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Governor’s Report: $11.4 Billion In Drinking Water System Work Needed In PA

Every three years, in accordance with the 1996 Amendments to the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, the Department of Environmental Protection is required to produce a “Capability Enhancement Program Report to the Governor.”

The report outlines the challenges DEP faces as it assists public drinking water systems in enhancing their technical, managerial and financial capability to ensure the long-term sustainability of the state’s drinking water infrastructure as part of the Capability Enhancement Program.

CEP involves a hands-on, cooperative effort from a small state staff that draws on the many TMF resources available throughout the state.

Critical findings of the gap study include:
— $11.4 billion in construction must be done over the coming 20 years in Pennsylvania to repair or enhance the state’s drinking water infrastructure;
— The total governmental funding expected to be available for award (to satisfy both drinking water and wastewater needs) is $1.1 billion;
— Pennsylvania’s drinking water capital assets are seriously deteriorated and slowly getting worse;
— There is a huge gap ($8.1 billion at current user charge rates) between how much money systems will need statewide over the next 20 years and how much they can expect to have using existing local, state and federal financial resources; and
— If user rates were to increase, where needed, to 1.5 percent of median household income, the 20-year gap is reduced to $3.7 billion.

Other issues of concern identified in the report are:
— Only a small percentage of drinking water systems apply Asset Management principles;
— System revenues are sometimes used by local authorities for non-drinking water purposes;
— Some systems do not have certified operators, or when they do have operators they are improperly certified; and
— Some systems have inadequate operation and maintenance or security and emergency response plans.

Some of CEP’s achievements are:
— Improved TMF capability for approximately 200 systems through specific, on-site assistance;
— Individual assistance in completing TMF assessments to pinpoint system weaknesses and strengths in the areas of TMF capabilities; and
— Coordination with state and federal agencies to secure grant and low-interest loan funding for public water system construction projects.

A copy of the report is available online. For more information, contact Brian Schlauderaff, Chief of Operational Services, by sending email to: bschlauder@pa.gov or call 717-772-5620.

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