Pa. Counties Vote for $400 M in Water, Sewer Upgrades

Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell on Nov. 5 hailed the broad support state voters expressed for a clean water referendum that he said will support thousands of jobs and enable communities across the state to make critical repairs and upgrades to their water and sewer systems.

A majority of voters in 64 of Pennsylvania's 67 counties chose to approve the $400 million ballot question, which the governor said shows that the public understands the need to invest in important infrastructure improvements for the good of the economy and Pennsylvania's quality of life. Nearly two-thirds of voters statewide supported the ballot question.

"Pennsylvanians from different parts of the state and from all party affiliations overwhelmingly chose to create new jobs and make an important down payment on our economic future and the quality of life in our communities," said Rendell. "Our water and sewer systems—as well as other critical components of our infrastructure—are in need of substantial investments to ensure quality, dependable services that will position our economy to grow.

With 99.6 percent of precincts reporting, the referendum received more than 2.8 million "yes" votes and 1.7 million "no" votes.

The $400 million bond issue will allow the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, or PENNVEST, to award grants and loans for water treatment systems and pipelines. The money will be available for municipally owned drinking water and wastewater systems in every corner of the state, large or small, urban or rural. The funding will be available to the 183 publicly owned water systems in Pennsylvania that are facing federal mandates to reduce nutrient pollution in the Susquehanna and Potomac river basins and downstream in the Chesapeake Bay.