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State establishes $12.6 million grant program with Mariner East II fines

Paul Peirce
| Tuesday, April 17, 2018, 4:51 p.m.
This map shows the approximate route and facility locations for Sunoco Logistics' Mariner East 1 and 2 pipeline projects, which will ship natural gas liquids from the Marcellus and Utica shale areas to the company’s Marcus Hook complex near Philadelphia.
Sunoco Logistics
This map shows the approximate route and facility locations for Sunoco Logistics' Mariner East 1 and 2 pipeline projects, which will ship natural gas liquids from the Marcellus and Utica shale areas to the company’s Marcus Hook complex near Philadelphia.

A new water quality grant program will be funded through the $12.6 million civil penalty related to construction of the Mariner East II pipeline and collected earlier this year from Sunoco.

About 20 southwestern Pennsylvania municipalities and multiple water conservation organizations, educational institutions and non-profit organizations within those communities in Allegheny, Indiana, Washington and Westmoreland counties are eligible to apply for the grants, according to information released Tuesday by the state Department of Environmental Protection Tuesday and Gov. Tom Wolf.

Grants will be awarded for projects that reduce or minimize pollution and protect clean water in the 85 municipalities along the length of the pipeline corridor.

The 45-day grant application round will open May 7 and closes June 21. DEP anticipates announcing the approved projects in late summer.

Examples of eligible projects include:

-- Projects to improve water quality while enhancing community recreational opportunities, such as restoration and enhancement of natural water resource features at community parks and public properties, including lake restoration and wetland creation.

-- Projects to educate future generations about water resource protection, such as demonstration projects that showcase pervious pavement, stormwater runoff management features and systems, bioretention systems, constructed wetland complexes, stormwater runoff collection and reuse projects, stormwater mitigation projects to reduce rate and volume and improve water quality at a school or other public property.

-- Projects to improve and/or protect public drinking water sources and infrastructure, such as repairs to drinking water system source facilities that improve resiliency of the water supply, including water supply dam rehabilitation work and upgrades, and repairs to water treatment infrastructure and water intakes.

-- Municipal separate storm system projects to address rate, volume and/or sediment load, including flood-control project features and retrofits to existing stormwater runoff control infrastructure that reduce rate and volume of stormwater runoff.

-- Projects that result in nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment load reductions within the Chesapeake Bay watershed and impaired waters, including stream buffers, stream restoration projects, wetland restoration or enhancement projects.

-- Projects that result in water quality improvements in DEP Priority Watersheds and Impaired Watersheds within the 85 municipalities.

“It is important that we utilize this funding in an impactful way that will support long-term water quality improvement projects in these communities,” said Wolf.

In February, DEP collected the $12.6 million penalty for permit violations related to the construction of the Mariner East II pipeline project. The penalty, one of the largest collected in a single settlement, was deposited into the Clean Water Fund and the Dams and Encroachments Fund, in accordance with the provisions of the Clean Streams Law and the Dam Safety and Encroachments Act.

The grants will be directed to the municipalities to eliminate pollution and protect the public from unsafe dams, water obstructions and encroachments.

“DEP will continue to both monitor permit compliance and ensure that Sunoco addresses and remedies all pipeline project impacts, which are separate from this penalty. Our goal with the penalty grant is to aid municipal leaders in providing meaningful local environmental benefits,” DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said.

More information on the grant program is available at: www.dep.pa.gov/Citizens/GrantsLoansRebates/Pages/Water-Quality-Projects-Along-ME2-Pipeline.aspx.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2860, ppeirce@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ppeirce_trib.

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