Harrisburg – June 21, 2017 – The Senate today unanimously approved two bills sponsored by state Sen. Wayne D. Fontana (D-Allegheny) that would allow local governments to tap government funding sources to help citizens fund sewer and water line repairs — especially when public health or safety are at risk.

“The Senate’s vote today signals a willingness to do all we can to help communities assure the safety and reliability of Pennsylvania’s water systems,” Fontana said. “With an understanding that replacing aging lead waterlines is a costly undertaking, these bills give municipalities more ways to help citizens repair or replace sewer laterals and waterlines on their property.”

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto commended Fontana and said the bills would “give local leaders more options and resources in their arsenal to assist citizens with repairing or replacing water lines and sewer laterals. The city has already begun replacing old lead lines, educating the public about the lead content in drinking water and distributed over 20,000 filters to Pittsburgh homeowners.”

The Federal Environmental Protection Agency recently issued a report showing that lead levels in the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority System exceed the federal threshold. Fontana said the problem is worsening across the nation and said communities will need to step up efforts to eradicate the threat of lead in drinking water.

“Our state’s aging infrastructure is becoming more and more compromised by high lead content, storm water overflows, discharges and other serious issues because many homeowners cannot afford to repair deteriorating waterlines,” Fontana said, noting that repairs can often run from $5,000 to $35,000.

Pittsburgh has over 1,200 miles of lateral sewer pipe, and is one of the largest cities to exceed the federal threshold.

The Fontana bills would:

  • allow local governments and municipal authorities to use state PENNVEST (Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority) funding to assist citizens repair and replace deteriorating sewer lateral and water service lines on their property (Senate Bill 639). The bill would not transfer ownership or responsibility for the homeowner’s water lines to the municipal authority. It would merely give the municipality the option and flexibility to structure a program to use state government resources for repair and replacement work; and
  • enable municipalities and municipal authorities to use dollars from a variety of local government sources to fund repairs to water and sewer lines when there is a threat to public health or safety (Senate Bill 656).

Both bills passed the chamber unanimously. The bills now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.


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