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Schenley Park, West Homestead, Ligonier share in millions for water projects

| Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012, 6:28 p.m.

Pittsburgh officials plan to install environmentally friendly stormwater control measures in Schenley Park through a program that finances water infrastructure projects across the state.

“We've very pleased to get this, and we're excited to get to work,” said Joanna Doven, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's spokeswoman.

The Schenley Park project and one in West Homestead are among 27 across the state to receive a combined $79 million in grants or loans announced on Tuesday by the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, known as PennVest.

West Homestead will use a $3.1 million loan to repair sewer lines. Borough Manager Ray Fonos said he hopes construction can start before the end of the year. The borough found pipes cracked or broken in 200 places.

“In some parts of the borough, the lines are 30 to 40 years old. In other areas, they're over 100 years old,” Fonos said.

Allegheny County is under a federal consent decree to reduce overflows of raw sewage into streams and rivers during heavy rains. Some people want Alcosan to put a greater emphasis on solutions that prevent runoff from getting in the sewer system rather than build systems to hold and treat excess rainwater.

Doven said the Schenley Park project, in part, will create a wildflower meadow to keep runoff from overloading sewers. Catch basins and pipes will be installed to direct water to the meadow. Crews will build large mounds at the bottom of hills to trap water and plant trees in the Panther Hollow area, Doven said.

The project will get a $558,682 loan and a $58,858 grant from PennVest, which gets its money from state and federal sources.

Executive director Paul Marchetti said the agency ranks project proposals and then doles out available money based on that ranking.

In Westmoreland County, the Ligonier Township Municipal Authority received a $3.05 million loan to construct more than 11 miles of water distribution lines to eliminate the use of problem water wells in the Darlington Road area and in Fairfield Township. Manor Borough also received a $2.66 million loan to replace sanitary and storm sewer lines.

“That is good news,” Paul Knupp, manager of the Ligonier authority. “It's a low interest loan, and it's a lot lower than the bank.”

Uniontown received a $500,000 loan to rehabilitate the city's wastewater collection and treatment system.

Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or bkerlik@tribweb.com.

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