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Loan completes financing for Bell Township waterline extension

| Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 12:42 p.m.

A $200,000 state loan will help fund a waterline extension serving about 40 homes in Bell Township.

The Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, commonly known as PennVEST, awarded the money for the project to the Westmoreland County Municipal Authority. It was among $66.5 million in low-interest loans and $15 million in grants the state announced Tuesday.

The money will be combined with a $450,000 federally funded grant from Westmoreland County that was awarded about a year ago, said Bert Getto, assistant deputy director for the Westmoreland County Department of Planning and Development.

The project calls for installing about 2 miles of water distribution line to serve an area of Route 819 and adjoining Perrysville, Carnahan and Rubright roads.

That area has issues with water quality and quantity, Getto said. Authorities say some wells have been contaminated by coliform bacteria from nearby malfunctioning on-lot septic systems.

The municipal authority will own and maintain the lines, Assistant Manager Tom Ceraso said. Township crews will handle installation on township roads, while a contractor will be sought for work on Route 819.

Work could begin this fall, Ceraso said.

The loan will be repaid over 20 years, said Larry Gasparato, a project specialist with PennVEST. The interest rate is lowest in the first five years, then slightly higher in the remaining 15 years.

The grant was aimed at low-to-moderate income areas. Bell Township officials conducted an income survey to show at least 51 percent of the people living in the project area met that qualification, Getto said.

No tap-in fees for the poor

Low-income residents in the project area who meet income limits will not have to pay tap-in fees, which for them will be covered by the grant, Getto said.

Annual income limits range from $36,350 for one person to $51,900 for a family of four.

Those with higher incomes will pay a fee. The authority's fee for a typical three-quarter inch tap is $2,700, Ceraso said.

The project will include the installation of fire hydrants. Ceraso said the authority installs them every 1,000 feet, unless the township, which is responsible for their maintenance, specifies differently.

Without waterlines and hydrants, firefighters have to bring water in on tanker trucks, Bell Township fire Chief Steve Master said. Hydrants are included whenever a new waterline is put in, he said.

Having hydrants will help improve the fire department's response time, and could help lower homeowners' insurance rates, Master said.

With this project, close to half of Bell Township will be served by waterlines, Master said.

“Any time waterlines are put in with hydrants, it's definitely a benefit to our residents and the fire department,” he said.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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