Pennsylvania to Vote on Water Referendum

Voters can choose to support an investment on Election Day that will provide safer, more dependable drinking water, while supporting 12,000 new Pennsylvania jobs, Department of Environmental Protection acting Secretary John Hanger said on Oct. 24.

"On Nov. 4, voters will see a complex question on their ballot that's really quite simple: Will you support a $400 million investment to clean up Pennsylvania's waterways and provide safer, more dependable drinking water and sewer services?" Hanger said while visiting a construction site in East Norriton, where Pennsylvania American Water Company is replacing more than 1,400 feet of aging water pipes. "This referendum is an opportunity for voters to approve a much needed investment in our communities that are facing costly improvements to their deteriorating water and wastewater systems.

"If approved, these new resources will help Pennsylvania provide for the safety, health. and welfare of its families, businesses, and industry by improving our infrastructure. These are critical projects that could put approximately 12,000 people to work making repairs and upgrades that are needed to strengthen our economy," said Hanger.

Voter approval of the Clean Water Referendum bond issue will serve as a down payment toward fixing Pennsylvania's deteriorating pipes and sewer lines.

A recent study by the 30-member Sustainable Infrastructure Task Force, convened by Gov. Edward G. Rendell, estimates that drinking water and wastewater systems statewide need at least $36.5 billion over the next 20 years to maintain reliable service. The task force -- a group of business leaders, legislators, government officials, and industry experts -- found that every county in the commonwealth is facing significant water infrastructure needs.

The $400 million up for consideration through the referendum would be used for grants by the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, or PENNVEST, to upgrade or repair drinking water systems and wastewater treatment system projects in every region of the state. Grants awarded would range from $2 million to $20 million, depending on the size of the drinking water or sewage treatment system.

In addition, the 183 publicly owned water systems facing federal mandates to reduce nutrient pollution in the Susquehanna and Potomac river basins and downstream in the Chesapeake Bay, would be eligible for support under this referendum.

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