaw is also co-hosting this event. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. A panel of experts on the topic will be present and available to answer questions. Participants include the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office, Allegheny County District Attorney’s office and Gateway Rehabilitation. Attendees can also bring unwanted or unused prescription medication to this event and the medication will be collected and safely disposed of by the Allegheny County Sheriff’s office as part of their Project D.U.M.P. initiative.
The second meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 20 at 6 p.m. at the McKees Rocks VFW, located at 1242 Chartiers Avenue in McKees Rocks. Rep. Anita Kulik is also co-hosting this event.
Did You Know…
Did you know that according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, more Americans died in 2015 due to a drug overdose than from gun deaths or car crashes?
Upcoming Shredding Events
I want to alert everyone about two upcoming shredding events. On Saturday, April 22, together with Representative Dan Deasy and Crafton and Ingram Boroughs, we are hosting a shredding event at Crafton Park from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Then on Saturday, May 13, along with Rep. Deasy and Green Tree Borough, we are hosting a shredding event in Green Tree Park from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Documents at both events will be shredded on-site by a reputable and bonded company. Also, all papers must be loose, no binder clips or paper clips, and documents cannot be in binders.
With consumer fraud and identity theft continuing to be an issue, we are hosting these events to not only to raise awareness and promote prevention, but also to provide individuals with the opportunity to have unneeded, confidential documents destroyed free of charge. You may bring documents that contain personal information such as social security numbers, credit card numbers and bank account numbers.
APPRISE Lunch and Learn
As part of their 2017 Lunch & Learn series, APPRISE/Allegheny Link is holding a special multi-topic healthcare symposium on Thursday, April 20 at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Pharmacy in Oakland, located in Room 456 of Salk Hall at 3501 Terrace Street. The symposium will run from 1 – 4 p.m.
The first hour (1 – 2 p.m.) will focus on Diabetes, Osteoporosis and Cardiovascular Disease. Subjects will include practice and cost effective steps for prevention or to reduce the impact of these conditions with seniors.
During the 2 – 3 p.m. timeframe, the discussion will center on developing an efficient and effective counseling protocol for assisting clients with Medicare and Medicaid issues. The development and utilization of new technologies and case management techniques that have improved, and will further improve, APPRISE’s client counseling process, making the path easier to the successful outcome.
Finally, the 3:00 hour will feature The Birmingham Project, assisting patients in accessing available healthcare benefits. On several days each week, counselors from the Allegheny County APPRISE Program are available at the Southside’s Birmingham health clinic to assist their patients in understanding and accessing the various healthcare benefits for which they may be eligible, and help them complete the enrollment process. The characteristics and development of this program will be discussed including how it anticipates expanding in the future to reach even larger numbers of individuals in need and provide them with assistance in accessing healthcare as well as other essential social service benefits.
Anyone interested in attending should email Bill McKendree at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Walk for Literacy Festival
The OASIS Intergenerational Tutoring Program is holding a Walk For Literacy Festival on April 22 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Schenley Plaza Tent, located at 4100 Forbes Avenue in Oakland. The walk around Schenley Plaza is in support of the OASIS Intergenerational Tutoring Program and literacy and will include activities for seniors, children and families of all ages. Activities include music and entertainment, free rides on the carousel, arts and crafts tables, free books for children and a free basket raffle and door prizes.
The OASIS Intergenerational Tutoring Program is a non-profit organization that recruits and trains older adults (50+) to tutor children in grades K-4 to improve their reading, writing, and communication skills. For more information please contact John Spehar at 412-393-7648 or email@example.com. OASIS is an affiliate of the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council.
The Pirates opened the 2017 regular season in Boston yesterday, the beginning of a three game series with the Red Sox. It is the Pirates’ first trip to Boston since 2005. Pittsburgh and Boston played each other in the first ever World Series in 1903 with the Pirates losing to the then Boston Americans, five games to three.
Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana
| Brookline District
932 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
Weekdays – 9 am – 5 pm
543 Main Capitol |
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Weekdays – 8:30 am – 5 pm
524 Pine Hollow Road
Weekdays – 10 am – 4 pm
| Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15216
|Northside (Mobile Office)
Carnegie Library |
1230 Federal Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212