Fontana Bills Would Empower Municipalities to Help Citizens with Sewer and Waterline Work

Harrisburg – March 29, 2017 – State Sen. Wayne D. Fontana today said he is introducing three bills aimed at allowing local governments to tap government funding sources to help citizens fund sewer and water line repairs — especially when public health or safety are at risk.

“My bills would give municipalities the option of using state and local revenue resources to help citizens repair or replace sewer laterals and waterlines on their property,” Fontana said.

The Allegheny County lawmaker said Pennsylvania’s aging infrastructure is buckling from high lead content, storm water overflows, discharges and other serious issues because many homeowners cannot afford to repair aging and deteriorating waterlines or sewer laterals on their property. He said repairs can run from $5,000 to $35,000.

Fontana said Pittsburgh has over 1,200 miles of lateral sewer pipe. When these pipes are damaged, they can cause sinkholes, overwhelm water treatment centers and cause health and safety problems.

The Fontana bills would:

  • allow local governments and municipal authorities to use state PENNVEST (Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority) grant and loans to help citizens repair and replace deteriorating sewer lateral and water service lines on their property when there is a significant public benefit. The bill would not transfer ownership or responsibility for the homeowner’s water lines to the municipal authority. It would merely give the municipality the option and flexibility to structure a program to use state government resources for critical repair and replacement work;
  • enable municipalities to use their own money to create a specific fund to help pay for the private sewer laterals (Senate Bill 334). It would be akin to allowing the City of Pittsburgh to create a specific fund to help citizens make these costly repairs; and
  • enable municipalities and municipal authorities to use dollars from a variety of local government sources to fund such repairs to water service lines similar to his sewer repair legislation.

Fontana said he is confident he can garner the necessary bipartisan support to give municipal governments such flexibility.

“These water and sewer line problems are not unique to the City of Pittsburgh or Allegheny County,” he said.

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