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Westmoreland, Johnstown agencies dedicate water pipeline

| Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, 12:02 a.m.
Eric Schmadel
Journeyman electrician Ken Kosjer with Schultheis Electric wires the solar panel that will monitor and power control for the water tower along route 271 near the Laurel Summit north of Ligonier. on November 9, 2012 north of Ligonier. Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
President of Resource Development Management Chris Kerr, photographed at the interconnect ceremony which celebrates completion of a project linking the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County and the Greater Johnstown Water Authority on November 9, 2012 north of Ligonier. Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
Journeyman electrician Ken Kosjer with Schultheis Electric wires the solar panel that will monitor and power control for the water tower along route 271 near the Laurel Summit on November 9, 2012 north of Ligonier. Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
Momentos for attendees of the event marking the completion of a project linking the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County and the Greater Johnstown Water Authority sit on a table to be picked up at the celebration on November 9, 2012 north of Ligonier. Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review

Starting Dec. 1, water for Ligonier Borough residents will travel over the mountain and through the woods, through a pipeline linking the Greater Johnstown Water Authority with the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County.

Board members from both authorities, along with other local and county officials, gathered Thursday to dedicate the line.

They met just past the midway point, at a 1 million-gallon storage tank off state Route 271.

“The vision of a few for the good of a region is shown through the actions of the authorities and the work of the people involved in this project,” read a commemorative rock displayed at the event.

The 16-mile transmission line will pump at least 520,000 gallons of purchased water a day from Johnstown to Ligonier, serving the Westmoreland authority's 1,500 customers in the borough.

“This transmission line allows us to discontinue the operation of an obsolete plant that was in need of many repairs in Ligonier,” said Chris Kerr, president of Resource Development Management, the company that manages both authorities.

Kerr referred to Ligonier's sewage treatment plant, which along with a dam at a reservoir, needed repairs totaling several million dollars.

The cost of the $9.8 million pipeline project was split between both authorities and financed with low-interest PennVEST loans. Construction started in March 2011.

“We didn't even think this was possible,” said Ed Centric, chairman of the Johnstown authority. “I'm so proud that our two water authorities came together and made this happen. Our future looks bright for both authorities.”

The transmission line opens opportunities for both authorities to expand, Centric said.

From the “point of service” in Ligonier, a public water system could expand south to Donegal and west to Latrobe, according to Kerr.

“That's something that I'm sure we will look at in the future, but for today, we're just trying to enjoy the completion of the line,” he said.

The agreement between the two authorities allows the Westmoreland authority to purchase up to an additional 3 million gallons of water.

Ligonier Township Municipal Authority officials are looking at the possibility of expanding its water service to Fairfield Township by connecting to the transmission line and purchasing water from the Westmoreland authority.

“We hope that the money we spent on this project will carry forward for the next 20, 40, 50 years,” said Jerome Defabo, chairman of the Westmoreland authority board.

Jewels Phraner is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-1218 or jphraner@tribweb.com.

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