By Chrissy Suttles
Beaver County Times
The Municipal Water Authority of Aliquippa will receive more than $2 million in state grant funding to replace the city’s lead service lines.
Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday announced $117 million had been released for 25 drinking water, wastewater and nonpoint source projects statewide through Pennsylvania’s Infrastructure Investment Authority.
The only Beaver County project to receive funding was Aliquippa, which will replace 184 existing lead water service lines with copper lines – eliminating the threat of corroded lines seeping lead into the water supply.
Following months of customer complaints, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection ordered the authority to improve its testing for drinking water contaminants.
New testing last summer revealed elevated levels of lead in a handful of homes with old lead pipes. Those pipes were immediately replaced, but at least one homeowner reported elevated lead levels months after the replacement.
“People should not have to worry over the safety of their tap water,” said state Rep. Rob Matzie, D16, Ambridge. After testing last year showed elevated lead levels in a small number of samples, there was reason for concern. Securing this funding is going to eliminate that risk.”
Aliquippa’s water authority broke ground on a new $15 million water filtration plant earlier this year near its existing, decadesold facility. For years, hundreds of residents have protested the brown drinking water regularly streaming from their faucets alongside ongoing rate hikes.
The Municipal Water Authority of Aliquippa’s former administrative building was partly demolished Thursday at a groundbreaking ceremony for a new $15 million water filtration plant, expected to be completed within the next three years.
Many of the system’s lines are old castiron pipes first laid in the early 1900s when J&L Steel Corp. was building the town. They break often, resulting in “muddy” water.
“This historic investment in Pennsylvania’s clean water and healthy communities serves as a fitting celebration of Earth Week, when our country celebrates advances in environmental protection and committed stewardship of our lands and waters,” Wolf said.
Chrissy Suttles covers business, energy and environment for the Beaver County Times and the USAToday Network. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @ChrissySuttles.