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Vandergrift seeks financing to keep treatment plants clear of storm water

| Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013, 12:56 a.m.

Vandergrift Council on Monday took another big step on the road to the borough's sewer separation project.

The council, with Vern Sciullo absent, unanimously approved an ordinance that allows it to seek approval from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure and Investment Authority (PennVEST) for financing the $10 million project.

Once completed, the project will put the borough in compliance with a federal mandate to separate the combined sanitary and storm sewers. The Environmental Protection Agency and the state's Department of Environmental Protection are pushing municipalities to comply to reduce excessive flow carrying storm water and sewage to the sewage treatment plants. That often results in the plants being overwhelmed by the flow, which is bypassed into streams and rivers.

It means council will have the money it needs to pay for the project in the form of a $2.6 million grant and an $8.2 million low interest loan.

The loan will be for a 30-year term at a 1 percent interest rate.

When PennVEST first offered the funding package in April, borough officials hesitated to accept it. They had hoped the funding components would be reversed with the bulk of the package coming in a grant — money that does not have to be repaid — and the rest in a loan.

Borough officials initially miscalculated that customer bills could more than double to pay off the 30-year, low-interest loan, which caused them to balk at the PennVEST offer.Borough Manager Steve DelleDonne said with council's action on Monday, bid proposals for the project will be advertised in September, likely awarded in October with the project starting in December or January.

Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4675 or tyerace@tribweb.com.

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